The U.S. government agency responsible for sending human beings into space has taken new steps toward protecting its members from the terrestrial threats of sexual harassment and assault.
On Thursday, Robert Lightfoot, the acting administrator of NASA has announced new initiatives for the agency. This move seemingly comes in response to the #MeToo movement which has highlighted abuses of power in various industries following the October 2017 watershed reporting about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s numerous sexual misconduct accusations.
On Thursday, NASA released a new video in which Lightfoot said “I want to be very clear on where NASA stands on this. Harassment, including sexual harassment, has no place at NASA and will not be tolerated.”
The video outlines the procedures for all NASA employees and contractors to report harassment of any kind. Though the policies aren’t brand-new, Lightfoot’s statements encourage all members of NASA to be “vigilant” in helping prevent and stop workplace harassment. However, Lightfoot is requiring all current and new members of NASA to undergo anti-harassment training by the end of 2018.
It’s relevant to note that Lightfoot has been NASA’s “acting” administrator for over a year, a position he took after Charles Bolden resigned following the inauguration of President Trump in 2017. Writing or Ars Technica on January 29, Erin Berger points out that NASA has not had a formal leader for quite some time. This is because Trump’s choice for a new NASA administrator — Jim Bridenstine — has not been confirmed by the Senate, mostly because he is a well-known climate-change denier.
Presumably, when a new full-time NASA administrator is confirmed, NASA’s renewed anti-harassment policies will stay in effect.