Jackie Speier: battling sexual misconduct in the sciences atop the Hill

As sexual misconduct in the academic sciences has gained more media attention, the Science Soapbox team headed down to Washington, D.C. to chat with Congresswoman Jackie Speier about how, and why, she’s brought the issue to the House floor.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is the U.S. representative for California’s 14th district. She has a history of combatting sexual harassment in hallowed institutions, from the military to the House of Representatives. Her attention has more recently turned to academia, and the sciences in particular.

In June, Rep. Speier introduced the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act to strengthen prevention and enforcement efforts against sexual harassment and violence on campuses. In January, the congresswoman sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education that made public the sexual harassment record of Dr. Timothy Slater, a University of Wyoming professor of astronomy. The previously sealed report detailed several sexual harassment violations while Dr. Slater was at the University of Arizona.

Slater’s case — which is just one of many that have recently come to light — underscores an urgent need for increased transparency in matters of sexual misconduct. So in this episode, we lend Rep. Speier our soapbox to discuss her proposed legislation, the plight of women in STEM, and what the academic community can do to remedy the situation.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during the show:

This episode was recorded on February 12, 2016 at the U.S. House of Representatives and on February 16 in the Rockefeller University Science Outreach Lab at Rockefeller University. Special thanks to Visager for music and to Mike Kepka/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris for the photo.

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