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  • Press Release

    New Initiative: Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM

    John Buarotti, Sr. Public Relations Specialist

    Leading academic and professional societies have announced their launch of the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) to advance professional and ethical conduct, climate, and culture across their respective fields.

    The establishment of the Societies Consortium reflects a shared understanding that professional societies have a unique responsibility in their role as standard-setters for STEMM fields to address the pervasive problem of sexual and gender harassment. The new consortium was announced at a panel session held during the AAAS Annual Meeting on Feb. 15 at noon EST in Washington, D.C.

    The Societies Consortium includes 53 inaugural member societies representing disciplines across STEMM and continues to welcome others. It was established by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), with EducationCounsel serving as the policy and law consultant for the initiative.

    In addition to AAAS, AAMC, and AGU, professional societies serving on the Societies Consortium’s executive committee include: American Chemical Society, American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, American Physical Society, American Society for Cell Biology, Entomological Society of America, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. All 53 participating societies have agreed to help develop and deploy high-impact resources for societies and others in STEMM fields.

    “This consortium provides both leadership for a broad diversity of our societies’ collective voices and actions to advance ethics, equity, inclusion, and excellence in STEMM research, education, and practice,” said Shirley Malcom, senior advisor at AAAS.

    Focused on advancing full participation and excellence in STEMM and preventing and responding to sexual and gender harassment in STEMM environments, the Societies Consortium will provide impactful resources and guidance to address sexual harassment in the member societies’ own operations and more broadly within the fields they represent.  

    “Combating sexual harassment in academic medicine and across the STEMM fields requires a multi-pronged, ongoing, and sustained approach,” said David Acosta, MD, chief diversity and inclusion officer at the AAMC. “The Societies Consortium will help our organizations – and in turn, our respective member institutions – see across the landscape of STEMM as we work together to develop the strategy and tools needed to foster a more inclusive learning and workplace environment.”

    “We enrich discovery and innovation and strengthen our science when a diverse set of voices feel encouraged and supported in sharing their perspectives and ideas,” said Billy Williams, vice president for ethics, diversity, and inclusion at AGU. “While AGU, and many others, have been working independently to make a difference in areas of harassment, bias, and discrimination, this consortium will allow us to collectively use our voice, as leaders of the international science community, to truly transform the workplace culture in ways that allow all to thrive. This work will have an immeasurable impact not just on science, but on its ability to drive the next 100 years of innovations, discoveries, and solutions.”

    The Societies Consortium will develop research- and evidence-based resources for societies that include findings and expertise from social and behavioral sciences. Initial work will focus on model policies and procedures for society honors and awards, and additional information and resources will be available in coming months.

    “Consortium members are saying loudly and clearly that we need the best scientific output of all talent in STEMM, if these fields are to maximize their potential to drive innovation, economic strength and security, benefiting society across the nation and around the world,” said Jamie Lewis Keith, a partner at EducationCounsel. “And, they stress, that success depends on fully inclusive settings in which all professionals and students are treated with respect.”

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more.

    Founded in 1919, the American Geophysicial Union (AGU) is a not-for-profit scientific society dedicated to advancing Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity. We support 60,000 members, who reside in 135 countries, as well as our broader community, through high-quality scholarly publications, dynamic meetings, our dedication to science policy and science communications, and our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as many other innovative programs. AGU is home to the award-winning news publication Eos, the Thriving Earth Exchange, where scientists and community leaders work together to tackle local issues, and a headquarters building that represents Washington, D.C.’s first net zero energy commercial renovation. We are celebrating our Centennial in 2019.

    EducationCounsel, an affiliate of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, is a mission-based education consulting firm that combines experience in policy, strategy and law to drive significant improvements in the U.S. education endeavor from birth to postsecondary education, with a focus on achieving better outcomes for all students. EducationCounsel partners with and advises colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations on priority issues for higher education, with a focus on diversity, equity, quality and accountability. 

    The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) is a nonprofit association dedicated to improving the health of people everywhere through medical education, health care, medical research, and community collaborations. Its members are all 158 U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education; 13 accredited Canadian medical schools; approximately 400 academic health systems and teaching hospitals, including Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 70 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC leads and serves America’s medical schools, academic health systems and teaching hospitals, and the millions of individuals across academic medicine, including more than 193,000 full-time faculty members, 96,000 medical students, 153,000 resident physicians, and 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences. Following a 2022 merger, the Alliance of Academic Health Centers and the Alliance of Academic Health Centers International broadened participation in the AAMC by U.S. and international academic health centers.