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The Advocacy Axis

1 Jul 2019, 19:00 UTC
The Advocacy Axis
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Adapted from a Plenary talk given at the 234th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society.By Joan Schmelz, PhDNew high-profile sexual harassment cases continue to appear in the press almost daily. A few years ago, a cluster of these cases involved Astronomers. At the time, I decided to talk to the press, in part to help take the heat off of the Title IX complainants, several of whom wished to remain anonymous. Here’s one of my quotes from back then: “We have to find a way to change the system - to take the pressure off the young women in the most vulnerable stages of their careers and shift it to the senior men, many of whom have admitted to knowing this ‘open secret’ for years if not decades.” --Joan Schmelz (Oct 2015) A strange thing happened as a result of that publicity. About a dozen senior male astronomers (individuals in our scientific community with the most privilege) sought me out to tell me that they had known about the harassment in one or more of these cases, but had never intervened. Here’s an abbreviated list of the reasons they gave for doing/saying nothing: It was none of my businessI didn’t ...

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