The Association of Women in Science (AWIS) recently issued this statement in response to a high level director’s resignation from a key government STEM office. Their statement calls out an ongoing pattern (both at the national and local level) of institutional negligence in which organizational leaders have regularly failed to proactively respond to practices of discrimination, harassment, and bullying in a timely manner. They instead dismiss the importance or impact of discriminatory events leading to a public perception that nothing is being addressed, a perception that demoralizes institutional climate. Vetting candidates for leadership should include careful assessment of these issues. If issues arise after hire, proactive responses are important; organizations must enforce a zero tolerance policy for bullying and harassment. The AWIS statement repeats a common example in which BIPOC faculty are frequently mistaken for a staff occupational identity and we note that this example itself perpetuates inequity, both for those faculty and for those whose occupation is implicitly disparaged. Routing out the systemic patterns of discrimination that have become commomplace is difficult and requires vigilance and a demonstrated commitment to zero tolerance.
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