NSB Statement

Statement on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in U.S. Antarctic Program

October 3, 2022

The Members of the National Science Board (NSB) are appalled by the reports of sexual harassment, assaults, and stalking described in the recent NSF Office of Polar Programs U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) Sexual Assault / Harassment Prevention Response (SAHPR) report. Such actions devastate and often irreparably affect victims as well as bystanders, create hostile and unsafe environments, impede access to educational and professional opportunities, undermine efforts to recruit and retain diverse STEM talent, and corrode the research enterprise. We stand with all victims and condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.

The Board will not tolerate hostile and unsafe STEM work environments. We are, in partnership with the NSF Director, committed to addressing this immediately, forcefully, and transparently, and to ensuring that the USAP is open to all without fear of any forms of harassment or assault.  We are committed to ensuring a system of accountability and we will monitor the results of these short- and long-term efforts closely in the months and years to come.  

The NSB and the NSF Director have jointly identified immediate steps the Foundation is taking to ensure all USAP participants are safe and can work without fear of harassment of any form.  Our immediate priority is to increase the safety of personnel at all Antarctic sites for the 2022 / 2023 season. These steps include, but are not limited to:

  • A single, confidential point of contact and rapid response for any and all concerns related to assault and harassment, whether the concerned individual is an NSF-funded visiting researcher, a contractor, member of the U.S. military, or resident of another country
  • Expanded on-ice victim-centered support services, independent of specific contracts or awards
  • Town halls and listening sessions at all Antarctic facilities, hosted by NSF executives and NSB leaders
  • Enhanced physical security measures including, but not limited to, those suggested in the SAHPR report

Our second priority is to help NSF, along with other federal agencies and private sector partners, to strengthen policies, communication, training, and oversight to ensure continued and enhanced safety measures are in place by the 2023-2024 season and beyond.  Finally, as the governing board of NSF and as stewards of the United States science and engineering enterprise, the NSB commits to addressing sexual harassment and other acts of harassment (racial, ethnic, etc.) and sexual misconduct in all NSF-funded research and education environments, irrespective of location.

 

Additional Resources

U.S. Antarctic Program Develops Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention and Response Program

Results from the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Sexual Assault and Harassment Needs Assessment

Final Report: Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention and Response

NSF Director Statement on USAP SAHPR Report

NSF Actions in Response to Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention Issues in the USAP

 

About the National Science Board

The NSF consists of the National Science Board and NSF Director. Jointly, the Board and the Director pursue the goals and mission of the agency. The Board identifies issues critical to NSF's future and establishes the agency’s policies within the framework of applicable national policies. The Board also serves as an independent advisory body to Congress and the Administration on policy issues in science and engineering (S&E) and education in S&E. The President appoints NSB’s 24 members—selected for their S&E expertise in research and education—for a six-year term. 

Media Contact: Nadine Lymn, National Science Board, (703) 292-2490, nlymn@nsf.gov


The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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