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NSF Policy to Combat Sexual Harassment in Science

The US National Science Foundation is to require institutions to report when researchers funded by the agency have been found to have committed sexual harassment.

In a notice, NSF says principal investigators and co-PIs are in "positions of trust," and they and other grant personnel "must comport themselves in a responsible and accountable manner." It adds that any finding of harassment could lead to the removal and replacement of personnel or to the suspension or termination of the award.

"We're doing this to show in a defined way that NSF doesn't tolerate sexual harassment or any form of harassment at grantee institutions or field sites or anywhere science is done," NSF Director France Córdova said during a press conference, according to ScienceInsider.

The agency previously relied on declarations from funded institutions that they were in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender discrimination in federally funded programs, Insider Higher Education adds.

IHE notes that the new policy also requires grantee institutions to establish standards of behavior and procedures for reporting infractions. The policy says this is "to ensure harassment-free workplaces wherever science is conducted."

"There's nothing like tying grant dollars to ethical behavior," Yale University's Meg Urry tells ScienceInsider. "That will be a tremendous incentive for people to get this right."