[Note: This item comes from friend Bob Frankston. DLH]
This makes me think of my mother who never finished her degree in Geology (though she did work at Hunter College and did some teaching). In the 1930’s she was at Columbia pursuing a PhD and was to research the copper resources in the (then) Belgian Congo. It’s understandable why she did not jump at the opportunity but she didn’t feel she was in a position to protest and find an alternative. (So the doctorate had to wait two generations until my son finished his).
Science’s Sexual Assault Problem
By A. HOPE JAHREN
Sep 18 2014
I AM a scientist who studies plants. I like plants. I think about plants almost every hour of the day, and several hours of the night as well. I respect plants and I know there’s more to them than meets the eye, because I’ve been measuring their responses for 20 years. But it is rocks that were my first love and that continue to hold my heart captive. I love rocks with the unconditional love that you lavish upon a newborn baby.
I was a promising graduate student. I landed a position as a professor before I even started to write my dissertation. While I prepared to start my new job, I decided that I would begin by studying the brine that bleeds sideways within the rocks that underlie the inner Aegean region of Turkey. I dreamed of an ocean of hot water underneath Denizli Province, an ocean that occasionally sloshes out onto the surface to form ice-blue thermal springs. I had seen photographs, but I wanted to be there, to take samples and make measurements, to make it “my” field site. I was trying to find an intellectual home.
I was careful to do everything right. I started out modestly and cautiously, in the summer of 1996, with simple reconnaissance. I booked a spot within a chaperoned group tour and stayed in prearranged hotel rooms and ate bland meals with the 10 or so elderly Australian tourists who were my travel companions. We rode in an air-conditioned bus for days while I stared out the window and scribbled notes about the roads and cataloged photos of the landscape. I covered my head with a scarf and averted my eyes toward the sidewalk.
And then, one day in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya, instead of going to the marketplace with the group, I sat in a cafe to study some maps. It was broad daylight when I began walking back to the hotel, and a stranger pulled me into a stairwell — and then did some other things. Perhaps an hour later I staggered out with his blood under my fingernails. I cannot describe what happened in a way you will understand, because I still do not understand it myself. I have been trying to understand it for almost 20 years.
My story is not unique. In July, Kathryn B. H. Clancy and her co-authors Robin G. Nelson, Julienne N. Rutherford and Katie Hinde published a survey of 666 field-based scientists in the journal PLoS One and reported that 26 percent of the female scientists surveyed had been sexually assaulted during fieldwork. Most of these women encountered this abuse very early in their careers, as trainees. The travel inherent to scientific fieldwork increases vulnerability as one struggles to work within unfamiliar and unpredictable conditions, but male respondents reported significantly less assault (6 percent).