Sexual Harassment and the Atmosphere of the Laboratory
- Length: 1096 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Sexual harassment and discrimination are still common at research universities despite of the efforts made by universities to stop such related issues. Universities have taken several measures to train the faculty for recognizing sexual harassment and that the department should keep the records and complaints against professors from students and fellow faculty members. Although sexual harassment can no longer be regarded as science misconduct it is still illegal at research institutes. However, the force of law is weakened by several factors, and the professors can sexually harass someone and remain a good scientist while a good female scientist who complains of sexual harassment is related against will likely find that her carrier is derailed.
Former Harvard University President, Larry Summers, once made a public remark that the women's failure to advance in sciences maybe that they are still mistreated on the job. Article written by Ellen Sekreta examines the sexual harassment is both endemic to those institutions and that response is inadequate. She further investigated how sexual harassments are applied to educational institutions and various definitions and models of sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin ... ." Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Education institutions that receive federal funds must adopt formal grievance procedures and designate a person who is responsible for making sure that provisions in the law are carried out. Nobody should be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits or subject of discrimination on the basis of sex. According to Catherine MacKinnon, American feminist, scholar, lawyer and teacher, sexual harassment is the unwanted imposition of sexual requirements in the context of a relationship of unequal power.
National advisory counsel on women's education programs defines sexual harassment in education as "the use of authority to emphasize the sexuality or sexual identity of the student in a manner that prevents or impairs that student's full enjoyment of educational benefits, climate, or opportunities. The City University of New York's sexual harassment policy include, but not limited to:
1. sexual comments, teasing, or jokes;
2. sexual slurs, demeaning epithets, derogatory statements, or other verbal abuse;
3. graphic or sexually suggestive comments about an individual's attire or body;
4. inquiries or discussions about sexual activities;
5. pressure to accept social invitations, to meet privately, to date, or to have sexual relations;
6. sexually suggestive letters or other written materials;
7. sexual touching, brushing up against another in a sexual manner, graphic or sexually suggestive gestures, cornering, pinching, grabbing, kissing, or fondling; [or]
8. coerced sexual intercourse or sexual assault.
Scholars have developed several models to predict what types of people are likely to be involved in sexual harassment and in what types of situations it is likely to occur. Professor Tangri, for example, has proposed three models. First, in the biological model, sexual harassment is in part the result of a natural attraction between the sexes, with a lack of intent to harass. Second, in the organizational model, the opportunity to harass is created by differences in power and position, leading the more powerful individual to extort various types of sexual gratification. Educational institutions create opportunities for this model of sexual harassment because of their hierarchical structures. Third, under the socio-cultural model, social beliefs result in harassing interactions that reflect "a larger patriarchal system." For example, a society that rewards women for being passive, facilitates sexual harassment by blaming women for their victimization and by putting pressure on them to avoid conflict.
In fields of chemistry and physics, significant gender disparities exist in the ranks of professors. Scholars emphasize mentoring, survival workshops, awards women's speakers lists, more gender research, improved student organizations as a way to facilitate women's progress in scientific fields. In Meritor Savings Bank, the Supreme Court held, "the gravamen of any sexual harassment claim is that the alleged sexual advances were "unwelcome.'" However, the Court also held that, in determining the existence of sexual harassment, courts may consider the complainant's speech or dress when evaluating the "record as a whole" and the "totality of the circumstances." This allows courts to focus on the behavior of the victim. Examining the victim's behavior in this way harkens back to historical rape laws, where courts probed the resistance of the victim, instead of presuming at the outset that the fondling or penetration was unwelcome.
Major source of federal funding is the National Science Foundation (NSF). They provide most funds to researchers in the fields of science and they have very strict policy against misconduct and harassment in a research institution. For instance, NSF support was revoked and denied for a period of five years against a researcher who was alleged for making himself in certain data more available for female students who yielded to his sexual demand and threatened their carriers if they reported him.. Although the NSF's assurance of compliance form does not explicitly include sex discrimination, grant recipients who have discriminated on the basis of sex are required by federal regulations to take remedial action deemed necessary to overcome the effects of the discrimination. By excluding sexual harassment from definition of science misconduct, the Federal Government has reinforced the idea that sexual harassment at work will not jeopardize females, student educational carrier and pursuit to higher education if sexually harassed by co-worker.
Evidence and research has pointed out that although the law protects female scientists from sexual harassment, female workers can still be harassed with impunity. In order to prevent sexual harassment in science and research, many existing programs encourage women to enter and remain in the field of science with protection against sexual harassment and discrimination. They are also better informed about their rights, and thought how to file complaints.