Respectful Behavior Policy

Respectful Behavior Policy

Freedom of expression and vigorous debate are crucial to scholarly exchange. The History of Science Society strongly values mutual respect and strives to provide an environment for exchange that is free from bias and intimidation. The Society is dedicated to securing a safe, hospitable, and productive environment for everyone. Accordingly, the Society deplores all harassment and is sensitive to the harm suffered by persons who experience it. We expect speakers and questioners at our meetings to demonstrate self-control and civility, even in the midst of strong disagreement, and not to engage in ad hominem attacks. Furthermore, we expect those participating in the Society’s meetings and events to treat others with respect and not to engage in behavior that is discriminatory, intimidating, threatening, or harassing. This expectation applies to our speakers, staff, volunteers, and attendees.

Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Standards

The Society prohibits any unwelcome conduct that is based on an individual’s sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, national origin, age, marital status, disability, or employment status and that creates an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Harassment may include such actions as: (1) inappropriate physical contact; (2) inappropriate jokes or verbal kidding or teasing; (3) verbal abuse and epithets; (4) degrading comments; (5) the display of offensive or sexually suggestive objects or pictures; (6) conduct or comments of a lewd or lascivious nature, including subtle pressure for sexual activity; (7) repeated offensive sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; and (8) any other conduct that the individual (or group of individuals) might reasonably find to be intimidating, hostile, offensive, coercive, or threatening. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature or consensual personal and social relationships.


If an individual or group of individuals believes that they have experienced any violation of this policy at a Society meeting or event, the person or group should report the incident immediately to the Society Ombudsperson ( Although anyone may seek advice from the Ombudsperson, only the individual or individuals alleging that they have been harassed may file a complaint. The Ombudsperson shall listen to the grievance, describe the policy and procedures, outline issues of privacy and confidentiality, and discuss possible courses of action regarding the filing or non-filing of a formal complaint. The Ombudsperson shall take all reasonable efforts to maintain in strict confidence the identity of individuals reporting an incident and the person or persons implicated in an incident. The Ombudsperson shall prepare for Council annually an aggregate, anonymized summary of all such reported incidents. If an individual elects to file a formal complaint, that person must describe the incident in a non-confidential written statement delivered to the Ombudsperson within sixty (60) calendar days of the alleged conduct and preferably immediately following the incident. The Ombudsperson will provide the statement concurrently to the accused party or parties and to the three-person Respectful Behavior Review Committee. The accused party may elect to file a written response, and if so, the written response must be filed with the Ombudsperson within sixty (60) calendar days of receipt of the initial written complaint. The Chair of the Committee shall contact both parties to discuss the incident and determine whether there is a mutually acceptable resolution. If no such resolution can be found, the Committee shall determine whether the incident constituted harassment under the terms of this Policy. If the Committee determines the incident constituted harassment, it shall furnish a report of the incident, the Committee’s findings, and a recommended sanction, if any, to the Secretary of the Council within sixty (60) days.


The Council shall consider the case. If a majority of the entire Council concurs with the recommendations of the Committee, the Council Executive Committee shall issue a written reprimand including any sanctions banning the individual from future meetings and/or revoking the individual’s membership. The Secretary of the Council will report the outcome to all parties involved, which is final.

Contact the Society Ombudsperson.

Approved by HSS Council, 7 June 2017