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Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem on oceanographic research vessels and while conducting fieldwork in general. A variety of factors contribute to inadequate protection against sexual harassment, such as poor training in prevention, support, and response; remoteness of field sites; academic hierarchies that reinforce uneven power dynamics that extend to fieldwork; and multi-institutional teams with distinct policies or reporting structures that can lead to confusion in reporting and responding to incidents in the field. In compromising individuals’ physical and mental health, sexual harassment can negatively affect research expeditions. For example, harassed individuals may decide to refrain from working on complicated team-based tasks, which can be a safety issue. A broader concern is that sexual harassment deters talented people from pursing or maintaining employment in ocean science. Harassment must be treated with the same gravity as research misconduct and safety policy infringements. When planning a research expedition, science team leaders are responsible for the safety of their team and other colleagues aboard and would benefit from resources aimed at helping team leadership create a plan to ensure safety and inclusivity. To address this resource gap, 18 participants in the Workshop to Promote Field Safety in Ocean Sciences, convened by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and held May 17–18, 2022, in Washington, DC, developed a checklist for use by scientific leaders and others to assist in planning for participant safety and to prevent harassment the field. The checklist specifies the timing of, and who is responsible for, specific actions that should be taken to improve safety while conducting fieldwork, whether on a research vessel or on land. It also provides additional resources and suggestions for leaders on how to amend the checklist to address their specific fieldwork situations.


Published in Oceanography by The Oceanography Society. Available via doi: 10.5670/oceanog.2023.112.

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