Twitter responses show sexual harassment is rife at academic conferences

Female academics on Twitter have exposed the shocking abuse they endured at academic meet-ups, observes Sara Custer 

May 21, 2019
sexual harassment

Hundreds of academics on Twitter responded to a light-hearted call to share their anecdotes of the worst academic conference behaviour they have ever witnessed.

But what emerged in the responses was a disturbing collection of experiences of harassment and sexual assault that female academics have endured at these events. The responses are further evidence of the gender inequality that exists in academia and how, often, it can affect women’s confidence about attending future academic conferences, no doubt limiting their opportunities to present research and meet influential academics in their fields. Worse though, it can manifest as abuse that harms women for a lifetime. 

Below is just a small sample of the posts by female academics, at every phase of their career and from all over the world. 

A number of responses, mostly from male academics, reported speakers going over time limits or other delegates thinking they were too important to be sitting at the same dinner table as them.

In the context of the women’s horrific experiences, however, these anecdotes are trivial. They also reveal a clear lack of awareness of the abuse that women face at these events. This post shows the contrast perfectly:

Sara Custer is digital editor at Times Higher Education 

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Reader's comments (1)

There is also a question around professional conference calls, and sexual misconduct, which may be permisioned in that context. It's not looking particularly pretty. Frankly.