American Sociological Association

ASA’s Working Group on Harassment Takes First Steps

ASA’s Working Group on Harassment has been hard at work in recent months. Members include Chair Kathrin Zippel, Northeastern University; Frank Dobbin, Harvard University; C. Shawn McGuffey, Boston College; C.J. Pascoe, University of Oregon; Mary Texeira, California State University-San Bernardino; and Justine Tinkler, University of Georgia.

The Working Group is writing a series of articles for Footnotes, and in the coming issue you will find the first two pieces, “Can Anti-Harassment Programs Reduce Sexual Harassment?” by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev and “#MeToo and the ASA Working Group on Harassment” by C. Shawn McGuffey. Look for more in subsequent issues.

Three complementary workshops are planned for the 2018 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia that have been organized by and with members of the Working Group. These include: “Bystander Intervention for Combating Sexual Misconduct in Sociology: Everyone Can Be Part of the Solution” (co-sponsored with Sociologists for Women in Society and expected to be available in summary form via video), “Sexual Harassment in Professional Associations,” and “#MeTooPhD: Addressing Sexual Violence in and through Sociology.”

At the request of Council, the Working Group wrote an Anti-Harassment Policy which we began using in 2017. We have integrated it into the 2018 meeting registration process such that all meeting attendees must agree to follow the policy. The policy will be displayed prominently on site. 

The Working Group also suggests that each section discuss the issue of whether there would be better ways to organize social activities at the Annual Meeting to reduce the potential for harassment.

Council and the Working Group are also in active conversation about ensuring that we have the most effective reporting and sanctioning procedures in place. Our Executive Director and other senior staff members are going to be formally trained to respond to harassment complaints before August. At present, there is an ethical standard on harassment in the ASA Code of Ethics, and there is consideration of whether a complementary, more nimble process might be warranted for the Annual Meeting context. We are in discussion with other scholarly societies to learn from their approaches, and Council will continue this discussion at its next meeting.