8 February 2018

NSF Announces New Steps to Help Eliminate Sexual Harassment

By Richard Fienberg

AAS Press Officer

This post is adapted from a National Science Foundation statement:

NSF: Where Discoveries Begin

The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not and will not tolerate sexual misconduct and today announced new steps to help eliminate such transgressions from science and engineering.

Presidents of universities and colleges and heads of other NSF grantee organizations just received an important notice detailing new steps intended to help eliminate sexual harassment in science. At the same time, NSF employees received a notice clarifying how sexual harassment complaints are to be reported and handled.

NSF is bolstering its commitment to safe research workspaces by instituting new grant term and condition requirements, enhancing web resources and establishing clear, unambiguous standards of behavior wherever science is conducted. These steps make it clear that NSF will take unilateral action as necessary to protect the safety of all grant personnel.

NSF will make the following changes:

  1. Institute new grant term and condition requirements — NSF has developed a new award term and condition that will require grantee organizations to report findings of sexual harassment, or any other kind of harassment regarding a PI or co/PI or any other grant personnel. The award term and condition also will require the grantee to report the placement of the PI or co-PI on administrative leave relating to a harassment finding or investigation. This term and condition will make it clear that NSF may take unilateral action as necessary to protect the safety of all grant personnel, to include suspending or terminating an award or requiring the grantee to replace or remove personnel. NSF will solicit feedback on this new award term and condition through its Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide Federal Register process within the next several weeks.
  2. Enhance web resources to better communicate police and procedures involving harassment — NSF expects all awardee organizations to establish and maintain clear and unambiguous standards of behavior to ensure harassment-free workplaces wherever science is conducted, including notification pathways for all personnel, including students, on the primary and supplemental awards. This expectation includes activities at all research facilities and field sites and during conferences and workshops. All such settings should have accessible and evident means for reporting violations and awardee organizations should exercise due diligence with timely investigations of allegations and corrective actions.
  3. Expect all awardee organizations to maintain clear standards of behavior — The NSF Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is tasked with seeking to ensure that NSF-funded programs and projects are free of discrimination. ODI recently launched a dedicated web portal to consolidate policies and procedures, promising practices, and frequently asked questions relating to sexual and other forms of harassment with the intent of making it easier for the research community and the public to access information. This portal is where NSF will continue to add content related to ending harassment. To access the portal, please visit NSF.gov/harassment.

For any questions, comments or concerns regarding harassment, please contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) at programcomplaints@nsf.gov or +1 (703) 292-8020.