This week, the journal Nature published a list of “ten people who made a difference” to the world of science in 2013. Among people from very different scientific fields, astronomy to climate science, is one biological anthropologist: Kathryn Clancy, from the University of Illinois.
She has been recognized for her work bringing to light abuses of students at field sites, as described in the profile by Alexandra Witze:
She began in January 2012, by posting stories from her friend and others, anonymized, on her Scientific American blog. But she soon realized that anecdotes weren’t enough. So she joined forces with three colleagues — Katie Hinde of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Robin Nelson of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Julienne Rutherford of the University of Illinois at Chicago — to put out a call for data. They asked biological anthropologists to share their stories of field experiences through a web-based survey.
In April this year, Clancy’s team dropped a bombshell. During an ethics symposium at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Knoxville, Tennessee, the team announced that 59% of the 124 survey participants reported experiencing inappropriate sexual comments, and 18% reported physical harassment or assault in the field.
As I reflected at the time last spring, Clancy’s presentation at the AAPA meeting may have been the most important I’ve seen: “AAPA hears about ongoing abuse of students at field sites”. You can still read that presentation online, and follow Clancy’s blog, “Context and Variation”. The manuscript describing the research by Clancy, Hinde, Nelson and Smith is in preparation.