At the Psychonomics conference, I attended the Women in Cognitive Science (WiCS) workshop. For those of you who don’t know, WiCS is an organization that seeks to improve the visibility of women in the field, create an environment that encourages young women to join the field, provide support and training, and assist with professional development. I’ve been a member of WiCS for a couple years now, and I always make a point to attend their workshop if I’m going to Psychonomics. In previous years, the topic of the workshop has always been useful, and I’ve taken advantage of their speed mentoring program. For someone just starting out or someone more established, there’s something to be gleaned from the meeting.
This year Vicki Magley presented on sexual harassment in the work place and what organizations should be doing about it. It’s without a doubt a timely topic. Magley started off the keynote address with some statistics that I thought were share-worthy:
She covered more, but these were some main points. The latter half of her keynote address focused on what organizations and we could be doing to combat sexual harassment. One recommendation she made was that that prevention training should focus on gender harassment. Education is the key! If organizations can shed light that this type of harassment is considered sexual harassment, this could potentially reduce the amount of gender harassment that’s transpiring in the work place, which could, in turn, reduce the occurrence of unwanted sexual tension or coercion because they occur very rarely on their own.
We should also be focusing on respect and civility for all persons. Additionally, it’s important not to assume that you understand what’s happening with those around you. If someone is being harassed, they won’t always tell someone. Fear of retaliation is the biggest predictor of why harassment goes unreported. One more important thing I learned from Magley is that federal agencies (e.g., NSF, NIH, etc.) have direct reporting policies. If any part of an institution/university is receiving funding from a federal agency, they could report directly to these agencies instead of reporting to their Title IX office. This could be especially useful to know if someone is fearful of retaliation from their own institution.
Her talk was very inspiring and relevant especially given the recent news headlines. But also we need to remember that culture change is slow, and while we want to make a difference right now, we need to be persistent to see change unfold over time.
Also, quick shout out to my wonderful speed mentors Debra Titone and Viorica Marian! Thanks for all of the great advice!
written by Jen Blush