Dr Free-Ride linked to Zuska (Goddess of Science, Empress of Engineering, and Avenging Angel of Angry Women) talking about sexual harassment in science, in light of a recent study linking a sense of injustice among researchers to the probability that they will compromise their integrity. Zuska’s Seven Scientific Commandments, paraphrased, are:
- Do not rape your students and colleagues. No means no. Coercion is rape.
- Don’t engage in sexual harassment, either. If you don’t know what that is, your university will have policies in place and people willing to explain them.
- Er, that all goes for grad students too.
- The points above all apply “even if you think she’s willing or she wants it or she’s asking for it or she needs it or whatever other excuse you come up with to put the agency on her and absolve yourself of guilt. They also apply even if she is actually willing.”
- Racial harassment? Also a no-no.
- Don’t steal ideas.
- Don’t steal ideas that have been published (that’s plagiarism).
There’s more to each point, including links, so do read the whole thing. Me, I continue to be astonished by my own naivete. I was aware that sexual harassment is a problem in science — I’ve seen a few instances, and I’m even aware that I only saw most of those instances because the women involved stood up for themselves. But rape? Yes, rape. Zuska is serious. I am — horrified.
Zuska, in turn, led me to Dr Shellie, who describes her blog as
…a year-long project to develop and articulate my opinions on the following themes, as they apply to my life and research:
- women in science
- how to improve the culture of science, particularly in academia
- societal benefits of science and technology
There’s plenty to read in the couple of months Dr Shellie’s been blogging, but just to continue the theme of this post for a moment, here’s (part of) her take on women in science:
Making science departments more welcoming to women and minorities will result in a better working environment for everyone. Fortunately, a number of great initiatives are in place to do just this. Some of the main issues are to:
- Insure equal recognition for equal work.
- Encourage all students to actively participate in classroom activities in research, particularly talented students with low initial confidence.
- Value scientific contributions and content, not aggressiveness and self-confidence. Teach scientific communication skills and conflict resolution techniques.
- Promote role models for women and minorities in science and engineering.
- Work to accommodate dual-career issues and hiring concerns, which disproportionately affect women scientists.
- Develop university policies to accommodate childbirth and parental child-care responsibilities.
Again, there’s more to each point than I’m copying here, including a good many links to resources and references, so go read the original post. I just want to focus for a moment on the first three points. There’s nothing in those that is necessarily specific to women; that they apply more to women than men is a reflection of the general social disadvantage that affects women. Momentarily taking sex out of the language makes it clear that we are talking about a rising tide that will lift all boats: male and female scientists alike will benefit from changes in the culture of science that focus on rewarding merit and promoting cooperation. This is much the same as my usual “bottom line” argument in support of feminism: placing half of the population at a systematic disadvantage is a waste of human resources and a net loss for the population as a whole. Conversely, equality of opportunity across all demographics allows for the most efficient possible use of those human resources. It’s clear that my interest in open science —
Anything to do with open access to source code, published information, raw data, &c. Blogs, wikis, databases, journals, anything that views information and information sharing as common goods or could be used to further that view. Also anything to put collaboration ahead of competition.
— has much in common with the interests and goals of feminist scientists.