Category: Michigan Tech ADVANCE-relevant publications and presentations

When Bad Behavior Becomes Sexual Harassment

by Institutional Equity

Sexual harassment is no joke. This topic is no longer off-limits, and allegations are being taken more seriously than ever before. But when does behavior cross from bad to unprofessional to sexual harassment? Is sexual harassment only egregious acts of physical touching or fondling? Does the behavior have to occur more than once before it becomes sexual harassment?

So often, recipients of sexual harassment talk themselves into believing it’s not a big deal with thoughts like this:

  • “Don’t be so sensitive. It’s just a joke.”
  • “That is a really nice skirt. Can’t you take a compliment?”
  • “Is it really that bad if they’re looking at you? Who doesn’t like attention?”
  • “Why do they have to hug me? I guess that’s just what they do.”
  • “The comments are not directed toward me, so I should mind my own business.”

Jokes, comments and actions can be harmful. Don’t justify someone else’s actions. What matters is the impact of their actions. When someone else’s behavior affects you to the point that it interferes with your employment and programs associated with employment, that is the point at which the behavior needs to be addressed.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex, including verbal, physical, written and visual forms. Employees are encouraged to seek assistance as early as possible to prevent the harassment from continuing and possibly becoming more serious. Whether you are reporting harassment directed at yourself, another employee or a student, the key is to report the incident(s) so any harm can be remedied, the appropriate University personnel can respond and University procedures are followed.

Don’t suffer in silence. There are multiple resources, so choose the one that best meets your needs:

A&A Session for Chairs/Unit Leaders

During Academic Forum on Wednesday, it was mentioned that the ombudsperson talks to ~2 faculty per week.  This rate is consistent with results from Michigan Tech’s Work, Live, Learn Survey which found that 31.6% of women disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that they felt supported and mentored during the tenure-track years or the 22.4% who don’t feel valued by their department chair/school dean.  I know each of you care about your faculty so these findings are disturbing.  


Crafting positive climates so that everyone is valued and feels part of a supportive team relies upon broad engagement of all faculty in a unit and the chair can help influence this.  That is why ADVANCE has adapted the Advocates & Allies program to offer a learning environment led by peers.  As a Department Chair, have you been concerned about your unit’s community and cohesiveness over the last year?  Have you wondered about interactions between your faculty in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion? or related to the University Senate’s Proposal 41-21?  


Research has revealed that retention of faculty is closely coupled with how included individuals feel and that attracting new faculty is closely coupled with how well systems ensure equity is embraced within a unit.  Our diversity counts illustrate that Michigan Tech is one of the least diverse campuses in the nation (second resource here).  All of this can be intimidating, but the NSF ADVANCE effort on campus would like to help with a one-hour educational session from the Advocates & Allies (A&A) program.   A&A sessions provide the data and research, starting from the beginning, that enables individuals to gain perspectives and help them become allies for the success and inclusion of non-majority individuals. 


THIS EVENT WAS POSTPONED. Through a department chairs only session, we’d like you to preview this program and consider inviting us to present to your department.  This session will be presented by our Advocates Team in coordination with the ADVANCE Academy for Responsive Leadership.  Please RSVP  and join us on Wednesday, March 31st from 4 to 5.

THIS EVENT WAS POSTPONED. When: Mar 31, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Register in advance for this meeting:https://michigantech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvdumqqj8jEtKTYYe0ArOPrzgqPUpuUOuE  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Equal Pay Day 2021 Marks Progress, Challenges

by Faith Morrison, Tech Today, March 23, 2021

Women earn less than men do, on average. This difference, the gender wage gap, is approximately 18 % across all workers. The gap is even larger for women of color.

The problem is present even just one year from graduation. Just one year from college graduation, women make seven percent less than men, even after accounting for college major, occupation, economic sector, hours worked, marital status, GPA, type of undergraduate institution, institutional selectivity, age, geographic region and months unemployed since graduation (“The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, AAUW, 2018).

Tomorrow (March 24) is Equal Pay Day (averaged for all women), a day that symbolizes the extra days women must work to catch up to what the average man earned the previous year. In 2020 Equal Pay Day was March 31, and in 2019 it was April 2, indicating that incremental progress is occurring.

Red is worn on this day as a symbol of how far women and minorities are “in the red.” Join the Copper Country League of Women Voters and other supporters for a “Red Out” to recognize Equal Pay Day.

Due to COVID-19 considerations, our usual cookies and literature event will not take place this year. We can all safely wear red, however.

Find out what you can do to help close the gap.

Mothers Rebuild: Solutions to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges

by Allison Mills, University Marketing and Communications

Over the summer and fall, paper after paper revealed that mothers are one of the demographics hardest hit by the pandemic. From layoffs and leaving careers to do caretaking, to submission rate decreases and additional service projects, the data were clear, but the follow up less so. Many of the problems are not new and will remain after the pandemic. But a new paper, published this week in PLOS Biology, outlines methods to help solve them.

“In the spirit of the well-worn adage ‘never let a good crisis go to waste,’ we propose using these unprecedented times as a springboard for necessary, substantive and lasting change,” write the paper’s 13 co-authors, including Amy Marcarelli (Bio Sci), who helped lead the paper’s section addressing professional societies. She sees the work through her lens as an ecosystem ecologist.

“Some of my most recent work has been around cascading and indirect effects and how effects viewed on short time scales may have very different outcomes at long time scales,” Marcarelli said. “What I’ve learned from that research is that you can’t abstract a single characteristic of an organism and expect that to explain its ecological role. And [in academia] we try so often to treat ourselves as researchers — and not as mothers and partners and daughters and leaders — and that’s to the detriment of all of us. It’s to the detriment of us as individuals but it’s also to the detriment of our academic system because if we don’t treat people as whole people then we fail them.”

Marcarelli joined researchers who are also parents to outline ways to help mothers recover and rebuild academic careers during and after the pandemic. Read their solutions on mtu.edu/news and follow the conversation with @mturesearch on Twitter.