The American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology applauds the passage of House Resolution 36, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019. The bill, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 23, is good start to address the extensive problem of sexual and gender harassment in STEM.
Standardizing the various policies addressing sexual harassment across federal science agencies is an important first step toward reducing harassment in the scientific workforce. H.R. 36 directs the National Science and Technology Council to create an interagency working group to coordinate disparate policies of federal science agencies to decrease sexual and gender harassment. The bill also directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop uniform policies to govern federal science agencies’ actions to reduce and respond to sexual harassment reports.
The legislation also directs the National Science Foundation to fund research into the effects of sexual and gender harassment on the STEM workforce and examine effective interventions. This research would build on work by the National Academy of Sciences, which released a report in June 2018 on the effects of sexual and gender harassment of women in STEM.
Although H.R. 36 has passed the House, the U.S. Senate has yet to contend with its version of the bill, S.B. 1067, in the Senate health, education, labor and pensions committee. The ASBMB urges senators to pass S.B. 1067 to make this bill become law.