Sexual Harassment, Harassment and Victimisation in Academia

I remember very well one of my first conferences abroad as a PhD. student. We were socialising in a pub and meeting researchers from all over the world. My colleague and I were introduced by my supervisor to a male professor. He looked at us briefly and exclaimed something like:

I can fully understand why you chose these two as your new PhD students.


Their breasts are great!

I can still remember how extremely painful the situation was. I was completely shocked and did not react at all. And neither did my colleagues. I strongly felt that I did not belong in academia, and that this was obvious from the comment. I so wish I could say that I said something clever, and that I walked out of the situation strong etc. That did not happen at all. I felt like such an outsider and the comment rested with me the whole conference.

Until very recently little has been known about sexual harassment, harassment and victimisation in academia. But now one of the well known Swedish universities has done a study to understand the occurrence of sexual harassment, harassment and victimisation in academia. Recently they presented a report around the topic that is based on questionnaire, interview and focus group data from employees, doctoral students and students. In total, 61 interviews and 21 focus groups were
completed, and the surcey was sent to all employees, doctoral students and students who were registered for the autumn of 2018. The response rate was 34% for employees and doctoral students, and 32% for students.

The report can be downloaded from Tellus’ blog.
In Swedish:
In English:

From the report: “Amongst employees and doctoral students, 25% of women and 7% of men state that they have been subjected to sexual harassment at some point during their employment at Lund University. 8% of female respondents stated that this had occurred in the last 12 months; the corresponding figure for men was 3%.”