The prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C., has voted to allow expulsion of members for breaches of its Code of Conduct, including sexual harassment. Until now, election to the 156-year-old academy, a pinnacle of scientific achievement, has been a lifetime honor.
In voting that concluded on 31 May with results announced this morning, 84% of those who cast ballots approved an amendment to the organization’s bylaws, allowing expulsion of a member by a two-thirds vote of NAS’s 17-member Council; 16% voted against the change. The average age of NAS members is 72; 83% are men. Although 2242 NAS members were eligible to vote, the academy did not disclose how many participated.
“All women who have had a tough road—even those who have made it—I’m sure like me are happy to see this day where they can finally say: ‘The climate is gonna change,’” says Marcia McNutt, president of NAS, who drove the vote to the change the bylaws. “No longer will a climate be tolerated that doesn’t allow women to have the same chance as their male colleagues to thrive.”
The change comes in response to the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. In June 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), of which NAS is a part, issued a landmark report documenting pervasive sexual harassment in those disciplines, including a broad experience of gender hostility that goes beyond groping and has driven untold numbers of women out of science.
“We know from research that one of the most potent predictors of sexual harassment is the organization’s tolerance of it,” says Lilia Cortina, an expert on sexual harassment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a member of the committee that wrote the 2018 NASEM report. “This vote...sends a strong message that this institution will not tolerate gender-based abuse or harbor known abusers.”
Read the full article at Science.