Reporting misconduct

Feminists say that sexual harassment in academia is underreported, but do we know it is?

I do not know if rigorous research on this issue has been done, but Nature reports today on scientific research integrity and some of the lessons revealed suggest something we feminists have long know:  whistle-blowers can have a very tough time.  Scientific misconduct and sexual harrassment are very different, but the report suggests academic cultures do not encourage the reporting of bad news and they can fail miserably in self-regulation. 

First of all, the conclusion:

Nearly one generation after the effort to reduce misconduct in science began, the responses by NIH scientists suggests [sic] that falsified and fabricated research records, publications, dissertations and grant applications are much more prevalent than has been suspected to date. Our study calls into question the effectiveness of self-regulation. We hope it will lead individuals and institutions to evaluate their commitment to research integrity.

And one of the researchers’ recommendation described against a background of concealment:

Protect whistleblowers

Careful attention must be paid to the creation and dissemination of measures to protect whistleblowers. Responders to our survey said that reporting would be most likely to improve if institutions and the federal government increased the whistleblower protection. Indeed, more than two-thirds of whistleblowers, in a Research Triangle Institute study, experienced at least one negative outcome as a direct result of their actions. Plus, 43% reported that institutions encouraged them to drop the allegation.

The article is fully available online.


Susan Faludi has got an interesting article out (thanks, Sally!) arguing that Obama is being slurred as excessively feminine.  And, well, hmm, Buzzflash (a left-wing organisation that loves Obama) now has the above fridge magnet for sale.  From them, of course, it’s not a slur.  But it could still be a mistake.  Just in case you don’t know what it’s referencing, it’s this:


Anyway, looks like Faludi is right.  The gender politics portion of this election is SO not over. (As if it ever is.)