#UsToo?: Sexual Harassment in Social Work Education – #MacroSW Chat Jan. 25, 2018

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Due to the most recent light that has been shed on sexual harassment and sexual assault with the #MeToo and #TimesUp hashtags, we will be looking sexual harassment that takes place in schools of social work.

As one of our guest experts for this chat, Dr. Melissa (Missy) Bird, says, “The era of  ‘handling it internally’ must end.”

A former social work Ph.D. student colleague of Missy’s at the University of Southern California filed a complaint against a professor who was found guilty of sexual harassment; he has faced no repercussions and will still be exposed to students. Since Missy blogged about it, many other instances of academic harassment were brought to her attention.

As Macro social workers we have an ethical obligation to publicly address harassment in all of its forms. Given the gender makeup of the profession (89% female), many forms of  harassment and unequal treatment takes place aside from that of a sexual nature (i.e. a gender pay gap at the highest pay levels).

We’ll chat about how large the problem of harassment is in schools of social work, how we should address harassment in social work schools across the country, what the data shows, and how to recognize when you are being harassed.

Melissa Bird, Ph.D. @birdgirl1001 is joined by Kristie Holmes, Ph.D., LCSW @DrKristie to discuss how our profession handles – for better or worse – such incidents.

The chat is hosted by #MacroSW partner Pat Shelly of the University at Buffalo @UBSSW

Headlines from Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, Newsweek, New York Times

Questions for discussion:

  1. How can we incorporate #MeToo / #TimesUp into social work academia?
  2. How do social workers contribute to harassment of their peers in academia and in the field?
  3. What laws  in your state  protect whistleblowers and the reporting of harassment?
  4. Do you consider the level of social workers’ pay as a form of harassment? What laws protect against gendered pay gaps?
  5. How can we do better, in our schools of social work, regarding sexual harassment?


This grad student says her professor harassed her. Her life changed. Did his?

Sexual Harassment at USC Suzanne Dworak Peck School of Social Work Must Not Be Ignored

“Dangerous Safe Havens: Institutional Betrayal Exacerbates Sexual Trauma”

Smith, C. P. and Freyd, J. J. (2013), Dangerous Safe Havens: Institutional Betrayal Exacerbates Sexual Trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(1),119–124. doi:10.1002/jts.21778

“No one talked about it:” Social Work Field Placements and Sexual Harassment http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10437797.2017.1283270

Sexual Harassment in Social Work Field Placements: Prevalence and Characteristics http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886109916644643

Anonymous, Open Sourced Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey

Additional resources:

Policy recommendations from The Report of the Independent Investigation  (University of Rochester in the matter of Professor Florian Jaeger, a faculty member of Brain and Cognitive Science Dept.)

Title VII: Know Your Rights at Work

Dressing for sexual harassment hearings

TIME Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers

01-25-18 TIMEperson-of-year-2017-time-magazine-cover1

Smiling white woman, about 45 years old, in blue with white polka-dot dress wiht deep sweetheart neckline; she has dark brown hair in a punkish, almost-Mohawk style.
Melissa (Missy) Bird

As a writer, professor and fiery public speaker, Dr. Bird creates the genesis for a new brand of leadership. Her words awaken revolutionaries, trailblazers and powerful innovators in the quest for justice. @birdgirl1001 birdgirlindustries.com

White woman with long blonde hair, about 40 years old, smiles and stands facing camera, wearing hot pink dress.
Kristie Holmes

Kristie Holmes, Ph.D., LCSW, specializes in topics related to global health, gender and media, and technology’s impact on relationships. She serves on the board of the United Nations Women U.S. National Committee.  @DrKristie   www.drkristieholmes.com

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