Sexism and sexual harassment in academia need to end
Statement from Martin Tvede Zachariasen, Vice Chancellor at the IT University of Copenhagen.
Today a statement signed by 689 academics at Danish universities and colleges, who personally have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment and/or gender-based abusive behaviour, was published in Politiken. The article also contains examples of gendered abusive behaviour that these academics have experienced.
It makes a huge impression on me that so many employees, mostly women, at Danish universities have experienced sexistic behaviour. This is of course completely unacceptable.
»I would like to thank the brave women who have come forward to break the taboo about sexism in the academic world. The sheer number of signatures and examples clearly show that sexism and sexual harassment indeed exist at the Danish universities.
The sheer number of signatures and examples clearly show that sexism and sexual harassment indeed exist at the Danish universities.
The academic culture requires that we pay extra attention to these challenges. The academic world is characterised by a well-established hierarchy with senior faculty in tenured positions and junior faculty on time-limited contracts – whose career opportunities often depend on long-term interpersonal relations. The formal and informal power relations necessitate the highest behavioural standards of every employee – and in particular those in senior positions.
»The ongoing public debate on sexism has made it evident that harassment policies and protocols for handling concrete incidents is not enough. We all need speak up and act when we experience or witness sexistic behaviour. And we need to improve the working culture.
The ongoing public debate on sexism has made it evident that harassment policies and protocols for handling concrete incidents is not enough. We all need speak up and act when we experience or witness sexistic behaviour.
I believe that a systematic approach and clear management commitment is necessary. At ITU, we have recently decided on an action plan on the advancement of gender diversity. One of the items in the action plan is to work systematically on creating an inclusive workplace. It is important that managers are equipped to spot inappropriate behaviour and react appropriately when it occurs. Later this autumn we will organize a workshop for all managers at ITU on this theme. We will also work toward implementing a so-called Gender Equality Plan at ITU – which includes a strategic effort to improve gender diversity at ITU and to ensure a safe and inclusive working environment for all employees.
Let us work together to create a culture where we all – and especially we that hold positions of power – take responsibility. And take a clear stand against sexism and sexual harassment.
Martin Tvede Zachariasen, Vice Chancellor