21 Mar 2018
Barbara Comstock recently chaired a subcommittee hearing on “Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in Science”. During the hearing she made some incredible statements for someone who claims to be leading the charge on this issue.
During her remarks to the committee Comstock proceeds to blame the victims, starting off by saying that because they are scientists, “Perhaps they haven’t been engaged socially a lot.” Even if you accept her stereotype that all scientists are socially awkward, just what does she think this has to do with sexual harassment?
In just sixty seconds, Comstock manages to say the following:
- Female scientists are studying too hard and lack social skills
- They need to go places with a buddy
- Attributes harassment to cultural differences
- “Racially, people have different expectations”
- We haven’t prepared women sufficiently to deal with harassment in the workplace
Or as Comstock put it:
“Just sort of common sense kind of things that our mom might tell us”
You can watch the entire ludicrous statement below.
Comstock wants a checklist to give women so they can change their behavior in order to avoid harassment. Dr. Clancy answered Comstock’s nonsensical question by correctly putting the onus on the supervisors instead of the employees.
“I really think it’s on the PI, the principal investigator, or the boss, or the director of the field site.”
Dr. Clancy went on to point out that her research showed that a majority of research sites did not have a code of conduct or if they had one, the respondents were unaware of it.
Sexual harassment in the workplace, including scientific field sites, is a serious problem. Unfortunately, all Barbara Comstock has to offer are anonymous stories she has heard from friends of friends, and an embarrassingly outdated approach that blames victims.