Ethics Center teams up with AGU to address gender discrimination in science

7/9/2019 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Communications

Written by American Geophysical Union (AGU) Communications

The National Center for Professional & Research Ethics at the University of Illinois is teaming up with the American Geophysical Union to launch The AGU Ethics and Equity Initiative: Catalyzing Cultural Change in the Sciences with New Resources and Tracking Tools. This initiative, a three-year grant awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is designed to directly address sexual harassment and other gender discrimination matters through new educational resources and validated measurement tools. The new resources in this project are designed to allow for broad adaptation by the science community

C.K. Gunsalus, NCPRE Director
C.K. Gunsalus, NCPRE Director
“We are proud to partner with AGU to address these important issues facing the scientific community," said C.K. Gunsalus, NCPRE Director. "This project will extend our existing tools and our belief that an environment that supports research integrity will promote creativity and productivity of all participants in the research enterprise. These resources will help move the needle in terms of how institutions respond to and address research climate challenges.”

Focusing on development, implementation, and broad adoption, the initiative will:

  • Create a series of annual, unique, and in-person workshops and leadership development offerings related to advancing antiharassment and related ethics and equity in science, to reach more than 500 scientists
  • Develop a validated, integrated and easy to use work-climate assessment tool that allow for direct benchmarking and analysis, targeting broad promotion and adoption by academic and scientific institutions. The work to be performed under this initiative will include a comparative dimension and lead to new understandings and interventions to address the identified problems.

“Multiple national studies have identified persistent sexual harassment and harassment-related issues in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that have driven talent from these fields. These issues have been ignored for decades, institutions, societies, and individuals are looking for solutions,” said AGU CEO/Executive Director Chris McEntee. “This grant from the Sloan Foundation helps AGU build on recommendations from the 2018 National Academies of Sciences report on Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and will help address an urgent problem using a data-driven, ready to use approach that the science community needs.”

The project will be guided by a 12-person, multidisciplinary advisory board that includes representatives from across scientific organizations and institutions.

 “Harassment in science has been a particular concern for scientific disciplines requiring field research. AGU is positioned to lead the effort across the sciences to help ensure that these issues are proactively addressed and that the scientific community is to open and welcoming to all,” said AGU President Robin Bell. “The grant from the Sloan Foundation will help us ensure Earth and space sciences continues to lead the sciences by helping our community with data, tools, and innovative approaches to attract and retain everyone keen to engage in science.” 

In September 2017, AGU was the first scientific society to adopt a revised Ethics Policy included harassment as a form of research misconduct. This policy was expanded to include AGU members, staff, volunteers, and non-members participating in AGU-sponsored programs and activities including AGU Honors and Awards, and governance. This new initiative also builds on AGU’s recent work to help establish the Societies Consortium for Addressing Harassment in STEMM. Now with more than 110 member societies, the Consortium is charged with further developing and sharing leading practices that drive cultural change and advance workplace excellence in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical fields.

NCPRE is a global leader in developing resources to promote professional and research ethics. Its flagship product, the Survey of Organizational Research Climate (SOURCE), is the only validated instrument specifically designed to measure empirically the climate of research integrity in academic organizations. SOURCE is used by institutions across the world, and has been featured in Nature magazine.

 The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation selects grantees that “have a high expected return to society, exhibit a high degree of methodological rigor, and for which funding from the private sector, government, or other foundations is not yet widely available.”


Founded in 1919, AGU is a not-for-profit scientific society dedicated to advancing Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity. We support 60,000 members, who reside in 135 countries, as well as our broader community, through high-quality scholarly publications, dynamic meetings, our dedication to science policy and science communications, and our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as many other innovative programs. AGU is home to the award-winning news publication Eos, the Thriving Earth Exchange, where scientists and community leaders work together to tackle local issues, and a headquarters building that represents Washington, D.C.’s first net zero energy commercial renovation. We are celebrating our Centennial in 2019. #AGU100

The National Center for Professional & Research Ethics (NCPRE) creates and shares resources to support the development of better ethics and leadership practices. It focuses on leadership in a variety of institutional settings, from academia to business. NCPRE is part of the Coordinated Science Laboratory in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in three broad areas: direct support of research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics; initiatives to increase the quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and efforts to enhance and deepen public engagement with science and scientists.

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This story was published July 9, 2019.