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Women In Science

National Academies passes sexual harassment policy

New rules revoke membership for proven sexual harassers

by Andrea Widener
June 5, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 23

 

By a wide margin, members of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have agreed to take away membership in the prestigious institution from sexual harassers.

The members voted 84% to 16% for an amendment to the NAS bylaws that allows the academy’s governing body to expel members who have committed sexual harassment or other offenses. It is not clear how many of the 2,350 US members voted on the change.

The National Academies has been under pressure from the scientific community to rid itself of proven sexual harassers, especially in the wake of a June 2018 report that found sexual harassment is pervasive in the scientific community.

Under the change, the 17-member NAS Council, the academy’s governing body, can rescind membership for code of conduct violations. A committee will be established to review alleged violations.

The Code of Conduct, approved by the NAS Council in December 2018, says that “NAS members must refrain from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and bullying in their professional encounters, especially when they involve power differentials, as these behaviors have adverse impacts on the careers of scientists and the proper conduct of science.”

An April 30 vote at the NAS annual meeting allowed for this larger vote of the membership. A simple majority was required for it to pass.

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