The National Academy of Sciences took a major step today to oust sexual harassers when members at its annual meeting voted to approve a new amendment that would allow the organization to kick out people who badly violate its new code of conduct. This vote isn’t the final verdict, however: the entire membership of the NAS still needs to weigh in — a process that’s expected to be wrapped up by mid-June.
The National Academy of Sciences, or NAS, was founded in 1863, and is one of the three academies that make up the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Together, they conduct massive research analyses and produce reports to help “solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions,” according to their website. One of these, published last year, reported that women in scientific, engineering, and medical fields face rampant sexual harassment in academia.
According to Nature, this amendment is only for the National Academy of Sciences. And it comes almost a year after neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin started an online petition to yank membership from NAS members “who have been sanctioned for sexual harassment, retaliation and assault.”
The new amendment, if it’s finalized, could help the National Academy of Sciences deal with proven sexual harassers in its ranks. There have been multiple, according to Science Magazine. The list includes Geoffrey Marcy at the University of California Berkeley, “who was found to have violated campus sexual harassment policies between 2001 and 2010,” Buzzfeed News revealed in 2015. The amendment would also cover other forms of misconduct outlined in the National Academy of Sciences code, such as falsifying scientific data, plagiarizing, bullying, and discriminating.