Blog

SWS Statement on Harassment and Sexual Violence

SWS STATEMENT ON HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), like many other organizations, is reckoning with how to deal with and respond to the issue of sexual and gender harassment. As accounts from the #MeToo Movement reiterate, this sort of harassment is painfully common across workplaces, industries, and occupations.

It is important to state publicly and unequivocally: SWS does not tolerate, condone, or accept harassment of any type. There is no question that such behavior is detrimental to individual health, career opportunities, relationships, and adversely affects survivors in many other areas of life. But on top of that, it undermines trust in institutions and individuals; and perpetuates various types of inequalities. And finally, acts of harassment are incompatible with our values as a feminist organization.

Additionally, we recognize that harassment comes in many forms and is not just driven by gender. Harassment also occurs on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, ability, sexual identity, religious practice, and other factors. None of this is acceptable.

The recent attention to this issue within our discipline reminds us that in many cases, organizational policies maintain the status quo and re-victimize survivors. In doing so, institutions frequently protect themselves and the harasser(s) in question rather than taking steps to sanction and prohibit the harassing behavior itself. As a feminist organization, SWS has a special responsibility not to follow this pattern. Many of our members are people who have experienced some type of harassment themselves. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to act in accordance with our principles of transforming academia through feminist leadership and promoting social justice through activism. Given that women and non-binary people of all backgrounds are disproportionately likely to be harassed due to their subordinate position in society, there is no question that this is a feminist issue. Standing against harassment is not just a timely issue, it is a key opportunity to stand for our principles and to put action behind our beliefs.

SWS has some resources in place already to support survivors: the Discrimination and Academic Justice Committee, mentoring program, and Natalie Allon fund are all examples. But there’s still more we can do to model how an organization can take harassment seriously and operate in a way that respects survivors and recognizes the pervasiveness of this issue. In the coming weeks and months, we will be developing a working group to look into ways that we as an organization can strengthen and improve the measures we already have in place, as well as consider new ones that could also be beneficial. SWS has an opportunity here to model ways that organizations can establish measures that are fair, deliberate, transparent, and equitable. These measures need not compromise our ideals, mission, or values. And perhaps most importantly, they should not re-victimize those who have survived harassment. Together, we have an opportunity to seize the moment and show how feminist leadership and organizations can create necessary and positive change.

Message from SWS President, Adia Harvey Wingfield on the Issue of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Within the Discipline of Sociology

Dear SWS Members:

As many of you know, our discipline is having a public reckoning with the issue of sexual harassment and abuse. As the #MeToo movement has shown (and as many of us already know), no industries are immune from the problem of those in power abusing it to harass those in subordinate positions. This issue within the field of sociology is not a new one and there have been conversations about this for years. In fact, SWS was initially founded because of the lack of support for women and nonbinary people in ASA. It seems old issues die hard. 

I’m writing this note to remind everyone that SWS has resources in place to support survivors of all forms of sexual violence including sexual harassment. These resources are available to all members—faculty, students, applied sociologists, and retirees. The Discrimination and Academic Justice Committee will take confidential reports of harassment, gather information, and in some cases can offer written statements of support that can go to department chairs, deans, provosts, presidents, or other supervisors. If you are or have experienced harassment in academia, I’d encourage you to contact one of the Discrimination and Academic Justice Committee Chairs (Katie Acosta at: kacosta@gsu.edu or Shweta Adur at: sadur@calstatela.edu) to let them know your situation and see how they can help. You could also call our Executive Officer, Barret Katuna at: 860-989-5651, if you do not want anything documented in an email; Barret can arrange for calls with Shweta and Katie. 

Another option is the SWS Mentoring Program. Danielle Currier (contact her at: daniellemcurrier@gmail.comcoordinates this and takes care to match mentees with mentors who are willing to provide help in whatever areas mentees need. If you’re dealing with sexual harassment or abuse within the academy, this service may be of help. You can request a mentor who can help you to think through your options and consider what course of action works best for you. 

A third resource is financial support from SWS. This is also available through our Discrimination and Academic Justice Committee. The SWS Natalie Allon Fund was established specifically to provide legal fees for SWS members who are protecting their rights by fighting discrimination cases based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual orientation. It also provides legal fees for cases of discrimination that disproportionately affect women. 

Finally, some of our members are also serving on the working group for the ASA to develop suggestions, best practices, and new guidelines to help stop harassment at meetings. The working group is still convening, but hopefully their suggestions will change some of the meeting norms and practices that allow harassment to occur, and help establish a reporting policy that is structured to meet survivors’ needs. Please consult the Summer Meeting program for more details.    

I expect we will have further discussion of this issue and its ramifications at the Summer Meeting later this week in Philadelphia. One item on Council’s agenda is to discuss various standing policies (or the lack thereof) that pertain to this issue. If you’ll be at the Summer Meeting, please feel free to share with me your thoughts, feedback, and insights about how SWS can best marshal our resources to address this problem. If you will not be at the meeting, please feel free to contact me directly with your thoughts, or to reach out to any Council Members with them. You can have a Council Member communicate your thoughts anonymously or with your name attached—whatever suits you best. If you would like to be connected with a Council Member via phone, please email Barret and she can arrange for a call. 

If you know of someone who is dealing with an issue of past or current sexual harassment and abuse and that person is not an SWS member, please let them know that SWS is here as a resource. This issue is bigger than our membership, but we can take this opportunity to lead and partner with other organizations like the ASA to establish necessary change.   

Thanks everyone,
Adia Harvey Wingfield
SWS President
Email: ahwingfield@wustl.edu

Carole Joffe’s Washington Post Piece on the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh

With the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade is likely dead

How post-Roe America will look different from pre-Roe America

Click Here to Access the Article

July 10, 2018
Carole Joffe is a professor in the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program at the University of California, San Francisco and author of “Dispatches from the Abortion Wars.” Carole Joffe is a member of SWS.

 

SWS Partners with the March for Science

In July 2018, SWS Council voted to partner with the March for Science. The American Sociological Association and many other organizations have partnered with the March for Science.

Please visit: www.marchforscience.com for more information.

For a list of all the partners, please visit this link:

https://www.marchforscience.com/partners

SWS will soon be listed as a partner.

The March for Science movement advocates the importance of making sure that science remains a part of political conversations. It is an ongoing movement. There is a summit this July 6-8, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Please click here for more information on the summit.

Call for Nominations FEMINIST ACTIVISM AWARD

Sociologists for Women in Society Application Date: April 30, 2018

Nominate an SWSer whose feminist activism work has inspired you and/or others. The nomination process is simple, requiring a letter that substantiates the nominee’s engagement in and contributions to society via feminist activism. (An example of a former nomination letter can be obtained from the SWS Executive Office.) Deadline: April 30, 2018 Committee Chair: Patricia Yancey Martin (pmartin@fsu.edu) History and Overview The SWS Feminist Activism Award, established in 1995, is presented annually to an SWS member who has notably and consistently used sociology to improve conditions for women in society. The award honors outstanding feminist advocacy efforts that embody the goal of service to women and that have identifiably improved women’s lives. The 2018 award winner will be asked to present a lecture at an SWS meeting (summer if it can be arranged) and on one U.S. campus during the 2019-2020 academic year to share her/his expertise and experiences (lectures, workshops, or training sessions) of feminist activism. SWS will fund the campus visit (within specified limits) and the host campus will provide housing and meals. (Application guidelines for campus visits are announced in a separate call.)

Criteria for Selection

 Evidence of the nominee’s contributions to feminist activism as an SWS member who has consistently used sociology to better the lives of women.

 Recipients can include volunteers, non-volunteers, academicians, and private/public sector employees.

 The focus of the award is on feminist advocacy and outreach. NominationProcedures

 A nomination letter that provides an accounting of the nominee’s activist contributions and their impact (others may sign as well, in support of the case made by the official letter)

 Links to websites or other documentation that describe(s) and illustrate(s) the nominee’s activist work and its impact (testimonials from those benefiting from or witnessing the activism can participate)

 The nominee’s curriculum vitae or resume

 Multiple nominators are invited to sign the letter written by the primary nominator

 The candidate’s CV and nomination letter should be submitted as a pdf attachment to Patricia Yancey Martin (pmartin@fsu.edu)

 Receipt of nomination packages will be acknowledged via email

 Nominator/s of winner and the winner will be notified via email and on official letterhead from the SWS Executive Office; nominator(s) of non-winners will be notified via email

 Nominations are kept current for three years, after which they are put aside until a new request is made by the nominator. Nominators are responsible for keeping records current. The nominator must contact the Feminist Activism Award Committee chair annually to make sure the file is under consideration. Benefitsof Award  Plaque (awarded at summer awards banquet)

 $1000 honorarium after completion of SWS and campus lectures

 Summer meeting registration and banquet ticket to receive award publicly

 Up to $500 travel expenses for the summer meeting at which the awardee presents a lecture Obligations ofAward Winner

 Attendance at Summer Awards Banquet (to receive award)

 One campus visit during the academic year following the year during which the award is presented [e.g., the 2018 winner will complete one campus visit in the 2019-2020 academic year]

 Present lecture at an SWS Summer Meeting following the year in which award is presented (e.g., 2018 winner will present a lecture at summer 2019 meeting)

 Serve on Awards committee for 2 years (e.g., the 2018 winner will participate in the selection of the 2019 and 2020 winners) An awardee is asked to indicate in writing that s/he is aware of the Award’s obligations and intends to fulfill them. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Pat Martin (pmartin@fsu.edu) who will assist you