I was giving an associate at the service desk her lunch break.
Of the academics who completed our voluntary survey, from more than two dozen universities around Australia, Sexual or gender-based discrimination were even more common, reported by Women made up The survey targeted people working within the history discipline Respondents were self-selecting but the breadth of disciplines represented indicated that these are university-wide problems.
Together the responses are a sign that all academic disciplines are ripe for a reckoning against sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination. Academics and PhD students reported sexualised bullying, unfair workloads, sexual harassment and in some cases even sexual assault, usually by their superiors and supervisors.
A recurring scenario reported involved male supervisors or senior colleagues pressuring female PhD students or junior academics into sex. In many cases, coercion and intimidation were involved. The global MeToo movement prompted our initiative, and the Australian survey findings come in the wake of similar revelations at home and abroad.
Last August, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported one-in-five Australian university students had been sexually harassed on campus.
Universities have a problem with sexual assault and harassment: Since December, an online spreadsheet on Sexual Harassment in the Academy has attracted over 2, entries, mostly from the US. And just last month, a US report found that half of women in science had experienced sexual harassment, while the Australian Human Rights Commission announced a national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Common patterns of discriminatory behaviour reported include men belittling, marginalising and colluding against female colleagues. Transphobia and homophobia were also reported. Women in my department have often been given junior, labour-intensive administrative roles while the men take the lighter jobs and junior men are protected from heavy administrative work so they can cultivate their genius.
Pregnant women and mothers reported experiencing high rates of discrimination and harassment, with reports of inadequate parental leave and workplace cultures hostile to caring responsibilities.
MeToo is not enough: Only six individuals who had made a formal complaint said they were satisfied with the response from their institution.
By contrast, 47 respondents said they had made a complaint that was then ignored, dismissed or mishandled. In several cases, respondents said they had experienced reprisals from perpetrators or institutions as a result of their complaints.
A further 77 respondents had not complained, in many cases citing a lack of reporting mechanisms or fear of reprisals. In one instance where a male professor was accused of inappropriate behaviour, his colleagues refused to take action.
Heavy toll Aside from reprisals, respondents reported a range of personal and professional consequences.
Intellectual consequences were reported by Many people changed research area, resigned from their job, or left the profession altogether in an effort to avoid the alleged perpetrator.
One respondent gave up a long-term contract and became mired in insecure casual employment. The major recommendation from the survey is that academic institutions must improve their mechanisms to assist victims of sexual abuse or harassment.
Instead they called for structural changes, including the decentralisation and diversification of institutional authority.
Increased female leadership was proposed as one option, but this alone will not solve structural problems. A more radical redistribution of formal and informal power within the academy is required to make academia less hierarchical and decentralise power from top professors and deans.
Above all, the survey makes it clear there is a problem that needs to be addressed. One senior female academic had this advice:MHHC. The Morad-Hughes Health Center's mission is to provide accessible, quality primary healthcare for the people of Jackson County and the surrounding areas without discrimination based on race, nationality, sex, age, handicap, religion, or the ability to pay.
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