AERA Executive Director Speaks at AAAS Town Hall on Sexual Harassment Prevention
AERA Executive Director Speaks at AAAS Town Hall on Sexual Harassment Prevention

February 2020

(L to R): Vicki Magley (University of Connecticut); Felice J.
Levine (AERA); Shirley Malcom (AAAS); Jamie Lewis Keith
(EducationCounsel LLC); Sheila O’Rourke (University of
California, Davis); Andrew Black (AAAS)
Photo credit: Robb Cohen Photography​

On February 14, AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine participated in a Town Hall on “Combating Sexual and Gender Harassment in STEMM: An Enterprise Approach” at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle, WA. The Town Hall focused on the prevalence of sexual and gender harassment in science, technology, engineering, math, and medical (STEMM) fields, and the need for swift and sweeping actions to address it.

The Town Hall, organized and moderated by Andrew Black (chief of staff and chief external affairs officer at AAAS), was one of several sessions devoted to the theme of “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.” The objective of these sessions was to expand access to STEMM education, strengthen and diversify the science and technology workforce, and amplify the voices of those underrepresented and marginalized within STEMM.

In addition to Levine, speakers in the Town Hall included Vicki Magley (professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut), Shirley Malcom (head of education and human resources programs at AAAS), Jamie Lewis Keith (partner at EducationCounsel LLC), and Sheila O’Rourke (senior campus counsel at the University of California, Davis).

“We are very fortunate to have such a fabulous group of thought leaders working on the issue of sexual harassment in STEMM, which is among the most critical to ensuring a fair, equitable, and strong STEMM enterprise,” said Black. “Only when we bring together leaders of institutions, societies, industries, and funders, and apply the growing body of data and research that is now available, can we make meaningful progress. I hope this session brought us one step closer to achieving that goal.”

The Town Hall began with the participants giving an overview of the importance of the June 2018 release of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Consensus Study Report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which brought about the #ScienceToo movement and its conversation about the prevalence of sexual and gender harassment in STEMM fields. After the NASEM report was released, several academic institutions and scientific societies responded with initiatives that sought to tackle this problem by identifying pressing needs as well as the significant challenges related to sexual and gender harassment.

During the Town Hall, participants provided highlights of progress made thus far and their plans for future work. Levine, for example, spoke about the AERA Ombuds Program and similar initiatives introduced by scientific societies to foster culture change.

Levine’s participation in the Town Hall is a continuation of AERA’s deep involvement in combating sexual harassment in STEMM fields. Last February, AERA joined dozens of other organizations to launch the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM, which now includes more than 120 science societies. Levine serves as co-chair of the consortium’s executive committee.

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