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Among astronomers, some 28% of women of color reported feeling unsafe in their workplace due to their race, and about 40% reported feeling unsafe because of their gender. Women of color face more harassment than any other group, according to a new study published on Monday.

The online survey of 474 astronomers and planetary scientists found that 28% of the women of color who responded reported feeling unsafe in their workplace due to their race, and that about 40% reported feeling unsafe because of their gender. Women of color were also more likely than men to experience verbal harassment related to their race.

Eighteen percent of women of color — as well as 12% of white women — said they’d skipped at least one class, meeting, fieldwork opportunity, or professional event because they were worried about their safety. Although the number of white women faculty members has increased across science fields, the number of women of color has decreased.

The study also outlined several remedies in addressing the problem, including creating a code of conduct, diversity and cultural awareness training, and hiring many more women of color.

Kathryn Clancy, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois and lead author of the paper, says”You can’t keep putting women of color in the position of being an only, or being in such low numbers that they’re tokenized.”

Clancy also stressed that while professional societies could do a lot to foster culture change and make demands on their memberships, universities need to have swifter consequences for discrimination, and make it easier for victims to discuss these issues both formally and informally.

 

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