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Fostering a Culture of Respect

March 5, 2018 

Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has had an incredible impact, inspiring countless individuals to step forward with their stories of sexual misconduct and ushering in a wave of change in academia and industries across the globe.

Just a few months ago, a brave woman in the Stanford Department of Chemistry, Dr. Maria Dulay, told her story to Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) in an article titled “Confronting sexual harassment in chemistry.” Published in September 2017, the article shined a harsh light on the problem of sexual misconduct in academia.

Maria Dulay

Soon after the article's publication, Dulay, referred to as “Nancy” in the C&EN piece, identified herself and shared a statement detailing the harassment she experienced several years ago as a research scientist at Stanford. Her harasser is no longer employed at the university.

Left: Dr. Maria Dulay (Image Credit: Binhong Lin)

The Department of Chemistry has responded to these allegations seriously, taken steps to address the situation, and focused on fostering a respectful workplace culture.

In partnership with the Sexual Harassment Policy Office, the Department of Chemistry has developed and distributed an informational flyer on sexual harassment that outlines how to report concerns to the university and lists resources and contacts available to the campus community.

In late February 2018, the department organized a workshop for faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral scholars on “Creating a Shared Culture of Respect.” Speakers from the Sexual Harassment Policy Office, Human Resources and the Title IX Office discussed professionalism, harassment and discrimination, and they provided resources for reporting concerns and receiving counseling. Following the workshop, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a thoughtful, interactive discussion. A follow-up survey was conducted to solicit feedback from attendees. A video of the workshop is available below.

A Wave of Change

A few weeks later, C&EN's Stereo Chemistry podcast followed up on the September 2017 cover story to look at what has changed - and what hasn't - since that piece was published. Host Kerri Jansen spoke with reporters who broke the story and chemists who have survived sexual harassment, including Maria Dulay and Miranda Paley of ACS.

At the annual American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting, which took place in New Orleans in March, a two-part session focused on the “Science of Sexual Harassment.” Panelists, including Maria Dulay, examined sexual harassment and what communities are doing to stop it in chemistry and beyond. In the first session, experts explored the psychology and sociology of sexual harassment, including what prevents many people who are harassed from reporting it. The second session looked at what chemistry departments and associations are doing – or should be doing – to stop harassment. A video of Dulay opening the afternoon session of the "Science of Sexual Harassment" is now available on C&EN's Facebook page.

Many institutions are taking firm stances against harassment and discrimination. The National Science Foundation recently announced that it has taken steps to ensure that research environments are free from sexual harassment. Additionally, NSF has strengthened its policies, guidelines and communications so that institutions understand expectations and individuals understand their rights.

Steps Forward

This past month, Provost Persis Drell issued Stanford’s first Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report, which provides the campus community with cases of prohibited sexual conduct that have been brought to the university over the past academic year and the outcomes of those cases.

A letter written by Provost Drell accompanied the report, reaffirming Stanford’s commitment to preventing sexual violence, supporting victims and providing fair and effective adjudication processes. The letter outlines a series of new initiatives in the areas of education and prevention and asks the campus community to tackle this issue together and put an end to sexual violence. 

In April, Provost Drell also shared the news that Stanford and the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education reached a resolution agreement regarding Title IX compliance at the university.

The Department of Chemistry and Stanford University do not tolerate sexual harassment and are committed to creating a workplace environment of mutual respect, honesty and integrity. Moving forward, we will continue our efforts to cultivate a respectful and inclusive culture, and we encourage dialogue about how we can work together as a community to address these issues and find appropriate solutions. We will provide updates to the campus community about future events and initiatives we are undertaking through our website, social media outlets and quarterly newsletter, and we welcome feedback.

Share Your Feedback

The Department of Chemistry welcomes and encourages feedback about how we can work together as a community to create an inclusive, respectful and fair work environment. Share your feedback with us through this anonymous webform


Stanford offers a variety of resources and services to students, staff and faculty who are concerned about sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. For a list of resources, please visit this page.