GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 73-6
Presentation Time: 3:25 PM


LIBARKIN, Julie C., Michigan State University, Geocognition Research Lab, 207 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824

Sexual harassment – from verbal harassment to coercion – is gaining increasing visibility as a persistent and entrenched problem within academia. Experiences of sexual harassment increase the likelihood that victims (overwhelmingly women) will leave STEM careers. Women who do remain experience negative impacts on their careers, emotional wellbeing, and earning potential. Harassment that goes unchecked drains science of talent, and this drain results in losses in productivity and innovation, and ultimately people.

A comprehensive database of incidences of academic sexual misconduct reveals that the geosciences are not immune from sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct ( Ten cases of misconduct in the geosciences and related fields are documented through publicly available sources; these ten likely represent a small fraction of the total misconduct occurring within the discipline. This talk will analyze the characteristics of academic sexual misconduct cases - including the nature of the misconduct, the processes employed, and the ultimate sanctions imposed. These data will set a back drop for considering ways forward. Recommendations for trauma-informed and justice-centered approaches for addressing sexual misconduct will be considered in light of: 1) a comprehensive review of institutional and professional society policies; 2) outcomes of the Faculty and Staff Sexual Misconduct Conference (; 3) AAAS’ Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment (; and 4) National Academies’ Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education (