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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

A new study finds that not only is discrimination widespread in astronomy and planetary sciences (88% of respondents said they've seen or experienced racial or sexual harassment in the last five years), women of color are much more likely to face it.

  • In a survey of 424 scientists, 40% of women of color said they felt unsafe in the workplace because of their sex, compared to just over a quarter of white women surveyed.
  • 13% of all women said they had skipped a professional event, like a meeting or a class, because of harassment.

Kathryn Clancy, an anthropologist and author of the study, says it's clear that women of color are more vulnerable to workplace harassment than white women. "Women of color have been telling us this for decades," she says, "I think it's time we decide to start listening."

Why it matters: Not only is there a constant emotional labor that comes from feeling unsafe at work, Clancy notes that harassment drives people out of science. In a field like planetary science and astronomy, where women are already a minority, this can have a huge impact on the literature produced. Racism and sexism have a trickle-down effect: White men are cited more often, more likely to get published, get better letters of recommendation and are more likely to get grants.

"There's research, grounded in evidence, that shows that when we use categories like race and gender rather than expertise to evaluate someone's worthiness, we do science a disservice. We miss out on brilliant minds doing brilliant things," says Clancy.

Recent high-profile sexual harassment cases have made one thing clear: the structure of academia can make reporting harassment very difficult. Graduate students' and post-docs' futures are often tied to the success of their labs. Their ability to get jobs, or pass their dissertation, relies on the whims of their lab leaders and their review committees. Students report they're concerned that complaints will be ignored, swept under the table or even retaliated against.

Go deeper

Updated 52 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.

7 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.