Sexual harassment and assault are pervasive across all workplaces. Fieldwork is a particular kind of workplace that builds a foundation for a successful career in many academic disciplines. Fieldwork is often geographically remote and separate from home institutions, and is often characterized by hierarchical access and control over career-making resources.
Julienne Rutherford is an associate professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rutherford and her colleagues conducted the first study to examine this academic workplace to find out who is targeted in the field and who the perpetrators are. The researchers then followed up to explore the nature of the experience of harassment at work and the implications for career trajectories.
Quote from Professor Rutherford
"Experiencing harassment and assault, especially by someone with power over the respondent, led to women being severely hampered in finishing their studies or advancing in their careers (e.g. due to psychosocial trauma, withholding of data and other resources, and combination thereof), with some people leaving the discipline altogether.
"Together, our findings suggest there needs to be a commitment to consequences and safe reporting pathways for targets, so that perpetrators are held responsible for their actions. This can be achieved most effectively by people with institutional power role modeling safe and equitable community values. People with the power to perpetrate have the power to change the culture."