Smithsonian in Panama ready for scrutiny “for allegations of sexual abuse – Science

Panama City, Dec 10 (EFE) .- The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), based in Panama, said this Friday that it is open to “scrutiny” after the publication of a US medium that collects complaints from 16 scientists about inappropriate sexual conduct of directors of this institution.

“We must welcome the scrutiny. We must lead or we must bend. We want to lead,” STRI director Joshua Tewksbury said on his Twitter account about what was published by the digital medium BuzzFeed News about this unprecedented scandal and that it has been reproduced in local media, such as La Estrella de Panamá.

This newspaper published that an article in BuzzFeed News indicates that 16 researchers who worked at the headquarters in Panama had allegedly suffered sexual abuse while doing their studies on the island of Barro Colorado, considered a “mecca” for tropical biologists that is located in the Gatun Lake of the Panama Canal.

Run by STRI since 1946, Barro Colorado, being in the middle of the Canal with the formation between 1904 and 1914 of Gatun Lake (at the time considered the largest artificial lake in the world), is a science and climate research site tropical to which prestigious scientists go to carry out their studies.

According to the BuzzFeed News article, the scientists denounced “sexual misconduct by high-ranking men” at the Smithsonian for more than a decade and under the management of at least five directors.

The scientists told the US digital newspaper that “during that time, reports of sexual misconduct at STRI were an open secret transmitted through whisper networks.”

See also  EU. Who is an astronaut? Tourist flights to space cause controversy

One of the researchers said a laboratory director “raped her at a scientific conference in San Francisco in 2011.” And seven other women claimed that this same director sexually harassed them, while another revealed that in 2019 one of the abusers received the “Smithsonian Secretary’s Distinguished Investigator Award.”

The publication notes that for years the STRI issued little more than “verbal warnings or social restrictions” to those accused of sexual misconduct “while allowing them to continue interacting with newly arrived young investigators.”

According to BuzzFeed News, “the institute eventually took additional disciplinary action against two of the accused scientists in 2019 and 2020,” but “a third scientist continues to work at STRI.”

Tewksbury said Friday he was “deeply saddened by this news,” adding that he would like to “personally acknowledge the pain and courage it takes for people to step up” in a situation like this.

In that sense, Tewksbury remarked that “Sexual harassment has no place in @stri_panama and it has no place in @Smithsonian. Whenever it happens, anywhere, we are all handicapped.”

Still, the STRI director admitted that “there is no way to erase the pain, there are only actions to make the work of science more inclusive, diverse and safe for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation “.

He also said that the STRI community is committed to the work ahead “that will make us a stronger partner and a stronger community,” noting that it is also work that “will strengthen our science. We should welcome scrutiny. “.

See also  Joxan Iza stands up to the artistic pandemic with 'Space for an appearance'

STRI, in Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution based in Washington.

Myrtle Frost

"Reader. Evil problem solver. Typical analyst. Unapologetic internet ninja."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top