Stanford University
Robbie Gries speaking at #MeToo in the Geosciences at Stanford Earth.

#MeToo in the Geosciences

Stanford Earth hosted a conversation, #MeToo in the Geosciences, to continue the dialogue between faculty, staff and students around issues of sexual harassment, bullying, microaggressions, and their impacts in geoscience settings, in particular. 

BY Elenita Makani Nicholas
ClockJanuary 31, 2020

The #MeToo movement has driven conversations on harassment and bullying across multiple professions since the Harvey Weinstein scandal erupted in 2017. While Hollywood and its culture is a world away from academia, scientists and students in the geosciences are raising awareness that similar problems have persisted in their field, along with other STEM and academic areas. 

In an effort to raise consciousness about the need for change and how “upstanders” can make a difference, Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) hosted a #MeToo in the Geosciences event on Jan. 29. More than 50 faculty, staff and students gathered for an important conversation on sexual harassment, bullying, microaggressions, and their impacts in geoscience settings, in particular. 

“More than 50% of women faculty and staff, and 20-50% of women students have encountered sexually-harassing conduct in the university setting,” said Steve Graham, Dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “My plan is to continue this conversation as a school and as a community. Clearly our culture must change. Caring is important but it's just not enough."

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Clearly our culture must change. Caring is important but it's just not enough.

The event was led by former Geological Society of America president Robbie Gries. She shared some of the ways in which geoscientists are particularly at risk for harassment – such as working in remote field settings. She also noted that geoscientists can be particularly well-disposed to solve these issues because of their appreciation for the importance of data and how it can bear on solutions. “This is second nature to us. This is what we do in our profession. We form questions, we collect data, we process it, and we make adjustments. We need to apply that to our social lives, as well as our science,” said Gries, who was the 2018-2019 GSA president. During her tenure, she drove this discussion to the forefront in her 2018 GSA Presidential address “Navigating ‘Me, too’ in the Geosciences.”

Following remarks from Steve Graham and Robbie Gries, attendees were invited to join in small group conversations focused on strategies for recognizing and responding to harassment. Associate Dean for Educational Affairs Robyn Dunbar left the group with an urge to action: “In a group setting, the numbers show that 80% of the time, a bystander may do nothing in the wake of harassment. So let's remember the tools that we practiced today to become upstanders for those around us."

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Let's remember the tools that we practiced today to become upstanders for those around us.

Elenita Makani Nicholas

SCHOOL OF EARTH, ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

elenitanicholas@stanford.edu

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