UT Southwestern joins partner network of National Academies’ Action Collaborative on preventing sexual harassment in higher education

DALLAS – March. 5, 2021 – UT Southwestern Medical Center is one of 13 inaugural organizations joining a newly launched partner network of The National Academies’ Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education to support evidence-based policies and practices for preventing sexual harassment.

There are many types of sexual harassment. Those that are overt and clearly against the law are considered just the surface of what is known as the sexual harassment iceberg. There are more types, such as implicit gender bias, that are often less recognized, but which also contribute to sexual harassment.

Helen Yin, Ph.D., Associate Dean for the Office of Women’s Careers, Professor of Physiology and UT Distinguished Teaching Professor, serves as UT Southwestern’s representative to the network.

“We all have implicit bias and we have to decrease bias for a just society,” said Helen Yin, Ph.D., Associate Dean for the Office of Women’s Careers, Professor of Physiology and UT Distinguished Teaching Professor who serves as UT Southwestern’s representative to the network. “We don’t want to only deal with sexual harassment aftermath, we want to prevent sexual harassment through training.”

In addition to providing online resources for individuals with concerns about sexual misconduct to submit a complaint and get support, UT Southwestern’s recent efforts in the prevention of sexual harassment include:

  • Dedicated support for women faculty, including the Office of Women’s Careers, which partners with the Women in Science and Medicine Advisory Committee on initiatives to keep a pulse on women’s concerns and challenges at all levels
  • Symposia such as Promoting Gender Equity in Academic Medicine
  • Campuswide screening of the documentary, “Picture a Scientist,” which followed the stories of multiple female scientists who had experienced sexual harassment, along with a group discussion to share experiences
  • Analysis of compensation, time to promotion, and faculty retention
  • Faculty leadership development programs to foster open dialogue between faculty members of diverse backgrounds on the topics of sexual harassment, gender, and race
  • Implicit bias mitigation training and active bystander intervention training to empower employees to de-escalate unacceptable behavior
  • Surveys such as the AAMC StandPoint Faculty Engagement Survey, which has started to include questions in 2019 about sexual harassment to proactively identify and address potential challenges
  • A Take Back the Night event held by medical students with the mission of ending sexual, relationship, and domestic violence in all forms, supported by the Women in Science and Medicine Advisory Committee.

“UT Southwestern strives to be a model of diversity and inclusion. We are therefore dedicated to advancing programs, activities, resources, and affiliations that advance awareness and promote the culture of understanding needed to eradicate sexual harassment in its many forms,” said W. P. Andrew Lee, M.D., Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Dean, UT Southwestern Medical School.

The National Academies report on Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2018) found that between 20 and 50 percent of women students and more than 50 percent of women faculty and staff experienced sexually harassing behavior while in academia. The Partner Network includes a range of higher education-focused organizations sharing their work to prevent and address sexual harassment in higher education.

“Effectively preventing harassment requires collective sharing, not only from colleges and universities but also from organizations across the higher education ecosystem,” said Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a member of the Action Collaborative’s leadership group. “These groups possess diverse perspectives and solutions that can be of great value to the work of the Action Collaborative, and the new Partner Network will help us capture and integrate that knowledge.”

Sixty colleges, universities, and research institutions are currently members. Organizations that join the new Partner Network pledge to:

  • Participate actively in the work of the Action Collaborative
  • Share information about the organization’s efforts and innovations around preventing and addressing sexual harassment
  • Use, adapt, implement, and share the resources and practices that are identified or published by the Action Collaborative

Other Partner Network Organizations include Association of American Universities (AAU), Center for Institutional Courage, Emory University, The Fieldwork Initiative, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oregon State University, The 1752 Group, University of Arizona, University of California, Davis, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Whatcom Community College. 

Dr. Lee holds the Atticus James Gill, M.D. Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Yin holds the Margaret Yin Chair for the Advancement of Women Faculty and Peter and Jean D. Dehlinger Professorship in Biomedical Science.