by KARA MANKE
Many young scientists dream of their first trip to a remote research site — who wouldn’t want to hang out with chimps like Jane Goodall, or sail to the Galapagos like Charles Darwin, exploring the world and advancing science?
But for many scientists, field research can endanger their health and safety.
In a survey of scientists engaged in field research, the majority — 64 percent — said they had personally experienced sexual harassment while at a field site, and 22 percent reported being the victim of sexual assault.
Most of the people reporting harassment or assault were women, and the vast majority were still students or postdocs.
And for female victims, the perpetrator was more likely to be a superior, not a peer. “This is happening to them when they are trainees, when they are most vulnerable within the academic hierarchy,” says evolutionary biologist Katie Hinde, an author on the study published Wednesday in PLOS ONE. Hinde and her colleagues say this could be a factor in the large number of women who enter scientific fields but don’t continue.