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DPS 2015 – Discussing Harassment

November 14, 2015

The DPS meeting was full of many fabulous events this week, including a focus on combatting harassment.  Although one could wish we did not have to talk about harassment because it was not happening, unfortunately it does happen…  WAY TOO OFTEN!!!

For those who were not there, here is a summary of some of the ways harassment was addressed.  I am sharing these as inspiration for continued discussion of this issue at future events.

Please share additional good ideas/conference best practices if you know of them (or if I forgot any from DPS!)

  1. In the next post I will give a summary of the Women in Planetary Science Lunch where Amy Simon gave an excellent talk packed with all sorts of advice for throughout your career stages.  She also highlighted some of the hurdles women face, including harassment.
  2. Christina Richey was awarded the Harold Masursky award for meritorious service to the Planetary Science Community and delivered a moving and data-driven talk about the problem and the solutions surrounding harassment.
  3. An informal Men’s Auxiliary meeting was organized by Bob Pappalardo, David Grinspoon, and Andy Rivken to discuss harassment and ways to help change the culture.
  4. The AAS anti-harrassment policy was prominently displayed on the DPS meeting website, and there was talk about implementing a check-box for conference registration stating you are aware of the policy.

And many, many, more people showed support by attending the events, and in general being concerned about the problem.

Everyone would love more solutions, but I am EXTATIC that this issue is being talked about instead of whispered behind closed doors.  Many people, including myself, are fed up with having traumatized friends, and are wondering what we can do to prevent people from experiencing harassment in the future.  As Christina stated, the word-of-mouth/wisper culture is not enough to protect people in our field, so openly talking about the issue is a great first step towards showing harassers that they will be noticed, and they cannot as easily get away with repeat offenses.

Many people expressed a desire to help, and hopefully more ally workshops will take place in the future.  Another great suggestion was to increase the number of trusted people that have extra training in both (1) the options open to people who have been harassed, and (2) emotional support.  As of right now, the burden for helping those who have been harassed falls on a few people, and the need for help is sometimes overwhelming.  For example, when a big story about harassment comes out, many go through PTSD remembering their own situations, thus creating a flood of people in need.


I know these have been shared before, but great resources on harassment and anti-harassment policies can be found on the CSWA website and their blog, the Women in Astronomy Blog.

Also, here is Christina’s presentation about anti-harassment policies from the 2012 Reno DPS, and a similar summary from LPSC 2014.


SWRI also has an excellent anti-harassment policy they said I could share, so let me know if you would like a copy.


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