The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) commends the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) efforts to address harassment. In the Notice on Harassment (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/issuances/in144.jsp) issued on February 9, NSF establishes a stricter stance on misconduct of NSF funded scientists and requires institutions to report findings of sexual harassment, or any other kind of harassment involving a PI or co-PI or any other grant-funded personnel. Consequences of such a finding could include suspension or termination of awards or requiring the grantee to remove personnel. The NPA appreciates NSF’s leadership in proposing such actions and hopes that this will serve as a model that will be similarly implemented by other funding agencies.
In 2017, the NPA surveyed postdoctoral scholars about workplace sexual harassment. Preliminary results were shared at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia meeting on October 4, 2017, with final findings to be published soon. Especially in the case of sexual harassment, it is clear, that these behaviors are enabled by power differentials existing within the academic environment. According to anonymous responses to our survey, there is widespread fear of reporting and doubt that appropriate actions will result.
The NPA believes that implementation of reporting requirements around all types of harassment will provide a safer academic research environment and hopes that other funding agencies will follow suit with similar policies.