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A new study has found that over three-quarters of biology conferences do not have codes of conduct. Half of conferences that do have codes of conduct fail to mention sexual misconduct, and many do not include methods for reporting misconduct and consequences for violators.
This lack of codes or incomplete codes contribute to a culture that can promote inequities and power differentials that harm historically marginalized groups, such as women and people of color.
Addition - Prevalence - Content - US - Biology
In addition to examining the prevalence and content of 195 U.S. and Canadian biology conferences' codes of conduct, the study's authors also outline recommendations for how conferences can improve their codes in order to encourage collaboration, promote safety and support diverse scientists.
"Conferences tend to be a strange hot spot of misconduct because attendees are away from their home institutions in an informal setting," said Alicia Foxx, a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University and first author of the study. "Codes of conduct are really important for guiding behaviors. It sets a standard for how everyone should act in certain situations."
Study - Week - July - Proceedings - National
The study will publish during the week of July 8, 2019 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was led by Northwestern and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
After combing through guidelines from 195 biology conferences, the team found that only 24% of conferences have a code of conduct. Of that 24%:
Conference - Marks - Foxx - Room
"We didn't find a single conference that hit all the marks," Foxx said. "They all have room to improve."
Because of the mix of power dynamics, social events and alcohol consumption, academic conferences have long been hot beds for sexual misconduct, racism and identity-based discrimination. Foxx and her collaborators felt compelled to study codes of conduct addressing these issues due to their own and colleagues' negative experiences....
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