Recommendations to prevent and fight sexual harassment in academia

In addressing gender inequality within academia, research acknowledges the role of organizational practices and cultures that reproduce gender bias, stereotypes, and covert barriers to women's academic careers. One such discriminatory practice in academic institutions is subtle and often hidden: sexual harassment. The fact that sexual harassment remains often hidden has also challenged researchers in search of representative data. Sexual harassment is often not a priority or even thought to be an issue, which makes fighting it especially difficult. Finally, if academic institutions are also educational bodies, students and their study environments need to be considered in the analysis of sexual harassment.

Fighting sexual harassment should therefore be an essential part of well-bing policies and, by extension of policies menat to create a gender-friednly work environment or to foster gender equality within academia. In turn, fostering a gender-equality culture within the institution can also contribute to fighting sexual harassment.

Antwerp Charter on Gender-Sensitive communication in and by academic institutions

One important reason for segregation in academic institutions, is people's repeated exposure to pervasive cultural stereotypes that portray women as less competent for, and dedicated to, an academic and/or professional career. Such unconscious gender-based assumptions may be reflected in language (oral, written or visual) and unintentionally cause offence, giving rise to a non-supportive environment. As a consequence, it is understood that communication in and by academic institutions plays an important role in the persistence or annihilation of such gender-based assumptions and stereotypes, constituting thresholds or advancements for women in academia.

This Charter therefore aims to raise the awareness of, and sensitivity to, these issues by providing suggestions for the elimination of bias from all communication, thus creating a supportive and inclusive academic institutional Environment for all.