Why one academic spends hours a week putting together a spreadsheet of documented harassment cases, names and all

Sep 23, 2018 by

Julie Libarkin is a passionate advocate for women in academe, specifically their right to study and work without being sexually harassed or assaulted. She’s also a scientist who loves data.

So two years ago, before much of the country had heard the words “Me Too” in reference to sexual misconduct, Libarkin began to meticulously collect information on — and, most significantly, the names of — publicly documented harassers.

Her list of more than 700 cases differs from others created in the Me Too era in that it includes only substantiated reports, based on strict criteria, including institutional findings and admissions of misconduct, settlements between institutions and accusers, and legal findings of fact. Cases where the accused resigned or died during an investigation also are included. This is not a “Shitty Media Men” list for academics, though the men (and the significantly smaller share of women) on it have done shitty things.

“This is a lot of work. I spend hours a week on this,” Libarkin said. “But I’m trying to make the hidden visible.”

Still, Libarkin is frustrated by all that remains invisible: it’s well-known that most sexual misconduct goes unreported, and much that does get reported doesn’t make it to the public sphere. So strict are Libarkin’s research parameters, both out of scientific integrity and a fear of possible legal action against her, that she won’t publish cases she learns about from institutional paperwork handed over to her by accusers — at least not without requesting and verifying it herself through open-records channels.

Source: Why one academic spends hours a week putting together a spreadsheet of documented harassment cases, names and all

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