AAAS Insiders Petition to Revoke Honors of Sexual Harassers

The organization says it’s working on a policy.

Aug 24, 2018
Shawna Williams
ISTOCK, ARTISEER

Update (September 17): AAAS announced September 15 that it has adopted a new revocation policy for elected fellows “in cases of proven scientific misconduct, serious breaches of professional ethics, or when the Fellow in the view of AAAS no longer merits the status of Fellow.”

Using the hashtag #TimesUpAAAS, 36 researchers recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their science communication work posted an open letter asking the society not to bestow honors on those “who have engaged in harassment and discrimination.” This group of AAAS Leshner fellows—along with hundreds of other signatories, including numerous AAAS fellows—urges the organization to devise a sexual harassment policy that applies not just to elected fellows but other honorees as well, and that requires honorees to “disclose any ongoing investigations as well as prior findings of professional misconduct.” 

As a Twitter campaign under the hashtag gained steam on Tuesday (August 21), the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced that “Harassment has no place in science. That’s why we’re working on a revocation policy for elected @AAAS Fellows, currently under consideration by the AAAS Council.”

The #TimesUpAAAS campaign is not the first effort to pressure the organization to change its policies around sexual harassment by honorees. Last month, neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin of Vanderbilt University started a petition calling on AAAS to kick out fellows found guilty in sexual harassment or assault investigations. A spokesperson for the organization told The Scientist at the time that it was in the process of developing a policy around sexual harassment by fellows. 

See “Petition Asks AAAS to Remove Fellows With Sexual Harassment Records

While details of the policy have not been announced, Tuesday’s tweet from AAAS prompted a declaration of victory from McLaughlin, who is also petitioning the National Academy of Sciences to take similar action. She now urges readers to pressure the National Institutes of Health and lawmakers to prohibit sexual harassers from receiving training grants, using NIH funds for travel, or serving on funding boards.

See “Petition Asks National Academy of Sciences to Boot Sexual Harassers