The National Academy of Sciences has voted to allow members to be expelled for breaches of conduct — including sexual harassment.
Under the new amendment announced Monday, NAS will allow people to present evidence that a member of the prestigious scientific organization has violated its code of conduct, which prohibits discrimination, harassment, and scientific misconduct. The 17-person governing council will then vote on whether to expel that member. Up until now, there hasn’t been a way to revoke lifetime membership.
“All women who have had a tough road — even those who have made it — I’m sure like me are happy to see this day where they can finally say: ‘The climate is gonna change,’” Marcia McNutt, president of NAS, said to Science. McNutt told Science she expects to receive requests “very soon” to expel existing members of the academy.
The vote marks the latest in a string of steps to curb harassment in science, which a landmark National Academies report published last year found is rampant in academic science and medicine. February saw the launch of Time’s Up Healthcare, an organization that aims to tackle harassment, discrimination, and inequality across the health care industry. That same month, the National Institutes of Health apologized for its past failures to recognize and address the culture of sexual harassment that has impacted scientists for generations.
The new policy from NAS follows a similar change from another prominent scientific organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In September 2018, AAAS adopted a new policy on harassment that allows the organization to revoke the membership of elected fellows in cases of proven scientific misconduct or serious violations of professional ethics. The organization made clear that sexual and gender-based harassment are grounds for removal. The National Science Foundation also finalized a policy last fall that requires any organizations it funds to report any findings and determinations of sexual harassment.