Killing Dreams and Aspirations

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Many women today are pursuing and going into the field of science. Most start off young going into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs. Lately, it has been brought to light what certain females endure behind closed lab doors.  The scientists who are supposed to be mentors are sexually harassing female students.

Geoffrey Marcy, a prominent scientist in the field of Astronomy, recently made headlines for the harassment of female students. An individual close to the case and who didn’t want to be identified said, ‘’we see it in Anthropology, we see it in Philosophy, we see it in Physics, we see it in the Humanities, and we see it in Engineering in particular. Astronomy just happened to be, sort of, first.’’ Sexual harassment happens all the time, but it did not get any national attention until recently. The contradiction is that this is happening around the time when there is a nationwide push to persuade more females to become more involved in the science field. It makes you think about whether or not this is all part of some secret ploy. Young women come into the science field wanting to make a change and become somebody in life. They do not come expecting their mentor to be thinking about or acting out on their sexual desires. Why mess up a young girl’s life when it is only starting? All of this will only make women stay away from the science field. These predators are only destroying the dreams of another young girl out there pursuing a career as an Astronomer, Rocket Scientist, Biologist, etc.

A recent study conducted showed that seventy one percent of women in the science field were sexually harassed while conducting field work. Another twenty five percent were sexually assaulted. The men who do these devious acts are setting a bad example for scientists, professors, and advisers in the field. They are also breaking these girl’s confidence. An individual who is an Astrophysicist and insisted on anonymity said, “you question any praise that your work gets because this person said they were praising your work but it was actually a ruse to get you alone.” No one should ever have to feel all their hard work was for nothing. Honestly, that is the worst feeling in the world.

The sad case is young women who have been sexually harassed never get any justice. Their cases are dismissed and these sexual predator scientists and advisers keep their jobs, respect and life. The victim is the one who has to make the ultimate sacrifice between saying something or keeping their mouth shut. If they report him, these women will be abandoning their research and years of hard work. That is the main reason why many women do not reach out for help and continue to take this abuse. It is not fair to mess up someone’s life and not suffer any consequences. Not reporting the incident to the proper authorities will  only make these men think that they can get away with anything. It is also making the chances greater of another innocent woman being sexually harassed.

All hope is not lost for these young women. There are a number of advocates who are trying to put an end to the wrongs done to victims. U.S. Representative Jackie Spier of California stated, “Many (victims) have left the field and that’s tragic. It’s tragic for society, it’s obviously tragic for the young women who don’t get to pursue their careers and it’s because someone was given the license to conduct themselves in an egregious manner.’’ She is sponsoring a bill to force institutions to report harassment allegations if they have money from the government.  Universities tend to ignore these allegations and not fire the adviser but give them time off or make them retire. If you know some of your students are being done wrong, why cover it up? It is not fair the way institutions treat this as they tend to ignore the victim even though they know the victim is not lying. Scientists wanting to put an end to sexual harassment in the field plan to release a set of principles by the end of 2016 to help innocent victims better respond to this dangerous dilemma.

Patricia Square is a Sophomore Biology Pre Med major from Monroe, Louisiana. She will be a contributing writer for The Campus Chronicle for the 2017-2018 school year.

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