As the leading US government funder of scientific research, we at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are deeply concerned about sexual harassment in science (Nature 529, 255; 2016). With the help of colleagues in government, academia and the private sector, the NIH aims to identify the steps necessary to end this in all NIH-supported research workplaces and scientific meetings.
In September last year, we restated our expectation that organizers of NIH-supported conferences and meetings should assure a safe environment, free of discrimination (see go.nature.com/zmukk8).
Over the next few weeks to months, we plan to work with governmental, academic and private-sector colleagues to identify potential steps to translating our expectations into reality. An important first step will be to gather as much data as possible to more fully understand the nature and extent of sexual harassment among scientists. These data should guide us in determining what kinds of policy and procedure are most likely to help. We will also work to determine what levers are already available to influential stakeholders — us as funders, as well as university administrators and departments, journal editors, and organizers and hosts of scientific meetings.
We owe this to our colleagues and the public, who trust in our ability to make the biomedical research enterprise the best that it can be.