It is the policy of the EDGE Foundation (EDGE) that all participants in EDGE activities will enjoy a welcoming, inclusive environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. EDGE is committed to fostering an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. In pursuit of that ideal, EDGE is committed to the promotion of equality of opportunity and treatment for all EDGE participants and participants in EDGE events, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, sexual orientation, immigration status, disabilities, veteran status, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of EDGE activities. Below we include some examples that constitute harassment, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Acknowledgement: The anti-harassment policy adopted by the Association for Women in Mathematics was particularly helpful in the creation of this document.
Types of Harassment
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is strictly prohibited at all events affiliated with EDGE. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Fact Sheet on Sexual Harassment, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” A similar description applies to schools at all levels under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Summer programs, professional meetings and conferences are considered to be an extension of work and school environments. Behavior or language that is welcome/acceptable to one person may be unwelcome/offensive to another. Consequently, individuals must use discretion to ensure that their words and actions communicate respect for others. This is especially important for those in positions of authority since individuals with lower rank or status may be reluctant to express their objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior.
Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional comments of a socially acceptable nature. It refers to behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, debilitates morale, and therefore, interferes with work effectiveness. The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment: sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; inappropriate invitations to or uninvited entrances to conference lodgings, verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; unnecessary touching.
Other Types of Harassment
Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited at all events affiliated with EDGE. This conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation of written or graphic material (for example, in conference talks or sessions) that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group.
What To Do If You Experience Sexual Harassment
If you are the victim of harassment, write everything down (times, places, nature of the incident, witnesses, and comments made) as soon as possible. Save e-mails, notes, and other potential evidence. Tell someone you trust about the incident. Be as detailed as possible.
If you experience harassment or are aware of harassment incidents at an EDGE event, you are welcome to reach out to EDGE Co-Directors for advice on how to proceed. They can help guide you to an appropriate venue for filing a complaint. You are not expected to discuss details of the harassment, but if you choose to do so, the EDGE Co-Directors you speak to will keep this information confidential to the extent that is legally possible.
Filing a Complaint
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and is legally prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in schools. Workplaces and educational institutions are legally required to have non-discrimination policies. The sexual harassment complaint process differs from institution to institution. Check the policies of the institution in question for information on filing a complaint.
Although EDGE does not have a formal complaint process, some mathematical professional societies do. For situations arising at EDGE events cosponsored by other societies, you can find information on how to file a complaint by visiting the website of these organizations.
Complaints can also be filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and under state Fair Employment Practice statutes. If the harassment crosses over the line into the criminal realm (e.g., sexual assault and rape), you should report the incident(s) to the police.