On Saturday, the governing council of AAAS (publisher of Science) in Washington, D.C., unanimously adopted a policy on sexual harassment and other misconduct by scientists who have been elected as AAAS fellows. Starting on 15 October, fellows who have been proved to have violated professional ethics—which are defined as including sexual harassment—may be stripped of the prestigious honor.
“Harassment has no place in science,” says Margaret Hamburg, president of AAAS. But, she adds, “We are not going to make decisions based simply on a newspaper article, a blog, or somebody’s anecdotal report.”
The new policy will allow any AAAS member to request revocation of a fellow’s title for breaches that range from harassment to fabricating results. AAAS will require proof in the form of investigative reports or announcements by institutions, organizations, or government agencies. AAAS has about 9000 fellows among its 120,000 members.
Advocates welcomed the policy. “I am thrilled that AAAS has shown themselves to be the leaders we knew they were,” says BethAnn McLaughlin, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who recently launched petitions urging AAAS and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to eject harassers. NASEM said in May it is considering revising its bylaws to allow ejection of harassers.
AAAS fellows who have been sanctioned recently for sexual harassment or misconduct include Francisco Ayala, formerly of the University of California, Irvine; Thomas Jessell, formerly of Columbia University; Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University’s Tempe campus; and Inder Verma, formerly of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California.