For the first time since its founding in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences will allow expulsion of members for serious offences including sexual harassment. MAXWELL MACKENZIE/NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
The prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C., has voted to allow expulsion of members for breaches of its Code of Conduct, including sexual harassment. Until now, election to the 156-year-old academy, a pinnacle of scientific achievement, has been a lifetime honour.
In voting that concluded on 31 May with results announced this morning, 84% of those who cast ballots approved an amendment to the organization’s bylaws, allowing expulsion of a member by a two-thirds vote of NAS’s 17-member Council; 16% voted against the change. The average age of NAS members is 72; 83% are men. Although 2242 NAS members were eligible to vote, the academy did not disclose how many participated.
“All women who have had a tough road—even those who have made it—I’m sure like me are happy to see this day where they can finally say: ‘The climate is gonna change,’” says Marcia McNutt, president of NAS, who drove the vote to the change the bylaws. “No longer will a climate be tolerated that doesn’t allow women to have the same chance as their male colleagues to thrive.”