Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act - H.R.36 / S.1067

"To provide for research to better understand the causes and consequences of sexual harassment affecting individuals in the scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematics workforce and to examine policies to reduce the prevalence and negative impact of such harassment, and for other purposes."
Primary Sponsors
Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK) / Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Final outcome

House passed amended version of H.R.36 by voice vote on 07/23/2019

Summary of Selected Provisions

Provisions in both bills

  • Directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop an inventory of current federal science agency policies, procedures, and resources for preventing and responding to reports of sexual harassment

  • Directs OSTP to issue uniform policy guidelines for federal science agencies on how to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual harassment at grantee institutions

  • Stipulates that these guidelines require grantees to notify funding agencies of “findings or determinations” of sexual harassment and “any decisions made to place grant personnel on administrative leave or impose any administrative action on grant personnel” due to a harassment investigation

  • Directs agencies with annual extramural research expenditures greater than $100 million to implement policies that are consistent with these guidelines

  • Directs the National Science Foundation to establish a program that awards grants for research on sexual harassment in the STEM workforce

  • Directs NSF to convene an interagency working group to collect data on the prevalence of sexual harassment in higher education

  • Directs NSF to commission an update of the 2009 National Academies report on responsible research conduct and a new study on how sexual harassment in higher education influences career advancement in the STEM workforce

  • Authorizes $17.4 million for NSF to carry out directed activities

Selected provisions in amended House bill

  • The House Science Committee approved a modified version of the bill on June 20, adopting a substitute amendment by Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and an amendment by Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK). The Lucas amendment narrows the scope of “administrative actions” that trigger harassment reporting requirements to those that “affects the ability of grant personnel or their trainees to carry out the activities of the grant”

  • The committee also adopted a minor amendment by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) that instructs OSTP to consider developing guidelines for policies that help harassment victims reenter the research workforce

Actions on the House bill
House passed amended bill by voice vote
House Science Committee approved amended bill
Bill introduced
Actions on the Senate bill
Bill introduced
Other versions
Relevant FYI Bulletins

One year after a landmark National Academies study illuminated the pervasiveness of sexual and gender harassment in the sciences, the House Science Committee approved a bill that adopts several of the report’s recommendations.

Amid increasing calls for action from within the scientific community and Congress, some federal agencies and scientific societies have advanced new initiatives to combat sexual harassment in the sciences. 

A new National Academies report finds sexual harassment of women is pervasive in academia and is jeopardizing advances in gender equity in STEM fields. To address the issue, the report urges academic institutions to go beyond legal compliance and focus on changes in culture.