We, a group of current and ex-students of our alma mater Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, conducted a survey among our female engineers and engineering students of our alma-mater university in Bangladesh to collect statistics on gender-based misconducts and harassments by batches and departments over many years to help us present a clear picture. Here we considered gender based misconduct/harassment by a member of our campus-community towards another member, verbal or physical in nature, on or off campus, that has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with victim’s personal life, and education or work performance at campus. Also one that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, work, or living environment. Since campus is one of the safer institutes, starting with campus will create a precise benchmark for the country.
For a full report, please see visit this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfHQglaJ7o5DTtZNEgMQfPW6HnUxG88P3PTeL_FOCTx8V89_g/viewanalytics
The data collected via the survey are confidential, and the results of any research or analysis using the data will be presented in a way that individual respondents cannot be identified. For the purposes of analysis, we asked for some demographic data, such as batch and department affiliation to better evaluate at an aggregated level how disturbing behavior persisted or varied across departments over time. We did not use any location data, such as residence hall or home address, in our analysis. Only aggregated statistics (e.g. In year X, Y% of students of Dept. Z faced some form of harassment) from the survey is reported.
Anecdotes from victims who took the survey
Many of the victims anonymously shared their experiences, and while I want to commend their strength, I will only share some stories that I got permission to mention here.
"From the beginning I was stalked by a group of my classmates. Their plan was to ‘target’ one girl per term to make fun with and they chose me first and unluckily, for the next couple of years as well. They would stalk me, tease me directly or indirectly. Since campus was a new place for me, I felt uncomfortable to make new friends. But finally when I started mixing with others, they started making fun of my male friends. They teased my male friends about me which was also embarrassing. I couldn’t do a lot of things that I wanted to do for the rest of my undergrad life. Wherever I went, this group was there. This was a mental torture. I knew this happened to a lot of us when I saw the post. I don’t know if I am asking for too much but would it take a lot to expose all of their names who have been mentally harassing us?"
"I was in 2–2 at that time. During the class hours at campus, I started getting SMSes that’d comment on exactly what I was doing at time from an unknown number (“I love your smile” right when I was smiling; “I love your new haircut” after I got a haircut.). At the same time, at night I used to get phone calls describing what I was wearing in class that day and how the caller wanted to have sex with me. I used to feel terrified going to classes because someone is always watching me and he might cause me harm if he finds me alone. These incidents restricted my social activities at campus."
The purpose of this survey was to provide us with statistics on gender-based misconducts and harassments by batches and departments over the years and will help us present a clear picture of the situation in front of BUET authority. Several of our fellow BUETians helped to create and improve the survey and we are utterly grateful to them and their forever inspiring spirit.
I was not always interested in the workings of the Government; I assumed government is all about bureaucracy instead of creativity, where lobbying/bribing triumphs instead of the best ideas, where software developers are bound to use age-old browsers instead of the new and cutting age ones. But then again, I got hooked with the TV show Parks and Recreation, and I wanted to be the Leslie Knope of whatever I did.
From my first time voting in an election to working with the US dept. Health and Human Services to help them analyze their Medicare data for a class project, I realized it more and more why it is important for the technologists to collaborate with the government. We as technologists, scientists and engineers, cannot just sit in our lab or behind our computers feeling powerless. It’s our duty as citizens to make our voice heard. I have been involved in several initiatives that work with technical women, mentors girls to break the barriers to enter in technical fields, and faced many of the challenges one faces when they are not part of the traditional majority in a field. We can talk about the problem all day, but few initiatives can be successful without a grassroots-level change and that requires government-level involvement. I am very grateful to SWE (Society of Women Engineers) for helping us get one step closer in this mission.
Before meeting the representatives we received both research-based information and hands-on training from SWE about how we should communicate our thoughts and idea to our government representatives. As engineers we may be very good with facts and data, but when it comes to communicating effectively, such trainings can be very empowering. We learnt about the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act, and other proposals that can help remove the biases and barriers against women in STEM. During a panel discussion, we got to ask more open format questions to the congressional stuffs. We also got to hear from them about their limitations, time or budget-wise, and how they are fighting what they think is right. The good news is so can you, even from the ease of your home, follow this link to know more http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/legislative-action-center/
No wonder why I felt so energized to see so many of the representatives and elected government officials were ready to hear from us in this Congressional Outreach event. But above all, what resonated the most with me is the shared experience with women engineers who attended the event from around many states from the US, and from various engineering fields. I spoke with women engineers working in mechanical, chemical, civil, aerospace fields, from Maryland, Texas, California, Michigan, and so on! Oh, I also got to meet some fellow “Parks and Recs” fan who are as much excited to be part of the change we wish to see in the world!
Event details: SWE: Congressional Outreach Program 2019 https://alltogether.swe.org/2019/01/registration-open-for-swes-congressional-outreach-event-in-dc/
Top-Left: Me Posing.