We would like to see more willingness to act on the part of the leadership.
On 23 March, the causes, behaviors, and consequences of sexual harassment will be the topic of discussion. For this occasion, a wide range of committed individuals and groups will have their say. Speakers such as Seraphine Zang and Valentina Gasser.
Seraphine is a chemist and is doing her doctorate at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry on the topic of methane coupling for the upgrading of natural gas. Valentina is a chemist and is doing her doctorate at the Institute of Organic Chemistry on the topic of homogeneous catalysis with earth-rich transition metals.
For Seraphine and Valentina, it’s clear that women's associations at ETH have been calling for a long time to change the procedure in cases of sexual harassment. It’s also the time in their opinion, that prevention becomes a duty instead of a polite option. According to Seraphine and Valentina, a successful and urgent change in the system includes transparent surveys and statistics that reflect the real situation instead of sweeping it under the table.
What is "The Society For Women In Natural Sciences at ETH Zurich" (WiNS) and what do we stand for?
Seraphine and Valentina: "We are the women's organisation at the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Material Sciences at ETH Zurich. We have joined forces because we share the same values and pursue the same goals of enabling equal opportunities for all at all academic levels at the departmental and institute level. We welcome all those who support our mission for an inclusive and diverse environment at ETH."
Why are we involved in Sexual Harassment Awareness Day 2023?
Seraphine and Valentina: "An eventorganised by 500WS Zürich Pod, where female PhD students shared their experiences of discrimination in the workplace, showed us how much action is still needed at ETH regarding sexual harassment and microaggressions. Other universities are further ahead of ETH on these issues, as these references to MITor the University of Michigan show, for example. From this, it is clear that these changes have been catalysed by a bottom-up movement. We have joined with other women's organisations and written an open letter to the ETH Board to seek conversation. Unfortunately, the ETH Board's willingness to act is limited."
What are our concrete demands? What has to change?
Seraphine and Valentina: "In our open letter to the ETH management, we demand 1) a code of conduct that lists concrete possibilities for action and sanctions against perpetrators in case of disregard, 2) the possibility to anonymously report experiences of sexual harassment and other unethical acts, and 3) transparent surveys and statistics on the topic.
What do we wish for future campaign days?
Sexual harassment, unconscious bias and microaggressions concern women and underrepresented groups in the workplace more than the disproportionately represented majority. These offences can be counted as factors in many women and other minorities in the sciences dropping out at the higher academic levels. It is urgent that a link between sexual harassment as well as abuse of power and the leaky pipeline in male-dominated subjects be analysed. To enable equal opportunities, one must first be aware of the barriers experienced by women and other underrepresented groups in male-dominated sectors. While ETH is content with improving the quota of women at the whole university level, parity hiring at our departments, e.g. D-CHAB lags behind. Here, two institutes (out of five at D-CHAB) have no female professors even now in 2023.