Giving Compass' Take:

One woman recalls her account of dealing with persistent sexual harassment during her medical research PhD study at a university in the United Kingdom.

How can woman create support networks in male-dominated fields that force men to be accountable?

Read about this online tool that helps woman fight sexual harassment.

Lois, a medical researcher, endured more than five years of sexual harassment during her postgraduate study at a leading UK university. It started when she worked on a project between her MSc and PhD. The professor overseeing the research bombarded her and the other women in the group of junior researchers with crude and humiliating sexual comments.

“He said I looked so sexy in overalls that he had to resist the urge to rip them off me. One day it was raining and he came in wet and he announced that, him being our boss, he should make us dry him with our naked bodies,” she recalls.

The harassment escalated when she began her PhD, even though she was no longer working in his lab. Now that he saw her only twice a week, rather than every day, he made a point of touching her every time he saw her and commenting on her appearance.

Lois decided against making a formal complaint of sexual harassment, partly because she discovered one had previously been made against the same professor. She says: “I just knew it wouldn’t be worth it, and most likely nothing would happen. Very few people would back me up.”

But the main reason for her reluctance to make a formal complaint was being a junior woman in a small, male-dominated field.

Lois’s experiences are typical of more than 30 victims from the UK and the US who have told the Observer how the hierarchy, working environment and male-dominated culture of science, not only in their university but in their specialism/discipline, makes tackling sexual misconduct more complex and challenging than in other academic fields and industries.

Read the full article on sexual harassment by David Batty and Nicola Davis at The Guardian