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Rebecca Barnes Part of NSF Grant to Fight Sexual Harassment

Rebecca Barnes, assistant professor in Colorado College's Environmental Program, is one of six co-principal investigators on a four-year, $1.1 million ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation that aims to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.

The project, “From the Classroom to the Field: Improving the Workplace in the Geosciences,” includes a team of earth and space scientists; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education experts; and leaders of geoscience societies.

Barnes, a member of the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) leadership board, will partner with the colleagues from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Brown University; California State University, Los Angeles; and University of California, Merced; the American Geophysical Union; and the Association of Women Geoscientists to develop sexual harassment bystander intervention training for the earth, space, and environmental sciences.

Erika Marín-Spiotta, associate professor of geography at University of Wisconsin, Madison, member of the ESWN leadership board, and the project’s lead principal investigator, says the project was motivated by the overall lack of representation of women in STEM programs and the increasing recognition of the hostile environment many women face in their studies and jobs.

“Many schools, including CC, do not have mandatory training for faculty around these issues,” says Barnes. “Our hope is that by developing these training modules we can start to change a culture that creates unfriendly and even unsafe work environments for women and people of color. Not only is the status quo unfair, but research has shown that a more diverse workforce is better at solving problems.”

A primary goal of the project is to improve work climate conditions and increase gender equity in the geosciences by developing bystander intervention workshops that enable scientists in positions of authority not only to recognize sexual harassment, but also to respond appropriately to prevent and even eliminate the behavior within their workplaces.

Additional goals include sexual harassment awareness and prevention training in the teaching of ethical conduct in research guidelines; developing and incorporating geoscience-relevant scenarios in training and teaching materials, including field research and educational settings; incorporating experiences of community members with intersectional identities who may face sexual, racial, and gender harassment; and collaborating with professional society partners for national dissemination, implementation, and sustainability.