Monday, April 8, 2019

Discrimination Is Not For Anyone

 Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III
Professor and Chair for the Department of Public 
and Nonprofit Administration, School of Management
University of San Francisco

Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III is a tenured Full Professor & Department Chair for the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration, School of Management, University of San Francisco. He is also Director of the Business Minor in the School of Management as well. Dr. Johnson also chairs the USF IRB Committee.  As a scholar Professor Johnson’s research centers on social equity within the fields of public policy, management, higher education and Human Resources Management.  He has been teaching in higher education for almost twenty years and is widely published with several peer-reviewed books and over two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles.  Professor Johnson holds graduate degrees from Georgetown University, Golden Gate University and DePaul University.  He holds membership in: Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society; Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society; Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society. Professor Johnson is also a life Member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. 
The purpose of this blog is to discuss my thoughts on the Me Too Movement. First, I must address my involvement with women’s rights through the years. I have been a supporter of women's rights all of my life.  I watched my parents (mother and father) participate in civil rights organizations since the time of my youth.  I also watched my mother participated in the graduate chapter of her sorority which was founded on the principles of social justice and public service. I grew up in the East Bronx, New York with a keen sense of social justice and understanding the importance of community activism.  However, I did not know that I was a feminist until taking Dr. Marsha Tyson Darling's class while being enrolled in graduate school at Georgetown University.  This was such a great realization for me to learn that men could be considered feminist as well.  Though, I understand that some women believe otherwise.  But as a Social Equity Scholar I know the value of allies.  For example, victories from the Civil Rights Movement were not won because only African Americans took to the streets.  Indeed, there were poor folks, Jewish folks, Asian folks, Hispanic folks, LGBT folks, priests and folks with disabilities.  All of these groups were on the front-lines, arm in arm with African Americans fighting for civil rights. 
 I have been following and supporting the Me Too Movement since it first emerged in 2017. This movement is no doubt important as society fights against sexual harassment and violence against women. The good fortune is that the movement is also spreading to other countries such as India where violence against women has been imbedded in the culture for decades.  
However, the movement must acknowledge and take responsibility for the fact that women of color have been victimized by sexual abuse for years. Often, this violence was committed by male employers and/or husbands.  There has also been many articles written about women of color who clean offices at night only to be sexually accosted by their supervisors. These reports have also indicated that hotel cleaning staff, primarily poorer women of color, have been victimizedby male hotel guests who expose themselves while the cleaner is working. 
The tragedy beyond being accosted is that nothing is generally done with the perpetrators of the above situations.   This is because even in the 21stcentury, women of color, especially women of color from working class/poor backgrounds, with little education and who work low wage jobs, are seen as not having the same agency has White women from means and resources.  Therefore, the challenge with the Me Too Movement is that it could have been started years before if in fact someone would have taken the claims of Black and Brown women seriously.  Indeed it was not until high profile White female celebrities such Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow among others got involved with the movement that caused visibility.  It is admirable that these women came forward and shared their stories of abuse. Their stories are worthy of illumination. However, the voices of women of color and refugee women continue to besilenced even within the larger Me too Movement. Please note that I am not victim blaming privileged and/or high profiled White women.   However, what I am suggesting very clearly and concretely is that the effects of institutionalized racism, sexism and classism can continue to be observed even in a well-intentioned organization such as the Me too Movement. 
Going forward, women in higher education can take lessons from the Me too Movement and focus on coming together as a unit (across social classes, races etc).  The advantage of doing so will increase opportunities for mentoring and career growth. Society is no place near parity. Therefore, women need to take up places on organizational boards (public and private), assume leadership positions, such as academic department chairs, deans, provosts and presidents.  I am so proud to have been appointed the first African American Department Chair by the first female Dean in the University of San Francisco’s School of Management history (USF was founded in 1855 and the School of Management/College of Business was started 95 years ago).  
Finally, the value of ally building is important to everyone fighting for equity and inclusion.  This has got to be the case with women in academia as well, specifically ASPA. Working with such sections such as DSJ, Ethics, LGBT Alliance and the like will help to strengthen the bonds of the women’s section and foster a commitment to advancing not only women’s right but the equal rights of all disenfranchised communities as well. It is clear that no identity group can conquer the insidious nature of hatred alone. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

#MeToo, the Academy and Responsibility

Sean McCandless
Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the 
University of Illinois 
Twitter: @seanmcc_pa

Sean McCandless works as an assistant professor of public administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield. His current research focuses on the roles played by LGBTQ campus center directors as frontline bureaucrats combatting youth homelessness. Sean serves as the chair elect of the Section on Democracy and Social Justice (DSJ) of the American Society for Public Administration; is completing a elected term as board member of the Public Administration Theory Network; and was twice an ASPA Founders’ Fellow (2016 and 2017) and also an ASPA International Young Scholar (2016). Along with Dr. Rashmi Chordiya (Seattle University) and Dr. Nicole Elias (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY), he has helped convene workshops on issues of social justice at ASPA-affiliated conferences. Finally, he and his mentor, Dr. Mary Guy, are currently working on an edited book on social equity, scheduled to be released by Melvin & Leigh in 2020.
Since the #MeToo movement was founded to combat sexual harassment and assault, millions of women have identified and discussed their own experiences of assault. A perusal of “Academic Twitter” reveals that the academy, including public administration, has not been immune to the issues to which #MeToo points. Advisors, colleagues, and friends tweet the hashtag, which prompt me to reflect on how workplaces can be hostile to differentness, including along lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. The academy has work to do. As an academic who identifies as male, there are things that I can do to help combat the hostile environments pointed to by #MeToo. To make another (and rather “meta”) point, I rely on sources written primarily by women and/or persons of color:

Be diverse and inclusive in syllabi. There are gender disparities in terms of who is assigned in course readings (see here and here). Readings by and about women (or, indeed, readings by and about persons part of any historically underrepresented group) need to be assigned more. Under-assigning readings by and about women could send the incorrect message that women are not important to the field. And a lack of possible publications to include in syllabi is not due to a lack of women writing. Recognizing the unique contributions of women in classroom syllabi is one powerful way to make a difference, particularly to acknowledge unsung heroes of the field, such as Frances Harriet WilliamsLaverne Burchfield, and many more. Being more diverse and inclusive in syllabi is also important for today’s doctoral students, who are tomorrow’s professors. Students, after all, are more likely to assign a reading in their own courses if they had once been assigned that reading. 

Make diversity, inclusion, and equity cornerstones of teaching. For decades, many students might have considered themselves lucky if issues of diversity, inclusion, and social equity were discussed in their coursesand academic programs can help improve coverage of diversity in the literature. There are lingering questionsas to whether these topics are assigned in some curricula at all. It is encouraging to see several texts (see hereand hereas two examples) that make these topics cornerstones rather than subjects discussed in passing. To be equitable administrators, students should be taught ways to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity and to learn counter narratives to hegemony. 

Embrace nervousness. Both instructors and students should become more proficient in understanding how injustices come about, how they are defined (and who defines them and power dynamics therein), and how to address them. Difficult discussions need to be had in classrooms about what causes prejudice. Nervousness about any issue of equity has to be overcome in order for new possibilities to be realized. As Mary Parker Follett once noted, conflict is necessary and should be creative so that multiple voices, recognizing the other’s interests as their own, forge new and more inclusive realities. 

Query ourselves. To me, public administration is about improving lives. From birth to death, public administration can improve the quality of life in ways that would not be possible if public administration were not present. Despite these goals, public administration has been culpablein creating and perpetuating injustices by treating some lives as less worthy than others. This is unacceptable, and public administration needs to admit wrong and take active stepsto promote justice. If we want change, we must directly counter prejudice to create true communities. But most of all, we need to query ourselves. We are not neutral social actors. We have to examine ourselves about our roles in creating safe workplaces. Querying (or even queering) our own privilege is a starting point. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Gender Responsive Budgeting and the #MeToo Movement: Seeking Solutions to Sexual Violence on College Campuses in America

Shilpa Viswanath
Ph.D Candidate at Rutgers University

Shilpa Viswanath is a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University – Newark. Her doctoral thesis looks at Public Sector Unionism in New Jersey and is being co-advised by Dr. Norma Riccucci and Dr. Stephanie Newbold . Shilpa is closely associated with American Society for Public Administration’s - Section for Women in Public Administration (SWPA). In fall 2019, Shilpa will begin teaching at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse as an Assistant Professor of Public Administration.

In September 2018, as part of the National Campus Awareness Month, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) situated in the United States Department of Justice, published survey statistics on sexual violence on American college campuses. Unsurprisingly, young women are victims of the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. According to the statistics, in 2017, one in 10 teens reported being physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend and, one in 5 young women were sexually assaulted while they were in college. Researchers, activists and journalists have significantly studied the risk factors of sexual victimization and intervention outcomes on college campuses, this blog post explores the administrative and budgeting challenges of implementing policies to prevent sexual violence on college campuses.  In this commentary, I argue on behalf of budgeting for sexual violence, not just exclusively on college campuses but, also earlier on in schools and later on in the workplace. While objective policy reports and strong legislations are an essential pre-requisite, mandatory budgeting for the implementation and sustenance of these policy solutions and legislations is imperative. 
In the recent decades federal programs and state laws have ensured steady funding to programs targeted at preventing sexual violence on American campuses. For instance, the OVW currently administers 25 grant programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and subsequent legislation. The OVW’s campus program claims to have awarded more than $131 million to colleges and universities since, 1998 to help them improve their prevention and response efforts. These programs are designed to develop the nation’s capacity to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable The OVW even performs evaluations of the effectiveness of its campus grants and qualitatively measures successful outcomes
However, despite OVW’s efforts we know that funding alone doesn’t reduce the incidence of sexual assault.  There is evidence that colleges and universities that have received federal grant money are being increasingly investigated for Title XI violations. What then is the solution? 
Scope and circumstances resulting in sexual violence occur much before female students enter college campuses. Sexual violence is rampant across middle and high schools in America, and the statistics are staggeringly disturbing. 
K-12 school infrastructure in the United States is grossly ill-equipped to combat sexual violence, neither are there policies, nor is there streamlined government funding to middle and high schools. 
In addition, the very expanse of American school and college education is mindboggling.  According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) there are some 139,874 elementary and secondary schools and 7,201 post-secondary institutions as of 2016. From an administrative standpoint it would be unrealistic for the OVW to consistently administer and evaluate grant money to all these institutions. How then, do American schools and colleges wage warfare against proliferating sexual abuse on campus? The answer might be in Gender Responsive Budgeting.  

What is Gender Responsive Budgeting?

Public administration scholars argue that: social and economic structural differences between men and women cause marked differences in the impact of government resource allocation and expenditure especially, in sectors such as public health, public education, public transport and public childcare. Structural differences between men and women refer to: women earning and saving less at interrupted intervals, women being over-represented in the unpaid care economy, women having discontinuous work histories and, women disproportionately being victims of sexual violence. Hence, budget statements which are presented as ‘neutral’ financial aggregates can hardly be unbiased or impartial if the revenue and expenditure decisions have differential impacts on men, women, transgendered, disabled and minorities. 
        Recognizing these inherent discrepancies in resource allocation, close to 80 countries around the world have implemented gender responsive budgeting at the federal, state or local levels since, 1985. Yet, the United States, despite its poor ranking on gender parity has remained agnostic to gender responsive budgeting and has refused to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) - a landmark international bill that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.
To fight sexual violence on college campuses, institutions might have to start accounting, acknowledging and appropriating resources for sexual abuse earlier in the education pipeline. The government might also have to mandatorily require budgeting for the prevention of sexual violence in both public and private sector organizations. It is time that school districts, state and the federal government recognize that the ‘experience’ of formal education is different for girls and women in America. To create a gender-neutral learning environment, we need to budget for the (obvious) incidence of sexual violence earlier on. 

Shilpa will be presenting her research on Gender Responsive Budgeting along with gender scholars Dr. Helisse Levine and Dr. Meghna Sabharwal at the ASPA 2019 National Conference in Washington D.C. If you happen to be at the conference this March 8-12th, do stop by to learn more about Gender Responsive Budgeting. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Supporting the #MeToo Movement with a Long-Overdue #UsToo Movement

Mohamad G. Alkadry, Ph.D
Professor and Head of the Public Policy Department 
at the University of Connecticut

Mohamad G. Alkadry serves as a Professor and Head of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut. He previously held academic and administrative appointments, and was tenured at, Florida International University in Miami, FL, West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. 

He received his Ph.D. from Florida Atlantic University (2000) and his Masters of Public Policy and Public Administration from Concordia University in Quebec (1996). His undergraduate work was done at Carleton University in Canada (2002, 2004) and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. 

Dr. Alkadry has over 50 peer-reviewed articles, peer-reviewed book chapters, journal symposia. He is also co-editor and co-author of three books: Women and Public Service: Barriers, Challenges and Opportunities (2013, 2014),These Things Happen: Stories from the Public Sector (2002), andScaling Up Microenterprise Services(1998). His work appears in Review of Public Personnel Administration, International Journal of Organizational Theory and Behavior, Public Administration Review, Administration and Society, Public Integrity, Journal of Education Finance, Social Work in Health Care,Public Productivity and Management Review,Public Administration and Management,Administrative Theory and Praxis, among other journals. 

Dr. Alkadry’s practitioner experience includes service as a senior research associate at the Center for Urban Redevelopment and Empowerment (Florida Atlantic University) and as a Value-for-Money (performance) Auditor with the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (Ottawa). Dr. Alkadry has authored in excess of fifty community and professional studies in areas of governance and public management. 

Women and men in academia are entitled to a decent learning environment and a safe workplace where they can learn and work. Women and men are also entitled to equality in professional development and growth opportunities. The recent #MeToo movement has made many of us wonder when the movement will fully reach academia. Sexual harassment and assault are mostly about power, and academia is generally not known for power-free departments and faculties. I was disappointed with the extent to which academia has been spared much of the #MeToo attention. I am also disappointed by the lack of substantial proactive action on the part of academic departments and units. 

The bravery of the movement earns my unreserved respect and I am glad to see this issue forced to the forefront of public attention. There is no surprise that some women face these terrible atrocities in what is supposed to safe workplaces. Women who have exposed such practices are brave and assume risks to their careers as well as within their own lives. 

The Anita Hill testimony during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did not end the accused nominee’s court prospects. However, the testimony left an unmistakable impact on organizations in terms of dealing with sexual harassment complaints. Organizations then scrambled to add sexual harassment to their human resources policy manuals. Things appear quite different with the organizational response to the #MeToo movement. Organizations tend to wait for an allegation, and respond by firing the offender and/or they financially settle with the victims. We have reduced ourselves to the role of spectators waiting for the next spectacle of sexual harassment or assault story to break out. That is a reactionary approach.  

We, as a society, might be failing victims of sexual behavior and assault if we continue to rely exclusively on them to expose perpetrators of sexual offenders and harassers among us. In fact, in many cases, non-victims know who these people are and what they are doing. However, we don’t start paying attention until a victim comes forward. There may be a reasonable respect for victims’ privacy that discourages many of us from outing victims as we expose perpetrators. Nonetheless, allowing a known perpetrator to continue to survive in organizations is a bad outcome and there should be ways to reconcile protecting victims and exposing perpetrators. 

How can academic units be proactive about sexual harassment questions? There are many ways for us to do. Climate assessments are just a small example. They may be used to take the pulse of an organization. We can ask if someone was ever subjected to sexual harassment or bullying or assault in a workplace; we should also ask people in these climate studies if they heard of or know about such instances. If a climate assessment raises a red flag, we can investigate further and move to expose these perpetrators. Waiting for victims to come forward is an indicator of a sick organizational culture. Exposing perpetrators before a victim comes forward is the true sign of organizational health.

It is good that the #MeToo movement is getting perpetrators of sexual harassment and sexual assault busted. However, a better measure of our decency as employers, as colleagues, and as a society is when we bust perpetrators before victims are ready to come out. Let us all look around and do our part to ensure that our organizations are safe workplaces. That is what an #UsToo movement would look like. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Returning to the Roots of #MeToo and Unanswered Questions for Academia to Tackle

David M. Shapiro, CPA
Fraud Risk and Financial Crimes Specialist

David M. Shapiro, CPA (inactive) is a Fraud Risk and Financial Crimes Specialist. He is also an expert generally on financial investigations and law enforcement. His extensive background includes work as an FBI (public sector) special agent / assistant legal advisor, assistant (public) prosecutor, and corporate (private sector) investigator. In brief, David has focused on conduct and financial crime risks.

David serves as a Distinguished Lecturer and Coordinator of the Fraud Examination and Financial Forensics program at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, instructing in the fields of inspection and oversight, fraud examination, and financial forensics (FEFF). He is the coordinator for the FEFF program. He has published articles in the areas of accounting, finance, and risk management. He recently wrote a special chapter for the book "How They Got Away With It: White Collar Criminals and the Financial Meltdown."

David was an expert management consultant, having completed assignments in the fields of risk management, fraud investigations, and investor due diligence in a variety of contexts, including mergers and acquisitions. To contact David please use his professional email address: or work telephone no.: (212)393-6882.


The ‘me too’ movement began as a collective voice to aid victims from low-wealth communities, yet its statistics do not directly and specifically address issues of wealth, income, and class. While National Crime Victimization Survey statistics disclose an approximate per capita consistency of sexual assaults from 2015 to 2017 (i.e., 1.6; 1.1; 1.4 per 1,000, respectively), and EEOC statistics from 1997 through 2011 on sexual harassment disclose an uptick in no reasonable cause findings from 41.40% to 53% arising from sexual harassment charges filed over this period (with EEOC charges received declining from 15,889 in fiscal year ’97 to 11,364 in ’11), the likelihood of underreporting sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment in the workplace, imprecisely and noticeably persists at the grassroots level monitored by organizations such as ‘me too.’ Like much public data, drilling down into individual cases seems both impractical and undesirable, yet a distinction should be made between absence of a formal record and absence of an underlying act of sexual misconduct. 

A detailed itemization of reasons not to report publicly need not be exhaustively recited (e.g., personal relationship with the offender, fear of retaliation, lack of belief in the helpfulness of the criminal justice system). In fact, BJS statistics for years 2015 and 2016 suggest that almost one-half of serious violent victimizations, including sexual assault, are not reported to the police. Unfortunately, obstacles to reportingmay not be limited to the U.S.

Perhaps, the ‘me too’ movement has amplified otherwise silent voices in seeming opposition to the perception that some voices count more than others. Moving beyond the formal criminal justice system, including police, public prosecutors, and judges, the ‘me too’ voice is louder in concert with other voices not contingent upon support from this system of justice but amplified through informal mutuality of victimhood. However, while ‘me too’ serves to organize informally victims of reported and unreported sexual misconduct and gives them a social media platform, it does not mitigate information risk (i.e., assurance of integrity of the claim). Additionally, all categories of sexual-related wrongdoing are not equivalent: crimes are heterogeneous in their fact patterns and seriousness. A set of rules and effective process are necessary to analyze the relevant conduct apart from overbroad legal offense jargon that may serve to aggregate disparate data misleadingly and impair the development of theoretical and conceptual research about causation. 

The reports of victims are varied. Ultimate causes need to be identified and parsed out or inferred from proximate causes. For example, while unchecked executive discretion may cause one incident, another may be the immediate result of situational dynamics such as individuals working long together in invisible venues (e.g., business travel). While non-consensual sexual conduct is wrongful, superficially consensual conduct in fact (i.e., circumstances of assent) may be deemed non-consensual in law (e.g., sexual conduct against a minor). In particular, inequality in the relationship (e.g., instructor over student) may be an under examined factor of causation, and in general the data gathered from criminal justice sources may not adequately represent the problems. 

The original vision of ‘me too’ seems to be neglected: are there disparities in wealth, income, and class such that this broad power imbalance results in unequal protection under the law? Are the laws adequate both in scope of protection and range of enforcement? Are there proxies or instrumental variables from which to infer the frequency and severity of sexual misconduct in the workplace? Are there key variables such as social, economic, and political inequalities that influence reporting within the criminal justice system? Is mitigation of the risk of sexual misconduct more a managerial than a legal problem; if so, how would the public and policymakers become adequately informed about potentially proprietary data in the private sector; how are the managers to be governed without robust access to information by impartial and independent regulators and supervisors? The data accumulated and analyzed to date seem materially incomplete from which to draw clear solutions and changes to public policy.

I propose the following action items for academia, the most respected fact-finders in our society, investigating like a multidisciplinary task force:

Secondary research should be conducted, using systematic and other reviews of authoritative literature, to assess the limits, strengths, and deficiencies in existing policies and laws, both domestically and internationally. The problem(s) demands a clearer and more general formulation. As data sources vary by jurisdiction (e.g., the American states’ reports) and the problem of sexual misconduct seems to transcend not only American state boundaries but countries’ boundaries, there would likely be an abundance of literature demanding further analysis and reconciliation. Common factors needs to be parsed out of the disparate literature to develop a more transparent assessment of causality. Moreover, experts across jurisdictions, including institutions focused on sexual misconduct such as ‘me too,’ could provide insight beyond the statistics generated through official sources. Consideration may be given to identifying underexplored units of analysis such as the workplace, especially within the context of how policy and law are actually implemented and their effects on the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of reporting on sexual misconduct. Essentially, secondary research should not only integrate prior authoritative findings but interrogate these as well: substantial issues such as data deficiencies and policy limitations to remedy such deficiencies require identification and analysis across jurisdictions, determining what works (or not).  

Theoretical and conceptual research should be conducted, using case studies and other explorations of sexual misconduct inside and outside the workplace to postulate common factors heretofore covert or under-researched (e.g., effects of unchecked managerial discretion, effects of monopolization of the criminal investigative and prosecutorial processes, inconsistency and unreliability of accountability mechanisms such as internal watchdogs / auditors). The development of comparative case studies across jurisdictions, domestic and international, would likely provide a fertile source of information about sexual misconduct, including how it progresses, how it evades detection, how accountability is impaired, and so on. Comparative case studies may be especially important with crimes such as sexual misconduct where personal and professional boundaries are stretched, if not perverted. Broadly, sexual misconduct often implicates an overbearing aggressor and under protected victim. How accountability mechanisms did not succeed in the prevention or timely detection of many of these cases is an issue that demands in-depth interviews of a highly intimate nature that may fill out the bare statistics and data gathered to date. Essentially, theoretical and conceptual discussion should move beyond past statements: grassroots responses such as ‘me too’ may signify both policy and data failures. Problem solving may benefit from such analytical and creative restatement.    

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Commonality of #MeToo in Academia: Why we need to change

Shannon Portillo, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice Chancellor 
KU Edwards Campus 
Associate Professor
School of Public Affairs & Administration 
Twitter: @Prof_SP 

Shannon Portillo is Assistant Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Programs at the KU Edwards Campus and an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. Dr. Portillo takes an interdisciplinary approach to her work pulling on organizational theories rooted in Public Administration and Law and Society to explore how rules and policies are carried out within public organizations. To date she has done work in a broad array of organizations including local government, the military, courts,  policing, and higher education. Using a variety of methods, she collects empirical data to assess how social, cultural and legal factors influence the day-to-day operations in these organizations. Teaching and research interests include social equity, social justice, organizational theory, and law and public management. Her work has appeared in Law & Policy, Administration & Society, Law & Social Inquiry, Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory and Public Administration Review among other outlets.

As a graduate student I attended the Midwest Political Science Associate conference. It was my first academic conference, and I was excited to meet many of the scholars I had read in the field. I was fortunate to attend a dinner with quite a few senior scholars. After the dinner I was thrilled to be invited out for drinks with some of them. At the end of the evening, one of them insisted on walking me back to my hotel. I naively thought it was a faculty member being overly protective of a student in a city at night. Unfortunately, once we arrived in front of my hotel and I tried to say goodnight, he tried to force a kiss on me. Maybe he didn’t recognize the gross inequity in power in the positions we had. Maybe he was just acting on an attraction. He sent me into a spiral of questioning my own worth and intelligence. Maybe I would never be taken seriously as a scholar. Maybe I didn’t belong at that conference or in this field. Maybe there was something uniquely wrong with me. 

The power of the #MeToo movement founded by Tarana Burke is the power of storytelling. When Ms. Burke started the hashtag that eventually went viral with the help of celebrities, scholars, students, and women from every walk of life, she knew her story and her trauma were not unique. It’s the commonality in these stories that is truly horrifying and moving. 

I told a friend, a fellow graduate student, my story at the time, but I knew there was no complaint to file, no public outrage. I felt like an interloper in a field dominated by men. I didn’t want to speak out or seem high maintenance or call attention to my otherness in this space. As I progressed in graduate school and early in my career, I learned that other women had similar stories. There were whispers shared about scholars you shouldn’t be alone with or who the safe men really were in the field. I learned as best I could, and navigated the field based on whispers and guidance from strong mentors of all genders. I knew early on I wanted to become a leader in the field, I wanted to mentor future generations of scholars, and ensure that other students didn’t experience what I had. I don’t want to be a part of a field that is seen as only old, white, and male.  

Unfortunately, the #MeToo movement has shown that my story is not unique. Fortunately, the #MeToo movement has also shown that there are brave women willing to speak out, share their stories, and demand that things change. Public administration is not exempt from this moment. Our field must change. We should support women speaking up and sharing their stories. But, this moment is not just about women sharing their stories. We should encourage senior scholars of all genders to be strong mentors and create an environment where we don’t turn the other way when we hear whispers about our colleagues. This is a moment for senior colleagues to recognize that they set the tone for what is acceptable and tolerated, and who is seen as belonging to our field. Let’s all ensure that the stories about our field are the ways that we lift each out up and push the scholarship forward. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Implications of the #MeToo Movement for Academia

Nicole M. Elias @NicoleEliasPhD
Maria J. D'Agostino @MJDPHD

What does this mean for the world of higher education? What are the issues, dynamics, power structures, and practices that are taken for granted and make sexual harassment and sexual assault so prevalent in higher education?

Most recently, Karen Kelsky conducted a crowd sourced survey of sexual harassment in the academy that documents more than 2400 cases. The implications of the #Metoo Movement for academia span common practices, policies, and culture in higher education. #MeToo experiences have emerged from teaching, mentoring, and research arrangements beyond the classroom. These incidents have prompted a larger conversation and rethinking of the power dynamics in academia; namely, the role of institutions and individuals in preventing sexual harassment and assault. The #MeToo movement presents an opportunity to question and change the assumed  practices and structures that perpetuate and render sex and gender inequity invisible. This blog thread will run throughout the Spring 2019 semester with a contribution from Dr. Shannon Portillo. Contributors to this series provide diverse perspectives on #MeToo. We invite anyone interested in these topics to join our discussion with the aim of offering potential solutions to these difficult challenges. If you have questions or would like to contribute, please contact us at:  

Discrimination Is Not For Anyone

 Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III Professor and Chair for the Department of Public  and Nonprofit Administration, School of Managem...