I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff lately on women who were sexually harassed while doing field work. There was a study published in PLoS ONE by Clancy et al. that went into some details on inappropriate comments and unwelcome advances in a variety of field settings. This is both dangerous and infuriating. It should absolutely not be tolerated by anyone.
I have only two things to add. The first is that field work is a wonderful thing. In the field you can focus on your research in ways impossible elsewhere. In the field you not only learn about your study system, you expand your natural horizons in glorious ways. Why I am a biologist comes from field work. I’ve worked alone and in groups, formally and informally, in the US, Europe, and the tropics. I’ve slept in waspy meadows. I’ve marched through Brazilian Atlantic forests looking for bees. I’ve crossed picket lines in Venezuela to get at wasp nests. I’ve snorkeled in Belize. I’ve dug for Dicty at Mountain Lake Biological Station. You get the idea, that field work is wonderful.
My second point is that field workers are generally great people, men and women. So when you experience or witness annoyances, hostile climate, or real dangers, expose them and their perpetrators. You don’t only have to turn to women either, for men do not like this kind of issue either. So speak up! Remember that field sites are usually safe in all ways, though they will reflect the community they are in. Turn to the community to shame and control the creeps and jerks. The power of support is profound.
Just please don’t forgo the field trips!