ADV_GEO_1 Many factors play into the decisions of women to leave science, including overt and subtle forms of gender and racial discrimination. The proposed work addresses three related barriers to the retention of women in the geosciences: (1) Hostile climate due to the prevalence of sexual harassment, especially in areas with field training and research; (2) Perceptions that sexual harassment is infrequent and affects few individuals; and (3) Perceived and real lack of resources for responding to sexual harassment.

We propose to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual harassment through development of tested workshops for department heads, chairs, and faculty and a survey of the geoscience community. Our work will address the culture of academic geoscience by empowering the earth and space science community to stop and prevent sexual harassment by developing strategies of bystander intervention and disseminating these through in-person and online workshops. We will enhance ethics training of current and future geoscientists by producing teaching modules that include sexual harassment. We will partner with professional societies for national dissemination and sustainability.

We take a multi-level approach to transform workplace climate (De Welde and Stepnick, 2015b): at the institutional level, by addressing academic cultures through the leadership of scientific societies and on campus efforts; structurally, through policies and processes that guide professional conduct and response to sexual harassment; and individually, through education and empowerment of women and men.

The aims of our research are to:

  1. Develop and test sexual harassment bystander intervention training programs with geoscience-relevant scenarios and that incorporate experiences of diverse women.
  2. Develop teaching modules on sexual harassment for geoscience faculty and instructors to use in research ethics training courses.
  3. Disseminate training workshops, webinars, and teaching modules via partnership with professional societies for sustainability.
  4. Develop a sustainable model that can be transferred to other STEM disciplines.

We focus on geoscientists because it is one of the least diverse of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Little data on how sexual harassment affects women with intersectional identities in the geosciences leads to a lack of awareness of the unique challenges faced by minority women and a lack of appropriate institutional response. The geosciences have an additional challenge: research and training at off-campus field sites where access to support networks and clear guidelines for conduct are weakened or absent.

ADVANCEGeo Publications

  • Barnes, R.T., E. Marín-Spiotta and A.R. Morris. 2018. Building community to advance women in the geosciences through the Earth Science Women's Network. In: B. Johnson, ed. Women and Geology: Who Are We, Where Have We Come From, and Where Are We Going? GSA Special Publication (in press)

  • Schneider, B.B., L. Tranel, and M. Cremeans. 2018. The Association for Women Geoscientists: 40 Years of Successes, Struggles, and Sisterhood, in Johnson, B. (ed.), Women and Geology: Who Are We, Where Have We Come From, and Where Are We Going?: GSA Special Publication (in press)

  • Marín-Spiotta, E. 2018. Harassment should count as scientific misconduct. Nature 557: 141. doi 10.1038/d41586-018-05076-2

  • Mattheis, A. and Schneider, B. 2018. Intersectional approaches to counter harassment and discrimination in geophysics: SEG Technical Program Expanded Abstracts.

  • Marín-Spiotta, E. and B. Schneider. 2018. Time's Up for Harassers in Academia. The POSTDOCket 3(16) Published March 2018

  • Schneider, B., M.A. Holmes and E. Marín-Spiotta. Sexual harassment in the sciences: Response by professional societies. Geoscience Currents No. 125. American Geosciences Institute. Published 14 March 2018

  • Williams, B. M. 2017. NSF grant: AGU and partners aim at gender issues in geosciences. Eos 98. Published 10 August 2017.

Related work prior to this NSF award