It has come to our attention that a report resulting from an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment involving Professor Terry Speed, a leader in statistics and bioinformatics in Australia, has been submitted to the leadership of The University of California Berkley.
Our unequivocal support and solidarity is firmly behind the woman who raised this complaint. There is no place for sexual harassment in the workplace and professional settings under any circumstances, and we do not condone any behaviour where an individual feels threatened, discriminated against or victimised. It is critical that anyone raising a complaint of sexual harassment is heard, respected and taken very seriously, and that their claim is actioned immediately with a clear transparent process followed.
We know the incidence of sexual harassment within the global STEMM* sector is far greater than statistics indicate. STEMM organisations must ensure they have a culture of safety, trust and respect, as well as best practice infrastructure and processes to address these very serious human rights breaches. Transparency and respect must underpin each of these processes.
The #MeToo movement has been an important and necessary change-agent, empowering people who have experienced sexual harassment and assault. Each of us must take a proactive role to educate ourselves, our colleagues, our families and friends on what constitutes harassment and call on our organisations to use this moment as a platform for positive action and cultural change. There must be zero tolerance of this behaviour to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for all.
Women in STEMM Australia advocates positive change. Change requires support, education, accountability, transparency and consequences, as well as immediate rehabilitation of harmful behaviours. The voices of victims and perpetrators play important roles in bringing about change and educating all people. To be able to call out this behaviour requires a system of trust, respect and equal access to justice, and it is here we believe we can make the greatest impact to the change agenda.
Women in STEMM Australia advocates the STEMM sector upholds, implements and creates systems within organisations and communities that ensure all parties have access to justice in the face of bullying, harassment, discrimination and inequality. We want systems and frameworks within organisations that protect the rights of individuals, provide support and care for victims, educate and inform, as well as independently address the issues raised in a rapid and fair manner with transparency, ownership and administration of appropriate and fair consequences. We work in partnership with other national organisations toward these goals.
Professor Speed is a recognised supporter of gender equality and equity in STEMM initiatives in Australia, including through Women in STEMM Australia. Our volunteer Board of Directors at Women in STEMM Australia was deeply disappointed to learn of this particular investigation in recent weeks. We understand the investigation has concluded but remains in deliberation with the leadership of UC Berkley. As scientists, we respect that evidence was collected and analysed during this investigation, and we hope for a swift resolution for all involved.
Transparency fosters trust and an environment where people feel safe and empowered to come forward when something happens. It is vital any complaint is acted on with urgency and integrity and that organisational processes for raising such issues are consistent, transparent and ultimately, trusted.
As people advocating for gender equality and greater diversity in STEMM leadership in Australia, we recognise there will be more instances where we know or work with an individual involved – whether they be a victim or a perpetrator.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of unwanted sexual attention, harassment, assault, or discrimination in your organisation, we urge you to seek help and advice, and reach out for support. If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to your human resources department or your gender equity and diversity committee for help and advice.
If this has raised immediate concerns for you, please reach out to:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
- Headspace 1800 650 890
Acknowledgement: This statement represents the united voice of our organisation and our Board of Directors collectively authored and approved this statement.
Media enquiries: Michelle Gallaher, co-founder, Women in STEMM Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
*STEMM = science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (including health and medical research)