European Society for the study of Human Evolution — sexual harassment and Jean-Jacques Hublin

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Guest post by a group of early career researchers

After the shocking handling by the Society for American Archaeology recently, when they failed to act when a known sexual harasser attended their conference, there is renewed spotlight on policies put in place by societies and conference organisers.

The European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) 2019 conference takes place in September, with the abstract deadline at the start of May. Their website has a ‘Statement on creating a safe and open working environment’ which states:

“Due to their centrality in professional training and networking in our discipline, we view conferences and fieldwork as extensions of the workplace environment. As such, all institutional rules regarding appropriate behaviour apply in these contexts, as does this ESHE statement. The society will not tolerate harassment in any form.”

An investigation by Michael Balter, reports inappropriate behaviour by Jean-Jacques Hublin at a recent ESHE conference, that he was, and still is, the president. At a minimum Hublin’s actions at ESHE are in direct contradiction with the above policy. Additionally, here are some quotes from Balter’s investigation about Hublin’s behaviour at other professional conferences:

A former student who is now on the faculty of a major university said: “Professor Jean-Jacques Hublin sat next to me in the student awards reception and put his hand on my thigh under the table,” she says, adding that he “told me how much he liked me. I obviously got out of there as fast as I could.”

Another woman describes Hublin sidling up to her during a more recent meeting and whispering sexually suggestive words in her ear. This researcher declined to specify what Hublin said, stating only that it was “disgusting.”

We are a group of PhD students and early career researchers from the UK, and between us we regularly attend ESHE and other biological anthropology conferences. We do not want to attend the meeting now we know the president is a sexual harasser. It also makes a mockery of having policies in place for such meetings when the president clearly does not abide by these set of rules.

Unfortunately, we have to remain anonymous due to worries about repercussions. Senior European figures, who employ or grant us funding, have yet to acknowledge Hublin’s behaviour, and we fear speaking out against such a senior figure in our field will have consequences.

We hope senior members of the ESHE membership will take this on board and push for Jean-Jacques Hublin to be replaced. With such overwhelming numbers of sexual harassers in our field, we are not going to be able to eradicate the issue anytime soon. However, replacing one of these individuals as the president of one of our biggest societies is a much-needed step.

If you have any suggestions on ways forward or would like to voice your support for removing Jean-Jacques Hublin as ESHE president please get in touch at: ESHEconference@gmail.com

Original article is published here:
https://medium.com/@ConferenceEshe/european-society-for-the-study-of-human-evolution-sexual-harassment-and-jean-jacques-hublin-cacb082728a9

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