Advancing Evaluation Metrics for Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response in STEM

A study to develop a comprehensive set of metrics to assess sexual harassment prevention, outreach, and response efficacy in STEM.

Sexual harassment is prevalent in STEM, and it is an established barrier to success for women and racialized minority faculty and graduate students (NASEM, 2018). While there has been a proliferation of sexual harassment prevention programs and formalized procedures implemented across institutions of higher education, it remains difficult to assess the effectiveness of these efforts given the inconsistencies in assessment approaches. When assessments are conducted, they focus more so on proximal changes, such as program attendee knowledge, attitudes and skills; overlooking objective, long-term and comprehensive measures of program effectiveness (e.g., rates of sexual harassment, employee turnover rates, etc.).

Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE grant, NORC will identify current institutional efforts to address, and assess the efficacy of their efforts, sexual harassment within the STEM learning environments. Subsequently, NORC will develop a comprehensive set of metrics for evaluating sexual harassment prevention, outreach, and response effectiveness, across socioecological levels and academic systems. The consistent use of a standardized set of program evaluation metrics will lead to the eventual identification and implementation of the most effective empirically-supported programming.

The project includes four main activities:

  1. Gather qualitative data from key university and STEM stakeholders and Title IX officers on their goals and efforts for addressing sexual harassment in STEM and their approaches toward evaluating these efforts.
  2. Develop and deploy a survey, informed by the qualitative data collection, assessing the goals, approaches, and evaluation of sexual harassment programs across STEM degree-producing institutions.
  3. Host a convening of senior officials in STEM graduate education, Title IX officers, STEM students, and researchers in this field to review and comment on a matrix of metrics for evaluating sexual harassment program effectiveness across various socioecological levels: social-cultural, institutional, departmental, interpersonal, and individual.
  4. Finalize an expert-validated matrix of metrics and disseminate broadly to the STEM academic community.

The study is in progress. NORC will provide results upon its completion.

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