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Welcoming Environment Statement

It is the policy of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) that all participants in AWM activities will enjoy a welcoming, inclusive environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As a professional organization, the AWM is committed to fostering an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. In pursuit of that ideal, the AWM is committed to the promotion of equality of opportunity and treatment for all AWM members and participants in AWM-sponsored events, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, sexual orientation, immigration status, disabilities, veteran status, or any other reason not related to scientific merit.  Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of AWM activities. Below we include some examples that constitute harassment, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

 

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is strictly prohibited at all events affiliated with AWM. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Fact Sheet on Sexual Harassment, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” A similar description applies to schools at all levels under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Professional meetings and conferences are considered to be an extension of work and school environments. Behavior or language that is welcome/acceptable to one person may be unwelcome/offensive to another. Consequently, individuals must use discretion to ensure that their words and actions communicate respect for others. This is especially important for those in positions of authority since individuals with lower rank or status may be reluctant to express their objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior.

 

Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional comments of a socially acceptable nature. It refers to behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, debilitates morale, and therefore, interferes with work effectiveness. The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment: sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; inappropriate invitations to or uninvited entrances to conference lodgings, verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; unnecessary touching.

 

Other Types of Harassment

Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited at all events affiliated with AWM. This conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation of written or graphic material (for example, in conference talks or sessions) that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group.

 

Scope of Policy

This policy applies to all attendees at AWM activities, including mathematicians, students, guests, staff, contractors, and exhibitors, participating in the scientific sessions and social events of any AWM meeting, any AWM student chapter event, or any other AWM sponsored activity.

 

What to do if you experience sexual harassment

If you believe you are the victim of harassment, write everything down (times, places, nature of the incident, witnesses, and comments made) as soon as possible. Save e-mails, notes, and other potential evidence. Tell someone you trust about the incident. Be as detailed as possible. 

 

If you experience harassment or are aware of harassment incidents at an AWM event, you are welcome to reach out to AWM organizers of the event and/or other AWM members for advice on how to proceed. AWM members can help guide you to an appropriate venue for filing a complaint. You are not expected to discuss details of the harassment, but if you choose to do so, the AWM members you speak to will keep this information confidential to the extent that is legally possible. 

 

Filing a complaint

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and is legally prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in schools. Workplaces and educational institutions are legally required to have non-discrimination policies. The sexual harassment complaint process differs from institution to institution. Check the website of your workplace/school and of the workplace/school of the alleged harasser to find these procedures. 

 

Although AWM does not have a formal complaint process, some other professional societies do.  For situations arising at AWM events cosponsored by other societies, you can find information on how to file a complaint by visiting the website of these organizations.  (Links to other societies’ policies with information about complaint processes can also be found on the AWM’s resource page under the section entitled “Policies Adopted by Other Professional Societies.”)

 

Complaints can also be filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and under state Fair Employment Practice statutes. If the harassment crosses over the line into the criminal realm (e.g., sexual assault and rape), you should report the incident(s) to the police.

 

Resources

The AWM Policy and Advocacy Committee has compiled resources on sexual harassment and other forms of harassment.  These are available at Further Resources, on the website of the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics.