By Linda P.B. Katehi
On June 12, 2018 the Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a report on Sexual Harassment of Women Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This report makes important observations and calls all academic institutions to "Address the Most Common Form of Sexual Harassment: Gender Harassment". This report marks half a century of striving to help women find equal opportunity and respect in the Academy. Many of us have lived through this period to experience all or part of what the report acknowledges. Most universities have worked very hard to protect and accommodate the victims but have done very little to penalize the perpetrators and change the culture.
We should require nothing less of our institutions, including the three academies, but to live up to their teachings. We should require fewer words and more action and we should require change.
In the past almost half century there have been many improvements but there are many more we should expect and demand in terms of access, equity and respect. At the same time, there are many things we can do on our own which do not require substantial investment of time. While our numbers in the Academy have grown our networks have remained relatively weak. There are many of us who still feel isolated and intimidated to speak out. There are many of us who feel the need for advice and support, but there even more who need sponsorship.
While the numerous studies on STEM students, faculty and researchers tend to equalize our issues, stories and needs, we are all unique with as many differences as commonalities, with a diversity of opinions, attitudes and styles. This diversity in our voices can give more power and visibility to our community.
A number of us, members of the NSF ADVANCE Team at UC Davis, are initiating a blog as an effort to create a community engaged in a dialogue around contemporary issues important to us as individuals, as educators/researchers and mentors. The goals of this blog are to:
- Celebrate our successes and identify our needs
- Engage in dialogues around issues of importance
- Develop a network of friends, fellows, mentors and advocates for the those who are ready to follow in our steps
- Hear from the younger generations of educators and researchers and from those who aspire to follow similar careers
- Raise our voices when we feel it is important
- Create a platform for progressive change
The Blog “Our Voices” will feature articles weekly and will encourage you to respond. Also, it will highlight topics of interest. We invite you to join us. If you sign-up we will create a short page for you which will connect with your own page. This will make it easy for you to comment and upload information or important links.
The Blog has an Editorial Board responsible for the quality of information and content development.