Time to end harassment and gender-based violence in research and academia

To celebrate International day for the Elimination of violence against women on the 25 November, the H2020 UniSAFE project which focuses on gender-based violence in universities and research organisations is joining forces with other projects focused on achieving structural change and greater gender equality in research and academia (SUPERA, SPEAR, TARGET, TARGETED-MPI, GEARING ROLES, RESET) as well as with other projects, organisations, and individuals, to launch campaign running between 22 and 29 November 2021 to raise awareness of gender-based violence in research and academia.

Gender Based Violence can be physical, sexual, economic/financial, psychological – online or offline – and can include gender or sexual harassment. 

It remains prevalent in the EU. According to an EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s Report, 83 million to 102 million women (45 % to 55 % of women) in the had sexual harassment since the age of 15, and one in three women has been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. It has and has devasting consequences for those who experience it but it also has serious social, economic, and health repercussions on organisational and social levels. 

Universities and research organisations are not exempt from this gender-based violence indeed it is pervasive and affects students and staff members. It is pervasive in part because of the specific organisational structures currently present in academic institutions. Indeed the culture of research and higher education is characterised by asymmetric power relations, hierarchical structures and strong dependence on senior staff, toxic masculinity as seen by tendencies towards hypercompetition and individualism. Sexual harassment and violence on behalf of students, are also widespread in universities – they’re a core part of what’s known as “lad culture”. A UK study found that out of the 554 university students surveyed, 63 admitted to rape, sexual assault and other aggressive forcible acts.

Despite the scale, the political significance and the growing interest in academia, gender-based violence in research organisations remains largely under-reported and under-researched. It also often remains unspoken.

How can you get involved?

From 22 to 29 November, all projects, organisations, and individuals passionate about eradicating gender-based violence in academia and research organisations are invited to actively post on social media using the hashtag #SafeResearch4All.

Media, articles, reports designed or collected by UniSAFE and sister projects have been made freely available in an Awareness-raising Toolkit. When sharing UniSAFE results, full acknowledgement of the project and authors must be mentioned, as stated in the introduction.

Get involved now and have your voice heard!

If you wish to share contents on the same topic, whether research results, findings, data, reflections on the issue, or examples of what your institution, region or country is doing to prevent gender-based violence in academia or research organisations,– share by email at unisafe-eu@esf.org for them to be added to the toolkit. 

Fighting gender-based violence in academia and research starts with bringing the issue to the surface, paving the way for victims to speak out, and for all students and research staff to be proactive role models in this respect.

Contact: Colette Schrodi, European Science Foundation, UniSAFE communication officer: cschrodi@esf.org

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