Sexual harassment could be driving women away from science careers

Reports detail sexual harassment rates nearing 70% during field work.

Megan Lynch
January 27, 2020 - 6:30 am
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill (KMOX) - There's been a push to encourage girls to try careers in science, but researchers fear sexual harassment will continue to limit female involvement.

"They've had this dream their whole life to be that scientist, that's what they've always wanted to be," yet Dr. Carol Colannino says many women are being driven away. 

The Southern Illinois Univerity Edwardsville professor and researcher says recent reports reveal as many as 70% of women experience sexual harassment in their early field assignments.   

Colannino will be using a grant from the National Science Foundation to look for solutions over the next three years. 

"So we're going to try out a couple of different suggested recommendations and see if those play out in the field and how that might impact how research is done and how students perceive their safety when they're in the field," Colannino says.

Colannino says the biggest challenge is that scientific fieldwork is not a typical work environment.  She says sexual harassment of women is more common in male-dominated sciences. 

In some cases, it may be supervisors taking advantage of younger researchers, while in others it's supervisors overlooking when one student harasses another. 

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