The #metoo movement has reached the science community, as several prominent scientists accused of sexual harassment and misconduct are being held accountable for their actions. In light of these incidents, the National Science Foundation has been reviewing and updating its sexual misconduct policies. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Public Affairs Advisory Committee (ASBMB PAAC) provided comments to the National Science Foundation’s Important Notice No. 144 regarding its latest actions to reduce sexual harassment and misconduct in the science community.
The NSF’s revised Article X requires institutions to report to the agency findings of sexual misconduct by scientists who receive NSF funding and those placed on administrative leave for investigations or findings related to sexual misconduct. The NSF will also be able to replace a Principal Investigator or co-PI, suspend or terminate an award, or reduce funding in response to the violation. The ASBMB PAAC supports the NSF’s commitment to combatting sexual misconduct and recommends that:
- NSF consider working with universities and institutions to establish a standardized method of investigating sexual misconduct claims;
- NSF ensure that the reporting processes will protect the privacy of those who report sexual misconduct; and
- NSF publicize its action plan in response to different sexual harassment and misconduct behaviors to ensure transparency and consistency.
The ASBMB PAAC also encourages the development of federal standards on compliance and reporting/response procedures across different federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy Office of Science. For the full ASBMB commentary and complete list of recommendations submitted to the NSF, please click here.