A Study Found More Than Half The Women Working In Academia Have Been Sexually Harassed & STEM Fields Are The Worst

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a shocking statistic: 58 percent of women in academic have been sexually harassed, and it’s the worst in the STEM fields.

It’s a startling percentage, but not one that should be unexpected. With sexual assault all over the male-dominated media and the entertainment industry, it’s no surprise the the boys-club fields of math and science are just as dangerous for women. Although a lot of work has been done to reduce this number, a lot more needs to be done to make a significant change.

The report cited a University of Texas survey that found 20 percent of female science, 25 percent of female engineering, and 40 percent of female medical students have experienced sexual harassment. It detailed how university level science is set up in a way that easily breeds sexual harassment because the field is overwhelmingly run by men. “Research has consistently shown that institutions that are male dominated — with men in positions that can directly influence career options of women who are subordinate to them — have high rates of sexual harassment,” the report says.

This type of environment is obviously harmful to women, and it must come to an end. The report offered detailed ideas on how to reduce the instance of sexual harassment, including overturning the systems of funding and mentoring (that usually involve one, male, mentor for one student, opening up a perfect opportunity for harassment that won’t be reported) and passing laws that can be filed directly against employers.

Many women have responded to the report, and their stories are heartbreaking.

Julie Libarkin, professor at Michigan State University said “An emeritus professor came up behind me at a public retirement party on campus, bent his knees, and humped me...No one jumped in to rescue me, and no one seemed to have realized that I had just been assaulted.”

Another woman named “Lily” said that her worst moment came when he advisor called her into a meeting not for her intellect or skills, but to “be the estrogen in the room.” “He didn’t ask me to go because of my strong communication and negotiation skills...or because I was co-managing the project. He asked me to go because I was a girl,” she says.

Many more have shared their stories on Twitter with the hashtag #sciencetoo.

This harassment will continue until something is done to stop it. Having the numbers to back up the experiences of women who share their stories of harassment is an important first step.