Sexual Harassment/Assault in Academia – EVERY WEEK

For the past four months, I have been compiling sexual harassment/assault cases in academia – harassment or assault on students or staff that is carried out by professors, administrators, or entire departments. It took several months for me to track down and compile old cases. Today, the number of documented cases sits at 364…come back in a few weeks and I promise the number will have increased.

Now, I simply maintain the compilation by searching for new cases once a week. I would go crazy if I immersed myself in this every day, so I simply take a few moments on Mondays to check out what the internet has to offer. Once a week I search for combinations of “sexual harassment”, “sexual assault”, “professor”, “dean”, and similar terms. What surprises me the most is that EVERY week I find at least one case of sexual harassment/assault in academia. At least one professor, dean, or president who makes inappropriate comments, touches students or colleagues, asks for sexual favors in exchange for grades, assaults students or colleagues. Or, I find a lawsuit that was filed in the past week – a case of sexual harassment/assault that is still pending. EVERY week.

This morning? This morning I again had something new to add to the post. I found four typical examples of typical sexual harassment and typical sexual assault:

How anyone can look at this list and not recognize that academia has a problem is beyond me. Sexual harassment and assault by professors/deans/provosts/presidents are not flukes. Please don’t tell me they are. Do something about it, academia. Do something.

Gaslighting and Implicit Bias – Academic Style

So – I just got an email from an administrator. After discussing the business at hand, he ends the email by requesting that I change the “tone” of my emails. Setting aside for a moment that “tone” is not easily discernible in written correspondence, here are my issues with a male administrator telling me, a female faculty, to change my “tone”:

1) This is the same administrator who once sat across from me in a meeting and BEFORE I EVER SPOKE told me that I shouldn’t get emotional. Classic step on the slippery slope of gaslighting. In that meeting, he assumed I would have a “tone” before I ever even spoke.  More than anything else, it seemed like an attempt to silence me. Or, put another way, if  you discredit me before I speak, you won’t have to pay attention to what I am saying.

2) The “tone” the administrator objected to was my reasonable, and often repeated, request for policies and procedures for administrative tasks. How does the unit assign job duties, complete paperwork, spend funds on students, hire new faculty, etc.? The problem isn’t my “tone” – the problem is a fundamental disagreement about the place of equity, inclusion, and transparency in the academic workplace. I would argue that an effective working environment must include practices that promote equity (here, for an example, is a discussion of equity theory in the workplace).

3) Accusing a woman of having a “tone” is all about implicit bias. In my case, I think my administrator is engaging in prescriptive bias – essentially penalizing me for engaging in the traditionally male behaviors of being successful, promoting my (and my lab’s) successes, negotiating for resources, and making reasonable requests of the unit. This prescriptive bias leads to me being seen as problematic and not a team player.

The effect of the bullying and implicit bias I have experienced in the workplace (not to mention sexism) is that I am no longer as engaged in the success of my units and institution as I used to be. I am very involved with my lab, of course. Those few units I am affiliated with that explicitly promote equity and inclusion get most of the remainder of my attention. The units that are secretive, or which allow discriminatory behavior to persist, or which spend little to no time dealing with implicit biases (everyone has them!) simply won’t benefit from my time and attention. If I knew how to change things for the better, I would. As it stands, the best I can do is focus on impacting those spaces that are safe and inclusive and work to educate my students on the best mechanisms for navigating the rest of the world.


Sexual Harassment in Academia – International Edition

Last updated 5/23/2016

I have identified over 330 cases of faculty and administrators engaging in sexual harassment at U.S. universities. In creating this list, I have come across troubling references to cases occurring outside of the U.S. To be clear that sexual harassment on the part of professors or administrators is not just an “American” thing…here is a short list of cases. Note that this is a very small sample simply because only a handful of these cases are reported in the English language media and the veracity of many stories is difficult to verify.

2014: Brajendra Sutradhar, Mathematics, Memorial University. 20 DAY SUSPENSION, RETIRED.

2016: David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, History, Brock University. NOT “ASSIGNED TO CLASS AND IS NOT ON CAMPUS”.


2014: Wu Chunming, Xiamen University. FIRED.

2015: UNNAMED, Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University. FIRED.

2015: Rajat Kumar Mohanty, Linguistics, English and Foreign Languages University. JAILED.

2015: Mario Schneider, Political Science, Hebrew University. BARRED FROM CAMPUS FOR 18 MONTHS/PAID COMPENSATION TO STUDENT.

2015: ELEVEN LECTURERS!, Hebrew University. OUTCOME UNKNOWN.,7340,L-4663660,00.html


1994: Toru Yano, Southeast Asian Studies. Kyoto University. RESIGNED/WENT INTO SECLUSION IN BUDDHIST TEMPLE.

2002: UNNAMED, Ehime University. FIRED.

2015: UNNAMED, Okinawa Prefecture College of Performing Arts. FIRED.

2015: Kang Suk-jin, Mathematics, Seoul National University. JAILED.

2012: UNNAMED, Mathematics, University of Zurich. FINED.


Caitlin Kirby Presents at the 2016 Fate of the Earth Symposium

Caitlin Kirby, first-year PhD student in the Geocognition Research Lab, present at the 2016 Fate of the Earth symposium last week. This was Caitlin’s first poster presentation as a graduate student. She presented on preliminary results from interviews she conducted with individuals who work at the nexus between climate science organizations and Tribes; this is a first step on an NSF-funded project investigating ethical training that occurs at this nexus. She is currently co-analyzing these interviews with an undergraduate (Citralina Haruo) from our collaborator, the Sustainable Development Institute at College of Menominee Nation.

Good job, Caitlin and Citralina, and well done!


GRL Graduate Student Paty Jaimes Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

The Geocognition Research Lab is proud to announce that first-year graduate student Patricia (Paty) Jaimes is the proud recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship! Paty’s research project, Within and Beyond the Leaky Pipeline: Understanding Minority Student Transitions in Earth System Science, will allow her to explore the underlying causes of the lack of diversity among Earth System scientists. Paty’s work has the potential to dramatically influence what it means to be a scientist studying the planet and we are all looking forward to both her research and her recommendations for diversifying the field!

Congratulations, Paty!

GRL student Caitlin Kirby receives grant!

Caitlin Kirby, a first-year graduate student in the GRL, has hit the ground running! She recently submitted her first grant proposal and the lab is excited to announce that she received funding from Michigan State University’s Be Spartan Green program for her project entitled: Spartans’ Climate Change Knowledge and Empowerment. Caitlin will use her grant funds to “evaluate [student] understanding of and attitudes towards climate change” and “develop workshops to address common knowledge gaps and provide tools for students to act to impact climate change”.

I am so impressed with Caitlin’s drive, her ability to write a winning grant proposal, and the new ideas she brings into the lab every day! Congratulations, Caitlin!