Scientists and technologists work at the very edges of the unknown – which can be a dangerous place. So workplace safety has long been an important issue for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors.
As a result, there are well-advanced processes and procedures in place that work towards zero-harm in Australia’s laboratories, offices and field environments.
However, the STEM sector is less aware, and has been less willing to acknowledge and address the mental and physical harms associated with discrimination and harassment.
To mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work tomorrow (Saturday, 28 April), the peak body for Australia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors has taken a stand against discrimination, bullying, harassment and abuse in the workplace.
Following the launch of the Australian response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements – NOW Australia – Science & Technology Australia (STA) has announced it will work to foster safer, more inclusive workplaces for all scientists and technologists.
President of STA, Professor Emma Johnston said the sector was well advanced when it came to protecting STEM professionals in the field, in the lab and in the office – but workplace bullying and harassment were problems that required action from all sectors.
“STA will partner with organisations like NOW Australia, and recently became a member of the Diversity Council of Australia, to begin to address workplace harassment and bullying of science and technology professionals,” Professor Johnston said.
“Collectively, STA represents more than 70,000 STEM professionals. We are working hard to support and encourage a diverse, inclusive and supportive STEM sector, that promotes safe and accepting workplaces.
“We want all researchers and innovators to be supported to shape a brighter future for the nation, and safe workplaces will allow them to do this to the best of their ability.”
STA CEO Kylie Walker said that appropriate policies, guidelines and a supportive workplace culture were a crucial start to addressing workplace harassment.
“We are working to establish policy and guideline templates for STEM associations and societies, to support them in protecting the people they represent,” Ms Walker said.
“We will continue to advocate for a STEM sector that leads the way; a sector that does not accept discrimination, prevents harassment, and fosters and environment where all are equal.”
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