DNP Allies Program

This is a description of the DNP Allies program valid for its initial three-year period. This document includes the goals of the program, the general operation of the program, and the details of the function, recruitment, and training of Allies. This document was prepared by the DNP ad-hoc Committee on Harassment Prevention: R. Gilman, R. Janssens, F. Nunes (chair), W. Rogers, R. Springer, and S. Yennello.

Goals of the DNP Allies Program

The DNP is committed to providing an inclusive space where physicists can exchange ideas and share their interests in nuclear physics, regardless of the origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity etc, of the scientist. Unfortunately, an inclusive environment for all is not easy to achieve because we all carry our personal biases and are not always aware of those behaviors that make others feel unwelcome. Contrary to what many prefer to believe, harassment happens regularly1, whether intended or unintended, and can have a strong impact on the careers of the targeted individuals2. By harassment we mean any behavior that negatively targets a person because of their country of origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. The Allies program aims to address this problem by helping reduce harassment incidences at DNP meetings and by providing an avenue for those targeted to address the issues in a timely fashion, reducing the impact harassment may have on the field of nuclear physics.

The concept of Allies is not new and, in physics alone, we already have some Allies programs in place3,4. The DNP Allies program draws together a selected group of DNP members, who are willing to be banners of the DNP’s commitment to inclusiveness. These members are appropriately trained to be effective in helping those who feel harassed. The APS also sends a representative to all its division meetings. That person is not part of the nuclear community, but serves as a point of contact for harassment reporting. The DNP Allies are members of the nuclear physics community and, as such, provide a lower threshold for those who feel harassed.

How Does the Program Work?
The DNP Allies program operates at the DNP fall meeting. The DNP meeting webpage has a link to the DNP Allies website, where a brief description of the program is provided along with a list of the active Allies (the website contains the information in this document, with photos of allies). Immediately before the meeting, these Allies undergo training so they can serve during the meeting. In the opening remarks of the meeting, the chair of the DNP announces the DNP Allies program and the Allies, explaining their function and how they can be identified. These Allies participate in the events of the DNP meeting wearing an orange scarf/armband. They are on alert for anyone who may be feeling uncomfortable, and their physical presence alone signals the desire of the DNP to make our meetings more welcoming and inclusive. Allies are available to talk to participants who believe they have experienced harassment, as well as to provide guidance on multiple options for handling the situation. In particular, Allies can help the targets identify whether their situation requires additional action, such as involving the APS representative who can determine whether further investigation is warranted. Allies are also willing to serve as escorts for participants who feel unsafe. Note that Allies are not intended to be involved in potentially dangerous situations requiring 911 assistance, and are not expected to provide legal advice. Shortly after the DNP meeting, Allies share their experiences during a conference call, maintaining confidentiality of the individuals involved, and report back to the DNP Executive Committee.

Who Manages the Allies Program?
The chair of the DNP appoints a DNP member, willing to serve as an Ally, to manage the Allies program. This appointment should be valid for three years. The DNP Allies Program Manager is responsible for communicating with the Allies, the consultants who provide the training, and the DNP Executive Committee.

Who Becomes an Ally?
For the first Allies program in Fall 2017, Allies were drawn from the DNP ad-hoc Committee on Harassment Prevention. In addition, DNP members who have been identified by the current Allies as showing a strong commitment to promoting an inclusive environment in nuclear physics are asked to respond to a questionnaire prepared by the ad-hoc Committee. After that initial screening, a 30 min Skype interview is conducted. A subset of these DNP members is then selected to participate in training at the next DNP meeting.

An invitation is sent out several months prior to the DNP meeting to those members that were selected, and those who agree to serve as Allies are asked to participate in a preliminary conference call, chaired by the Allies Program Manager, with the aim of explaining the overall context, the DNP Allies program, as well as providing general information about the training session.

There were 5 Allies at the first meeting (Pittsburg 2017), and we expect to grow this number during the 3-year trial period.

How Do We Train our Allies?
In order for the Allies program to be successful, it is critical that Allies be equipped with the right tools. For this reason, the APS has agreed to provide support for training our Allies. Any Ally serving in a given DNP meeting must undergo training at that meeting. Training takes place the morning before the start of the DNP meeting (afternoon preceding the first plenary session if the meeting starts in the morning), and is facilitated by an independent consultant hired by the APS for this specific purpose. The DNP Allies Program Manager communicates with this consultant well in advance in order to provide input about the types of issues one might expect, thus enabling the training session to be tailored to our needs. Allies may be asked to review materials prior to the face-to-face training session.

Impressions from the DNP Fall Meeting by Sara Jane

We thank the many APS members who graciously shared their stories with us. Many represent a moment of pain or confusion, and a sense of not belonging to a community they hoped would be an important part of their lives.

Before reading through the diary, please note:

  • Rather than present each story in isolation, we have chosen to collect them as though they happened to one young woman as she navigates DNP meetings.
  • Each incident related in this compendium was submitted to us as an actual personal experience.
  • Only a fraction of the stories are included in this first edition (others stories will be part of future editions).
  • All names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
We look forward to using these experiences to educate APS members on how we can create a more welcoming climate for all scientists. Next steps and more information will be provided soon based on the recent DNP workshop

Diary Entries

Wednesday 8:30am
After our registration, my advisor told me he would introduce me to this famous physicist that was standing in the lobby. I got so excited. He just looked at my name badge, nodded in recognition and said he thought I was a man. Clearly this person needs to work on his implicit bias and expand his imagination to include women physicists…

Wednesday 11:00am
At the coffee break I was just standing around and overheard this group talking about climate change. Someone questioned the hard evidence. Everyone ridiculed this person just for asking questions. But aren’t we scientists? Aren’t we supposed to be able to ask questions?

Wednesday 2:00pm
I just had lunch with a couple of female students from my University. They were telling me about their visit to X National Lab. Apparently they were stopped by an armed guard. After asking protocol questions, he told them: “some days I just want to shoot all women physicists”. He then explained it was just a joke but they couldn’t take it as such. They felt very uneasy but didn’t respond. I think they should have reported the guy. What is wrong with these people that they think joking about murdering women is ok?

Wednesday 5:00pm
I’ve been trying to talk to my advisor but every time I spot him, he seems to get busy talking to somebody else. I’ve emailed him the slides but still have not heard back. I’m stressing out with my talk! Doesn’t he remember my talk is tomorrow morning?

Wednesday 8:00pm
I just had dinner with Eric and my advisor. Food was awful and the place was noisy. My advisor set a meeting with me for 10pm tonight in the hotel, because he needed to meet with Eric first. Eric is also a grad student in our group but he is one year ahead of me. I agreed to meet at 10:00 p.m. but seriously?? I need to give a talk tomorrow and wish I could sleep…

Wednesday 11:00pm
I just met with my advisor. Instead of going over my slides, he declared he was helping me too much and his colleagues were thinking he is having an affair with me. I tried to argue that he spends more time with Eric than with me and I am less experienced as a grad student. This is my first conference! He quickly concluded the meeting saying I should just try to be more independent.

Thursday 6:00am
I woke up in the middle of the night and I could not sleep anymore. Couldn’t stop thinking about what my advisor told me. Instead of milling, I decided to practice my talk again and again. Now I am more than ready!

Friday 8:30am
I went for breakfast at Starbucks in the hotel. I saw the senior physicist that gave one of the plenary talks on Wed and one of his colleagues. They both looked very accomplished and talked quite loud. One was complaining about the pressure to invite more women as speakers and the other agreed and said: “Specially because good ones are really hard to find.” I wondered whether they had seen my talk. Were they referring to me? Perhaps women speakers are more like tokens…

Friday 2:00pm
Earlier, I was having lunch with Eric and Matt. We sat at a table with a few other students. At some point I went to the bathroom and started talking to this other women from the conference. As we were coming back to the table, what appeared to be her colleague approached us and, before introducing himself, stared at my chest and said: “I am not looking at your boobs, I’m just trying to read your name-tag”. If he is not looking at my boobs, why does he need to make this comment about my anatomy?

Friday 11:00pm
After the banquet I suggested to the people at our table that we go out and see a live band. I am NOT a dancer. I am quite simply pathologically bad at dancing. One of the physicists in the group insisted I dance with him and despite my many refusals, he finally said: “But you have to dance with one of us – you’re the only girl!” I felt so pressured that I only wanted to get away from there.

Saturday 10:00am
There was an issue with the projector so a group of us were standing outside the conference room waiting for the session to restart. One of the postdocs made strong political statements that presume only idiots would not accept his opinion. In our group, there were people from various countries, clearly with different worldviews than his. Shouldn’t he show more tolerance for the diversity of opinions in the group?

Saturday 12:00pm
I don’t think my advisor is talking to me. I can never get hold of him in the conference. I texted and tried to call him several times, but there is no answer. For two days I have wanted to let him know how my talk went… Thank goodness the meeting is over: I feel exhausted.

Improving the Allies Program

The effectiveness of the DNP Allies program depends on its detailed implementation. The program will be reviewed by an independent subcommittee (appointed by the DNP Chair) three years after the start of the program. Recommendations resulting from the subcommittee’s work will be considered by the DNP Executive Committee. This will enable continuous improvement of the DNP Allies program.


  1. Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assualt
  2. Physics Allies
  3. Social Behaviour: Indecent Advances
  4. Astronomy Allies