Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2018 Jun 12.


Over the last few decades, research, activity, and funding has been devoted to improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. In recent years the diversity of those participating in these fields, particularly the participation of women, has improved and there are significantly more women entering careers and studying science, engineering, and medicine than ever before. However, as women increasingly enter these fields they face biases and barriers and it is not surprising that sexual harassment is one of these barriers.

Over thirty years the incidence of sexual harassment in different industries has held steady, yet now more women are in the workforce and in academia, and in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine (as students and faculty) and so more women are experiencing sexual harassment as they work and learn. Over the last several years, revelations of the sexual harassment experienced by women in the workplace and in academic settings have raised urgent questions about the specific impact of this discriminatory behavior on women and the extent to which it is limiting their careers.

Sexual Harassment of Women explores the influence of sexual harassment in academia on the career advancement of women in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce. This report reviews the research on the extent to which women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine are victimized by sexual harassment and examines the existing information on the extent to which sexual harassment in academia negatively impacts the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women pursuing scientific, engineering, technical, and medical careers. It also identifies and analyzes the policies, strategies and practices that have been the most successful in preventing and addressing sexual harassment in these settings.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and National Science Foundation (Award # OIA-164492), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Award #10003408), National Institutes of Health (Award #HHSN26300101), National Institute of Standards and Technology (Award # SB134117CQ0017/18105), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Award # WC133R-11-CQ-0048, TO#14), the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.