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Sexual Harassment Is Common In Scientific Fieldwork 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the communities-that-needs-fixing dept.
sciencehabit writes: Universities and other workplaces have codes of conduct guarding against sexual harassment. But what about the more casual venue of scientific fieldwork—which is also a workplace? A new survey finds that sexual harassment and assaults occur frequently in the field, with little consequence for the perpetrators or explicit prohibitions against such conduct. The study reveals that the primary targets were young women who were harassed, assaulted, and even raped by men who were usually senior to them in rank, although men also reported harassment.
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Sexual Harassment Is Common In Scientific Fieldwork

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  • Such harassment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WarSpiteX (98591) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:31PM (#47470965) Homepage

    "jokes about physical beauty and cognitive sex differences"

    It's so hard to take these reports seriously when they include the most trifling transgressions along with the truly egregious ones.

    http://www.hackcanada.com/canadian/zines/spacemoose/polisci.gif

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:32PM (#47470975)

    Clever troll against men and bonus points for using the meaningless letter soup "irregardless".

  • by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:40PM (#47471035)

    A new survey finds that sexual harassment and assaults occur frequently in the field, with little consequence for the perpetrators or explicit prohibitions against such conduct.

    Do we really need explicit prohibitions against sexual harassment and sexual assaults for field work? What about murder or violent assaults? Do we need to explicitly prohibit those as well? Or are those implicitly permitted because they're not mentioned somewhere in a field manual?

  • by XanC (644172) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:57PM (#47471151)

    I suppose you might. Because I don't see how, if something is already illegal, it also needs to be against "policy". Do all company/university policies have to comb through the entire legal code and duplicate it in policy?

  • Re:Newsflash! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:57PM (#47471153) Journal

    Fuck you, mate. I've worked with women (and in some cases under female bosses) for my entire working life. I've always been able to restrain myself from sexual humor, from making advances or indeed, from any kind of sexual behavior. I was raised to be a gentleman, and more to the point, I believed from the beginning of my working life that "coming on" to coworkers is a recipe for workplace malfunction.

    Or, perhaps, because you don't have the wits to overcome your hormones, I could simply say "Grow the fuck up and quit believing permanent adolescent behavior is natural."

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:59PM (#47471169) Journal

    The policy manual where I work spells out all kinds of things; like not doing illegal things on company computers, not stealing, not sexually harassing or bullying people. What the hell is your problem with that? The whole point of policies, whether they cover unwanted illegal activities or unwanted and yet legal activities, is to make clear the organization's priorities and desires for the workplace.

  • Re:Such harassment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:00PM (#47471179)
    The point is, they're not the same, shouldn't be treated the same, and lumping them together makes the data less useful. The only benefit to lumping them together is that it makes the problem look worse than it is. Publishing less useful data for political points? Evil.
  • Re:Such harassment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:15PM (#47471271)

    The thing is that the people that write these "reports" think the trifling transgressions are just as bad as rape. Many are what can only be described as "female supremacists" that will us any and all real, perceived and fabricated instances of "sexual harassment" to fight men wherever they can be found. I do not think it is a good idea to take these characters seriously at all, because their agenda is far more despicable and repulsive than what they claim to fight against.

  • Re:Such harassment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seebs (15766) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:20PM (#47471305) Homepage

    I don't think they think the "trifling" transgressions are "just as bad". I've never heard anyone say, or even suggest, that they are "just as bad".

    On the other hand, I've seen very good evidence presented that the "trifling" transgressions tend to correlate strongly with environments in which people are a lot more comfortable pushing things a lot harder. which means that there is at least some reason to believe that they may contribute to an environment where people will think they can get away with rape. That, and "trifling" transgressions can have a significant cumulative effect over time.

  • Re:Such harassment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:31PM (#47471385)

    Oh? When they make statics that count them the same, that is not claiming they are of a similar nature? Well then, maybe they just have not even a basic grasp of statistics. On second though, it may also be use of a well established manipulation technique, where a high number is claimed by lumping in everything and the kitchen sink, and then pretending the worst thing in there is representative. Like in "99% of women have experienced gender-related events, such as rape". See the problem here? This is nothing anybody with the slightest shred of honor would say. It is something only people that want to crush their (perceived or real) enemy, no matter the cost to the truth.

  • Re:Such harassment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Some_Llama (763766) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:37PM (#47471411) Homepage Journal

    "I don't think they think the "trifling" transgressions are "just as bad". I've never heard anyone say, or even suggest, that they are "just as bad"."

    well you don't know what they think, but you can infer from their actions, and when they lump together rape with an off color joke, then use the combination of two separate and disparate incidents to use as a factor in the proposed statistic, then yes they are statistically equating the two as "just as bad".

    maybe you're just not seeing the radical motivations behind what is portrayed as ethical objections?

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @08:31PM (#47471675) Homepage Journal

    The policy manual where I work spells out all kinds of things

    And all to shield the company from liability.

    It must be understood that these "policies" prohibiting already illegal activity are not for the benefit of the employees, but for the benefit of shareholders and management. If they thought it would boost he bottom line to have rampant sexual harassment, they'd be spiking the water cooler with viagra and giving roofies to the receptionist.

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @08:34PM (#47471697)
    My wife was the victim of sexual harassment - closer to assault.

    what she did was go after the guy full bore, no holds barred, and not one thing made not perfectly clear.. Reported it to the employer, letting him know that he (the employer)had a choice. Do something about it before the day was over, or face the legal consequences of both himself and the asswipe being served the next morning. She outlined exactly what she was going to do. Which included sexual assault charges, and charges against the employer for having such a person in their employ., with a whole lot of publicity.

    Her harasser got to not only go through a long list of reparations and counseling, he ended up being her employee.

    This was in the home construction industry which if no one has noticed, is a whole lot less amenable to sexual equality that a university environment.

    Which is all to say that if there is harassment, if there is assault. Then fucking do something about it. Otherwise, it's just an anecdote. This crap of just saying men are pigs, look what they do - is grade A bullshit. Press charges, dammit!

  • Re:Newsflash! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeIIomizer (3670945) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @09:24PM (#47471907)

    Agreed. When people say things that I don't like, it's disrespectful to others. Why can't people only say things that I like, and stop saying certain words which I'm irrationally offended by? These strings of letters are an eyesore!

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @09:32PM (#47471953)

    Do we really need explicit prohibitions against sexual harassment and sexual assaults for field work? What about murder or violent assaults? Do we need to explicitly prohibit those as well? Or are those implicitly permitted because they're not mentioned somewhere in a field manual?

    The difference is that sexual assault, unlike, for example, murder, routinely goes unpunished or is even rationalized as normal behavior. If young women were regularly being murdered by their supervisors without consequence, then perhaps more attention ought to be brought to bear on that, too, eh?

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @10:28PM (#47472211) Journal

    Because I don't see how, if something is already illegal, it also needs to be against "policy". Do all company/university policies have to comb through the entire legal code and duplicate it in policy?

    I can think of four reasons:

    1. The organization's management is usually the first responder for harassment issues. They're responsible for bringing the people together, they have the authority to set limits on their behavior, they have the ability to monitor and follow up, and they probably know the situation better than law enforcement does. If the harasser needs to be separated from their victim, the easiest way to do that is to fire/expel or relocate them.

    2. Not every illegal act can affect your job (or university enrollment). You wouldn't expect to get fired or expelled for speeding, would you? Having a harassment policy makes it clear that harassing your fellow employees/students can get you disciplined or fired.

    3. Harassment policies don't just forbid harassment, they also provides rules and procedures for responding to harassment. Illegal or not, wrong or not, the most common response to harassment complaints is to sweep them under the rug to avoid disturbing the status quo. Even well-intentioned managers don't necessarily know how to handle a complaint without training.

    4. Having a strong and effective harassment policy with backing from management affects workplace culture. The default attitude in a lot of places is that making other people uncomfortable for fun is no big deal, even if they repeatedly ask you to stop. A harassment policy says otherwise, encouraging victims to report instead of keeping quiet or leaving.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @10:28PM (#47472213) Homepage

    It's not a troll. It's just a fact of life. Men are expected to be sexual predators and mating and courtship has to happen some time. If the girl doesn't like the guy, it will be characterized as "harassment" possibly as "assault".

    Serious offenses and abuses of power should be focused on and eliminated. The "innapropriate comments" stuff needs to not contaminate the real issue.

    Sexual harrassment started out as being defined as a genuine abuse of authority and has quickly mutated into "anything I don't personally like".

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @10:52PM (#47472307) Homepage Journal

    #1, as the Roman Catholic Church proved royally, is a complete and utter error forever. You do NOT want your organization's management deciding if a victim can call the police.

    #2, every illegal act that is a felony, should result in the loss of a job. Once again, it's law enforcement and the courts that should make that decision, not the good ole boy network in your management.

    #3. The standard should be to call the police, each and every time. It is the only way to end rape.

  • Re:Such harassment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WarSpiteX (98591) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @12:57AM (#47472667) Homepage

    Whether it does or doe not contribute to a healthy work environment, is it sexual harassment?

    I say no.

    Who gives a shit about the semantics. If your making your female workmates uncomfortable, you deserve to be rapidly ejected out the door with "DO NOT HIRE AGAIN" stamped on your file.

    I'm curious, have you ever had a job? I don't mean a summer job or your coding job surrounded by fellow nerdlings. I'm talking about a job in a larger company where you have to deal with all sorts of people.

    Because here's a hint: you're going to make people uncomfortable. People who overhear your in-jokes you make with your friends. People who come into the middle of a conversation and take things out of context. People who are naturally touchy. People who are having a bad day (and this happens pretty regularly for many women, about 4-5 days out of every 30). People who simply don't like you for one reason or another, because maybe they decided you look funny, or are the wrong race, or whatever, and they're either looking for an excuse to complain or they'll make one up.

    And just out of curiosity, why is it only men who make women uncomfortable? Why can't men feel uncomfortable around women? Why isn't the need to constantly watch my tongue, to be on edge, always hyper-sensitive to their sensitivities a definition of uncomfortable? Why can Tom Brady honk their tits and tell them they should fuck, while I can't say hello without being a creep? (K, that's obviously an exaggeration, but you understand what I'm getting at).

  • by Tom (822) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @02:33AM (#47472901) Homepage Journal

    Here's what problem I have with this, as someone who has written and implemented policies: The longer it is, and the more content that the reader thinks of as boring and "why the fuck do they even mention this?", the higher the chance it won't get read.

    If you want your employees to actually read and know your policy, it must be short, to the point, and use redundancy very sparsely and intentionally.

  • Re:Such harassment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Imrik (148191) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @02:37AM (#47472911) Homepage

    The same argument could be used in the other direction. Just because someone's body is reacting to stimulation doesn't mean they're consenting to sex.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 17, 2014 @03:33AM (#47473067)

    Ever had your butt groped in a pub? I have. That's sexual assault, but it's unlikely it'll get reported (or rather, accepted in a report) and included in statistics in sufficient numbers to show that women commit sexual assault.

    Ever been chased around a pub by some girl who badly wants to sleep with you, but you aren't interested? I have, a number of times. First time she approaches you is fine, but after being told no it becomes harassment. It also is extremely unlikely to be reported and used in statistics.

    Get it through your head:

    sexual harassment and sexual assault are not predominantly the responsibility of the male. Both genders engage in it, but much like rape and domestic violence/psychological abuse, it is heavily reported for one sex and for the other it is basically ignored.

    I lived through it with an abusive ex-girlfriend who repeatedly raped me. I lived through it with a psychologically and physically abusive mother. (I'm nearly 40 and I'm only just coming to terms with some of the scars.)

    She set fire to my bedroom when I was 10, and tried to frame someone else for it (fortunately there was insufficient evidence for a conviction for him).

    She tried to stab me with a knife, after throwing crockery at me, because I didn't want to eat some processed meat that had gone bad ("That meat's gone bad, I'll just get something after you've eaten." Plate thrown at me, 12" carving knife pointed at me, screaming for my stepfather to call the police because I was threatening her while slashing at me with a knife and throwing more crockery at me.)

    This fiction that men are the only aggressive and violent rapists simply helps a mixture of sexist or psychologically unwell women, and it sells a lot of TV ads and books.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @12:03PM (#47475433)

    Get it through your head: sexual harassment and sexual assault are not predominantly the responsibility of the male.

    Fine, but the summary specifically states "The study reveals that the primary targets were young women who were harassed, assaulted, and even raped by men who were usually senior to them in rank."

    The article goes further " Women were 3.5 times more likely to report sexual harassment than men and significantly more likely to have experienced sexual assault."

    Again, these are specific to scientific field work. If you have data which suggests that on scientific field work, men are harassed much more often, then that's totally relevant. If not, then that's a different discussion.

    One should keep in mind that both genders can be sexually harassed or assaulted, but that shouldn't be confused with "both genders are EQUALLY harassed or assaulted" because that's just not true. Moreover, the articles point out that a lot of that was male supervisors on their female students. Given that most professors are male, male students being harassed on these trips may be a different situation entirely, probably requiring different approaches. If male students are primarily being harassed by female students, then dealing with the harassers is much simpler: you tell them they'll be fired if they harass people. Tenured professors, that doesn't work for.

    I really don't see what your objection here is. GP was only explaining why telling people not to sexually harass was justified without warning people not to commit murder. Do we seriously need to affirm in every single post on this subject that yes, men can be victims too?

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