WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) today sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to request a report on sexual harassment by federally funded researchers, specifically looking at NIH, NSF, USDA, DOE and NASA. This letter is a continuation of the committee’s investigation opened in October into allegations of sexual harassment within the scientific community.

In the letter, Smith and Johnson specifically ask for information on Title IX compliance programs at federal grant-making agencies and agency policies and processes related to sexual harassment that may fall outside of Title IX requirements. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 put a system in place designed to ensure that institutions receiving federal funding provide all students, regardless of sex, equal access to educational programs and activities.

The letter reads in part:

Sexual harassment has a significant negative impact on the ability of female students and early career researchers to engage in research at the same level as their male peers. By withdrawing from research to escape harassment or being actively sidelined and discriminated against as a form of retaliation for refusing unwanted sexual advances, female students can be prevented from pursuing the experiences they need to develop into independent researchers. Often, this results in talented women struggling to compete and complete their academic careers, ultimately deciding to leave science altogether. Equitable access to education and research experiences cannot be ensured for women in the sciences until gender discrimination, implicit bias, and sexual harassment are no longer potential barriers to their success.

The letter can be found here.