NSF announces new university requirements for reporting sexual harassment

September 21, 2018

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced additional steps to combat sexual harassment and other forms of harassment within the agency and organizations and field sites where NSF-funded research is conducted. The new policy, to be released on Friday, Sept. 21, requires those with NSF funds (over 2,000 U.S. institutions of higher education and other organizations) to report to the foundation findings of sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault by principal and co-principal investigators. This policy begins October 21.

Universities, like Lehigh University, will be required to notify NSF if any funded scientists have been investigated for sexual or other formsof harassment and found to have violated related policies of the institution. If an individual was placed on adminstrative leave or other action was taken through an investigative process, the NSF is also to be notified. 

A fact sheet is here https://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=296671. 

A summary article also appears in Inside Higher Education.

The NIH does not have the same level of policies, though many are asking the agency to take similar steps. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/nih-director-expresses-concern-of...

Harassment complaints to NSF can be submitted online: To improve accountability, NSF encourages anyone with a harassment complaint involving an NSF-funded researcher to report the incident to their institution and visit NSF's sexual harassment webpage. From that site, individuals can submit harassment complaints directly to the NSF Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The webpage also includes "promising practices" on policies, effective codes of conduct and standards of behavior that may be applied everywhere NSF-supported research is conducted, as well as frequently asked questions.

Over the summer 2018, a National Academies of Science & Engineering report was published which covers definitions, prevalence, impact and recommendations to address sexual harassement. The report: Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was commissioned in 2016 by the NSF's Office of Integrative Activities.