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Thousands urge US science academy to revoke membership for sexual harassers

An online petition is calling for the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to revoke the membership of scientists who commit sexual harassment or assault. The move brings fresh attention to a troubling issue. As of 23 May, the petition, created by neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville, Tennessee, had gained 2,289 signatures. “I’m impressed by the response,” McLaughlin says. “It speaks to the fact that time’s up in academia.” Comments on the petition point to other non-scientific organizations that have revoked membership for misconduct. In February, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it would require universities and institutions to disclose the identities of NSF-funded researchers who have been disciplined for harassment. The NAS takes harassment and assault “very seriously”, says Jennifer Walsh, a spokesperson for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. A 22 May statement by the presidents of each of the three academies says that a dialogue has started about the standards of professional conduct for membership.

Nature 557, 747 (2018)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-05270-2

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