UMD to Partner with Three other Universities, Professional Association to Combat Sexual Harassment in the Field
A new collaborative, multi-university project that aims to address sexual harassment in the field of political science received a three-year totaling more than $1 million from the National Science Foundation.
Associate Professor Stella Rouse from the UMD will work with colleagues from Purdue University, University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Nevada Las Vegas on the effort entitled, “#MeTooPoliSci: Leveraging a Professional Association to Address Sexual Harassment in Political Science.”
The project will focus on developing and applying methods and interventions that academic departments of political science across the country can utilize to improve workplace climates and reduce incidents of harassment. Through department climate studies, bystander training, facilitated department dialogues and policy discussions, the research team will examine how issues of harassment affect women with intersecting identities such as sexual identity, race and ethnicity.
The researchers are partnering with the (APSA) to ensure their work has the potential to impact the nation’s 125 Ph.D.-granting departments and more than 1,100 B.A./M.A.-granting departments in political science. According to APSA, women account for less than 29% of political science faculty (2010), and 70% of female graduate students in the field in 2017 reported sexual harassment on campus.
"Sexual harassment is prevalent in academia and the field of political science is no exception," said Rouse. “The issue is an obstacle to the ability of women in the discipline to experience a productive and intellectually stimulating learning and working environment. We expect to improve the climate in institutions of higher learning and bring attention to issues of parity and inclusion.”
One of the major goals of #MeTooPoliSci is to develop an evidence-based “Climate Toolkit” that will empower both departments and individuals to engage in best practices and to track progress over time. Rouse specifically will focus on a portion of the strategy related to upstanding bystander training, which encourages people who witness forms of bias or harassment to speak up.
The researchers hope their approach will not only influence the field of political science, but will be shared across other disciplines and professional organizations.
This story was originally published August 21, 2019.