Sexual Harassment Bill Approved By House Science Committee

In an effort to stop sexual harassment in the scientific industry, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology unanimously approved a bipartisan legislation on June 20. This new bill follows a report made in 2018 by the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that revealed around 58 percent of individuals working in science and academics go through some form of sexual harassment.

The bill couldn’t have come at a better time, since sexual harassment is slowly becoming very common, especially in workplaces where the system places privilege on men and automatically makes women a minority. And although women are the biggest victims by numbers, even men experience some form of harassment, too, from superiors, starting a culture where any form of harassment, either sexual or not, is becoming somehow acceptable.

“The  Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019  is an important step in tackling the serious issue of sexual harassment in the sciences,” said committee chair  Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)  at a committee markup that advanced the bill for consideration by the full House.

On the first day of the 116th Congress, Johnson and committee ranking member Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) jointly introduced the legislation.

According to them, the bill calls for the National Science Foundation to expand their research efforts as to further analyze and better understand the root of sexual and gender harassment in the office, as well as develop possible interventions to reduce it.

“I hope [the bill] can play an important role in focusing federal efforts to stamp out sexual harassment in the sciences,” Johnson said at the hearing.

“Unfortunately, too many women have been driven out of STEM careers due to a culture of harassment and abuse. H.R. 26 takes the first steps to addressing the problem,” Lucas added.

He then followed this by saying that pushing women to have a career in science is essential, partly because women are responsible for a lot of field advancements, and also because they make up half of the workforce.

However, Lucas is still wary of how the new bill would be received by the senate. “I’ve been around long enough to know that you can’t guess the other body,” he said. 

Sexual Harassment Is Prevalent In Science Fields Women experience high number of sexual harassment and abuse in scientific fields. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock