Senior astronomers have accused the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – CSIRO of failing to address a culture of bullying and sexual harassment in its astronomy department.
The organisation has conducted 16 investigations into alleged professional misconduct in the department since 2008, including an allegation of sexual assault and a case that involved the police.
The situation makes one astronomer so concerned she hesitates before sending her students to parts of the department.
“It bothers me because of the fact that they could go on and reoffend without us being able to protect those potential future victims,” said the ANU’s Naomi McClure-Griffiths, a former senior member of the department and one of Australia’s top radio astronomers.
“I’d hate to be the person who sent a student to go work with somebody and have them turn out to become a victim of harassment, and know that I could have prevented it.
“It becomes a very complex conversation — you work with co-supervisors and discuss if there are ways to subtly avoid that supervisor relationship coming about without ever having to say that somebody is a risky person.”