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What Spotlighting Harassment In Astronomy Means 432

StartsWithABang writes: Geoff Marcy. Tim Slater. Christian Ott. And a great many more who are just waiting to be publicly exposed for what they've done (and in many cases, are still doing). Does it mean that astronomy has a harassment problem? Of course it does, but that's not the real story. The real story is that, for the first time, an entire academic field is recognizing a widespread problem, taking steps to change its policies, and is beginning to support the victims, rather than the senior, more famous, more prestigious perpetrators. Astronomy is the just start; hopefully physics, computer science, engineering, philosophy and economics are next.
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What Spotlighting Harassment In Astronomy Means

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:47PM (#51309585)

    I'm an astrologer and I frequently encounter harassment from mainstream astronomers and academics, so it swings both ways.

  • Who? What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:47PM (#51309587)

    Who are these people? Why did you separate a list of names with periods?
    What did they (allegedly) do? How do you know there are "a great many more" who have done, and are still doing, the same?

    For bonus points:
    When were these things done?
    Where were they done?
    Why? How?

    FUCK!

    • Re:Who? What? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Falos ( 2905315 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:20PM (#51309917)
      This may be causing the demagogue flop: Trying to vaguely synthesize a "problem" may work in other circles, but hard science doesn't want to hear that there's "some kind of thing going on, maybe", it wants facts, places, numbers, reproducible events, documentation, data, something real, something tangible. Not posturing and implied semissertions.
      • Re:Who? What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mr. Shotgun ( 832121 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @07:35PM (#51311217)

        Trying to vaguely synthesize a "problem" may work in other circles, but hard science doesn't want to hear that there's "some kind of thing going on, maybe", it wants facts, places, numbers, reproducible events, documentation, data, something real, something tangible.

        Hell I would settle for some correlation at least:

        Is the rate of sexual harassment higher for $field than it is for the general population?

        If it is then maybe there is more research to be done to discover why and try to correct it.
        If not then there is not a problem in $field, there is an asshole problem. And you deal with the asshole problem by getting rid of the assholes and not blaming the field the assholes happen to work in.
        (disclaimer: I am not calling anyone from TFA an asshole, just stating in general)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What is a summary? Why does it not contain every detail about a story?

      For bonus points, use a dictionary to find out what a summary is and use Google to find out what those people did along with when, where, why and how.

      \

  • by irrational_design ( 1895848 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:50PM (#51309619)

    "hopefully physics, computer science, engineering, philosophy and economics are next."
    Don't you really mean, "hopefully this is only a problem with astronomy and no matter how deep we dig we will not find this issue in any other field"? Do you really hope this issue is widespread?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "hopefully physics, computer science, engineering, philosophy and economics are next."
      Don't you really mean, "hopefully this is only a problem with astronomy and no matter how deep we dig we will not find this issue in any other field"? Do you really hope this issue is widespread?

      Um. Sorry. I read the article, we're not supposed to do that I know, but it says, in the last article that it's a problem across academia.

      So, yes, it's a widespread problem where a lead scientist or teacher controls the lives of those underneath them and takes advantage (sexually or otherwise). You never knew someone in college who did the teacher's job for them without pay? We called them grad students.

      • in the last article that it's assumed to be a problem across academia.

        There, FTFY.

      • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:21PM (#51309931)

        You never knew someone in college who did the teacher's job for them without pay? We called them grad students.

        AThere is a huge difference between low paid work (like an internship) which is part of the learning process, and being sexually taken advantage of. Making the two the same is stupid.

    • They have already decided the issue is widespread before they even do any research into it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @03:57PM (#51309705)

    So, the last link is for the Starts With A Bang blog, which is on forbes.com. They have their silly "turn off adblock" policy, so I don't get to read it because I use Ghostery. Not reading this particular blog is not a huge loss for me, after all it's a speck of dust in an infinite internet universe of interesting stuff. When enough feel like I do, it'll be a much bigger loss for the blog, and indeed for Forbes.

    It's kind of sad when smart people implement dumb solutions.

  • Mod parent down.
  • Bah, humbug (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:02PM (#51309753)

    Does harassment exist? Sure they do. So do sociopaths, thieves and other lowlife scum. However, I remain unconvinced that this is any sort of widespread problem. More than thirty years in tech, and I have yet to see first-hand, or hear second-hand, of one, single harassment case. I read about incidents in the news, but like weird accidents, they seem to make the news precisely because they are unusual.

    The people pushing this stuff claim to be helping women. In actual fact, they couldn't hurt women more if they tried. In a professional context, men actively avoid meeting one-on-one with women. Two people need to talk about a project? If it's a man and a woman, the man (if he has a brain) will refuse to meet anywhere but a public space. No man will mentor a women, for fear of being accused of ulterior motives. Male-dominated teams actively avoid hiring women, because doing so risks unfounded harassment complaints, gender discrimination lawsuits, etc..

    • Re:Bah, humbug (Score:4, Insightful)

      by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @05:06PM (#51310287) Journal
      Same story here- 20 years in the business and one time a co-worker said a vaguely sexual comment to another. She reported him and he was sent home for a week.
    • Re:Bah, humbug (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @05:12PM (#51310327) Homepage

      I am guessing you're a male? Try asking women you know. I think you'll be surprised (if not shocked) by the crap women have to deal with on a fairly regular basis.

    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @06:17PM (#51310755)

      More than thirty years in tech, and I have yet to see first-hand, or hear second-hand, of one, single harassment case.

      There is safety in posting as an anonymous coward. ---

      But, to my ears, you describe a male-dominated workforce that has circled the wagons and s profoundly hostile and suspicious of women:

      men actively avoid meeting one-on-one with women. Two people need to talk about a project? If it's a man and a woman, the man (if he has a brain) will refuse to meet anywhere but a public space. No man will mentor a women, for fear of being accused of ulterior motives. Male-dominated teams actively avoid hiring women, because doing so risks unfounded harassment complaints, gender discrimination lawsuits, etc..

    • You can't claim that all of this stuff is so unusual that it is newsworthy and then a paragraph afterwards say that it's so common that men everywhere are actively avoiding women. Pick a story and stick to it.

      My own anecdote, btw, says that mild forms of discrimination happen relatively often in male-dominated professions (jokes, phrases, or inappropriate conversation) but that serious harassment is relatively rare (I've never seen it). On the other hand, most women I've worked with have been competent and

      • Re:-1 Self-Refuting (Score:4, Informative)

        by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @10:44PM (#51312047)

        Bah. It's just that women-on-women harassment isn't an interesting story that fits the narrative.

        I can tell you, though, the harassment I've gotten from women (and yes, when four of my co-workers come to me and tell me that one woman has been talking about me to them behind my back) has been, I think, probably more insidious than anything I've gotten out of men.

        Men have approached me for sex (I think they thought more that I had low self-esteem as opposed to "stupid girls can't engineer", which is why I don't call it a "sexism" problem as much as a "well, what do you want, there are assholes in every environment" problem). When I've been told about the women in my vicinity sneering at me, it was in that "you clearly don't know how many people she told that to before it got to you" way.

        So, I see your male-dominated professions and raise you asshole women wherever asshole women may be found.

    • Re:Bah, humbug (Score:4, Interesting)

      by irrational_design ( 1895848 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @06:29PM (#51310821)

      We once needed to hire another developer, but we were short on space. There was a woman that we really wanted to hire, but she would have had to share my cube with me. I told my boss no way no how. I would never harass a woman or do or say anything even close to harassment, but the chance of some sort of harassment complaint would go so high with us working in such close proximity (what if I accidentally backed my chair into hers? Obviously that was an unwanted advance) so I flat out refused. We hired a man instead. I felt bad for the woman, but the environment is so toxic for men working in close proximity to women that we couldn't chance it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We once needed to hire another developer, but we were short on space. There was a woman that we really wanted to hire, but she would have had to share my cube with me. I told my boss no way no how. I would never harass a woman or do or say anything even close to harassment, but the chance of some sort of harassment complaint would go so high with us working in such close proximity (what if I accidentally backed my chair into hers? Obviously that was an unwanted advance) so I flat out refused. We hired a man instead. I felt bad for the woman, but the environment is so toxic for men working in close proximity to women that we couldn't chance it.

        So, in other words you got your male boss to hire a less qualified male employee instead of the more qualified woman on the basis that you didn't want to work with a woman, and you think this story is an example of how women don't get harassed in the workplace?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:03PM (#51309761)

    Remember: StartsWithABang submits articles for the sole purpose of driving traffic to his own articles on FORBES. Forbes is unworthy both for supporting content like this, and for their aggressive pro-malware stance for adblock suppression.

  • by p0p0 ( 1841106 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:05PM (#51309777)
    What harassment? Sexual? Physical? Racial?
    You can't just go on about something you haven't even told us about yet.

    It's gender discrimination the editor was talking about by the way. You have to be clear in these situations because every special snowflake is being "discriminated against" in some way either because the way someone fucking sits or because someone doesn't automatically know they are a genderfluid, cross horse/dragonkin from Planet Zarblox X and are only attracted to slightly rounded triangles.
    It's a good thing that problems like this are being tackled, but nowadays I'm always skeptic when people start trying to make a deal of it because most of the time it's someone being over sensitive because they wore cat ears and a tail to a job interview and yell "DISCRIMINATION" or "CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE" when they don't get the job.
    That's what SJW's have done to actual battles for equality: they've bastardized it and made it less than it actually is by yelling louder than the people who experience the ass slaps or slurs or unprofessional jokes.

    Everyone's so eager to be offended.
    • are only attracted to slightly rounded triangles.

      well i would like to point out that pie chart sections are being a total teases! i mean, why would you be outside of the rest of the pie if you weren't asking for it?! ;)

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:10PM (#51309809)

    Too bad it's on Forbes and there is no way I will turn off my adblockers to view the page.

    • Exactly. Fuck you Forbes.

      Oh, it's "StartsWithAShit" -- and nothing of value was lost.

    • Just improve your adblocker. Add the Adblock Warning Removal List to AdBlock, and Forbes is once again viewable. Of course, you can also boycott them.

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:10PM (#51309817) Homepage Journal
    Click here to find out what happens next! The answers will shock you! -Ethan
  • Uh-oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @04:18PM (#51309903)
    You mean the comment to your coworker that "The view of Uranus is lovely tonight!" is no longer considered appropriate? Kill joys!
  • Does it mean that astronomy has a harassment problem? Of course it does

    Does it?

    Or does it just mean that some people have a "harassment problem" and that by the law of averages some of them will work in astronomy, or engineering, or botany...

  • by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @05:16PM (#51310367) Homepage

    Did anyone read this article? [space.com]. "Geoff Marcy, a leader in the field of exoplanet research, has resigned from his position as a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, following an investigation that found he violated the school's sexual harassment policies."

    Or how about this one? [cnn.com] "Results from a recent AAS survey were reported at the last week's plenary session on harassment, defined as unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Some 82% of astronomers have heard sexist remarks from their peers; 44% heard sexist remarks from supervisors; 9% experienced physical harassment from peers or supervisors."

    Those articles do not read like SJWs and the do seem to indicate some sort of a problem.

  • I read the whole story summary and I still don't know what "spotlighting harassment" means, in astronomy or anywhere else. I assumed it meant preventing people from engaging in astronomy by shining bright lights or something, but then other fields are mentioned.

    Maybe the linked articles explain it, but from the summary it doesn't sound like they do.

    • Really? FTA:

      "This week’s all-AAS town hall was the first since Marcygate. Hundreds of members attended the meeting, which was intended to address sexual harassment, with a view toward fixing the culture in astronomy, but also science more broadly, and society at large. It was an ambitious goal for a town hall, but astronomers like to dream big." http://www.theatlantic.com/sci... [theatlantic.com]

      It's rather obvious.
    • I assumed it meant preventing people from engaging in astronomy by shining bright lights or something,

      I thought that's what it was too.

  • "I demand a safe space where I can act like an asshole."

    Watch people's head explode.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @05:32PM (#51310485) Journal

    First of all, we should stop the harassment of astronomers and astrophysicists just because they wore tacky shirts in a press conference. Once we're satisfied that's been settled (say, 5 years with no incidents), we can start working on the rest.

  • Reading the title, I thought that "spotlighting harassment" literally meant shining bright spotlights where astronomers use their telescopes. Which is, I guess, an effective way to piss them off.

  • Does it involve shining spotlights at astronomers? Wouldn't the perpetrators simply be fired?

    Or you mean just "harassment". That is fairly well defined legally and is generally a crime, if you are the victim of harassment, then you should collect evidence and talk to the police.

    And why the hell are the only sources between Forbes and CNN? Since when do they do anything scientific or actual news?

  • more social justice bullshit.
  • The almost violent manner in which this pogrom against perverts is being prosecuted has caused some zealots to overlook the fact that even the perpetrators need help more than they need to be punished. However they do need to be controlled if they cannot control themselves.

    Sure our entire society has an issue with how people interact, that is obvious, but a social maturing process should be achieved in a nurturing rather than a punitive manner. Not only do we need to educate potential perpetrators (which

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