Stopping Sexual Harassment In The Space Science Community (Update)

Berkeley astronomer in sexual harassment case to resign, Nature

"Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy is stepping down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, following revelations that a university investigation found he had sexually harassed multiple students between 2001 and 2010. ... Marcy has also resigned as principal investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project, a US$100 million initiative announced in July to search for signs of intelligent life in the Universe."

Famous Berkeley Astronomer Violated Sexual Harassment Policies Over Many Years, BuzzFeed

"A university investigation into astronomer Geoff Marcy, exclusively obtained by BuzzFeed News, has determined that he violated sexual harassment policies at UC Berkeley. Marcy has written a public apology, though he denies some of the investigation's findings. ... "We consider this to be a very serious matter and the university has taken strong action," the university said in a statement. David Charbonneau, a professor of astronomy at Harvard University, said the matter has broad implications. "Geoff Marcy is undeniably the most prominent exoplanet researcher in the U.S.," he said, referring to the study of planets beyond our solar system. "The stakes here couldn't be higher. We are working so hard to have gender parity in this field, and when the most prominent person is a routine harasser, it threatens a major objective nationally."

Keith's 12 October note: This behavior is wrong - no matter where it happens, why it happens, or who does it. NASA, NSF et al and the academic community have spent immense amounts of time and effort trying to make the scientific community inclusive and diverse, and insure that it's activities are conducted free of harassment or discrimination. A lot of positive progress has been made. But when someone of Marcy's stature does something like this - and the system designed to prevent it fails to bring the behavior to a halt for all these years - all that progress gets set back. I would hope that this sad episode will serve as an impetus to double down on the enforcement of existing policies - and strengthening those policies when they do not work. And as the media reports on this story they need to stop and think about the actual victims and what they are going through - and stop spending so much time talking about how hard this is for Marcy. I posted some comments on this matter on the Buzzfeed website when the editors changed the original title of this article to water down what it was actually about. The got hammered for that and fixed their headline.

Sign the Petition "I support the people who were targets of Geoff Marcy's inappropriate behavior and those who have spoken publicly about it. I agree that sexual harassment has no place in our community."

If you comment, please think carefully about doing so. Don't make this whole problem worse by being a jerk.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 14, 2015 4:21 PM.

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