Navigating "Me, too" in the Geosciences
Sunday, noon - 1:30 p.m., ICC, Sagamore Ballroom 5
Robbie Rice Gries
GSA Presidential Address
We have seen the “Me, too!” movement expand across all aspects of humankind. From Hollywood where it grew legs, to Congress, state legislatures, the White House, to huge corporations, small businesses, sports, television personalities, the military, the Olympics, and, yes … to GSA.
Before Harvey Weinstein, before something hit the proverbial fan—GSA was already receiving and addressing complaints from members who experienced harassment (ranging from bullying to sexual assault) at GSA functions and in their professional lives. We launched a review of our ethics position, our obligations, and our code of conduct to ensure our Society had the ability to effectively deal with unprofessional behavior at GSA meetings, field trips, and other sanctioned events. Recognizing our lack of good definitions and effective procedures, GSA’s initiative was timely, and good strides have been made for our Society to appropriately deal with these types of inappropriate actions. We can take “proactive measures.”
I believe people in the sciences have some excellent skills to address harassment, prejudice, and gender issues. We have the scientific skills and intellect to address many societal problems, and we are good at it. We use data, published studies, field trips, and in-depth conversations with experts in our disciplines to advance our knowledge. We prime the creative pumps of our minds with these actions and techniques to find science-based solutions to nagging problems. This is second nature to the professional geoscientist.
What is not second nature to all of us is how to employ these skills, techniques, use of experts, and data-gathering abilities in our interpersonal relationships, including our interactions with colleagues, staff, students, and families. But we can. And this can make a bigger difference.
Let’s look at historic, sometimes reprehensible behaviors demonstrated by geoscientists, changes that have already been made to counter this behavior, statistics about harassment by scientists today, and possibilities for advancing our science through advances in interpersonal skills and behaviors.