Nationally, Harassment is Pervasive and Underreported


Welcome to the Diversity and Inclusion Blog and part 3 of NASA’s Anti-Harassment Campaign post! I am pleased to say that harassment reporting levels at NASA have been extremely low in recent years: reports of non-sexual harassment have ranged from 47-65 per year, while reports of sexual harassment have ranged from 7-19 per year.

However, I am also cognizant that national statistics assure us that harassment is pervasive and underreported: 25%-85% of women in the United States have reported experiencing workplace sexual harassment, and 90% of individuals don’t file a complaint for fear of disbelief, inaction, blame, or social or professional retaliation.

Harassment is a potential huge risk for our workforce and mission. It is unknown whether workplace harassment is—truly—not a significant issue at NASA or—alternatively—may be underreported and undiscovered. As former Acting Administrator Lightfoot stated in his video Anti-Harassment Campaign message, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

At NASA, we are committed to providing a safe environment for reporting to take place. Your comments on this subject are most welcome. Is NASA succeeding as a safety culture? Are all NASA employees confident that they are valued and respected?

Thank you for your thoughtful responses to these vital questions!

Steve Shih, Esq.
Associate Administrator
Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity

2 thoughts on “Nationally, Harassment is Pervasive and Underreported”

  1. Thank you for your response! We very much appreciate your comments! ODEO’s David Chambers is NASA’s Anti-Harassment Program Manager, if you have any feedback you would like to share directly with him.

  2. These findings do not surprise me.
    For the benefit of myself and others, I’ve given years of thought to the what can be done. Fear of retaliation is very real, often because it can look different in each situation. I think in many cases it is subtle: ignoring ideas, hindering career growth, exclusion from new teams or opportunities, impatience with the victim, downplaying contributions (or ignoring them), etc. These behaviors can generally only be seen over a longer period, and only if you are comparing against the norms seen with respect to the rest of the team. I’ve “known” for my entire career that I would suffer more if I reported bad behavior/harassment, even when it was overt, obvious to others and hostile. This was confirmed when my supervisors, at the time of 2 different instances at 2 different NASA centers, did nothing.
    I want to feel safer and more protected in my workplace. I want this for everyone.

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