Though upsetting, the scale of the problem is unsurprising to many women in academia.

Rebecca Kukla, a philosophy professor at Georgetown University, says she knows several men who “have treated women in philosophy inexcusably, despite being visible feminists and allies,” she writes in an email to Quartz. “Frankly, some of them are close friends of mine.”

Women have grown used to their behavior, she adds. “Guarding our bodies from unwanted touches, finding ways of shaking them off and staying professional when they happen, and learning to be dignified and stoic – and perhaps even funny – in the face of sexist microaggressions and constant sexualized belittlement” is, she says, “part of our job training.”

All too many instances of harassment are brushed aside. Just months ago, Kukla says she posted details of her own experiences as a graduate student on Facebook, detailing how a professor grabbed her by the scarf, lightly choking her, and remarked that she had given a “fuck me now” talk. The response from many of her Facebook friends and former graduate school colleagues, she says, was to defend the professor as “good at supporting women” and “quirky and harmless.”

“It was bewildering,” wrote Kukla. “I felt like my experiences and their significance had been completely undercut and dismissed.” In the majority of cases, the harassers go unpunished while “the ones doing the calling out end up humiliated and undermined.” Meanwhile, some perpetrators are “torn apart limb from limb” as a public scapegoat. “Both responses seem deeply unacceptable to me,” Kukla added.

Ayesha Ramachandran, a comparative literature professor at Yale University, agrees that sexual harassment in academia is pernicious and difficult to address. “Power imbalances and the tightness of the job market are contributing factors, but the main issue, I think, is the blurry boundaries between personal and professional spheres,” she writes in an email to Quartz. Faculty often drink with students or invite them to their homes to work. “It’s also worth remembering that it is fairly recent to have women in the university and (especially) in positions of power,” she adds.

Still, as she describes in the Washington Post (paywall), Ramachandran is planning a grassroots series of conversations, panels, and lunches to discuss how sexual harassment could be better addressed in academia.

“We’re talking finally! And openly,” Ramachandran told Quartz. “We have to support and move that along strongly, not shut it down because the revolution hasn’t happened already,” she adds.

Change may take a generation, she says, but it’s beginning.

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