Do not give Dick Malott the stage or any awards at ABAInternational

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At this point, many of you have heard about the recent incident at the California Association for Behavior Analysis conference this previous weekend. I am referring to the incident in which professor Dick Malott made several inflammatory comments regarding women in the field of behavior analysis, as well as racially insulting comments. The fact that this has not yet been formally addressed by the appropriate organizations is astounding and disheartening. We do acknowledge and appreciate the California Association for Behavior Analysis for acting quickly and responding appropriately in the moment by not allowing Dr. Malott’s behavior to continue unnoticed. Professor Malott did seem to have the good sense (or was strongly encouraged ) to apologize for his comments over the weekend; however, the brief apology was insulting at best, by suggesting that this was merely a lapse in judgment and not representative of his character.

We disagree.

Unfortunately, this was not the first such incident from professor Malott. He routinely posts similarly insulting commentary on his social media, without any apparent repercussions whatsoever. Furthermore, we do not believe this is an isolated incident or individual. We believe that Dr. Malott’s behavior is representative of an epidemic within the field of behavior analysis. For a primarily female-dominated field, there is a stunning under-representation of women, minorities, and individuals of color in leadership. While not news to us, leadership may be surprised to learn that since bringing attention to Dr. Malott’s behavior on social media, we have been inundated by countless women reporting their own stories of discrimination and harassment. Many of them have opted to never publically come forward due to fear of repercussions, personal and professional.

More alarming, perhaps, are the large number of behavior analysts, students, and professionals who have become accustomed to this behavior because they view this as commonplace, or they are afraid to speak up. In recent conversation with a respected colleague, she was disgusted but unsurprised by the recent events. She recounted that in her experience, this type of behavior is “typical” in our field. And that in fact, [Professor name omitted] used to say things like that in class all the time when she was studying with him. This is but one example of hundreds.

Let me be perfectly clear. This is NOT ethical behavior. NONE OF THIS represents respect for the dignity of individuals. None of this “promotes an ethical culture in the work environment”. This behavior is NOT consistent with “not knowingly engag[ing] in behavior that is harassing or demeaning to persons … based on factors such as those persons’ age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status” (Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts,1.05d).

So, in the now famous words of Emma Gonzalez:

We are calling BS.

Time. Is. Up.

This is completely unacceptable and we are calling for change. We will no longer be silent. We will no longer be satisfied with placating apologies. We demand acknowledgement of the horrifying epidemic of sexism, racism, discrimination and harassment in our field. We demand equal representation of women and minorities in positions of leadership. We demand that Dr. Malott be disciplined accordingly, and that his brief apology is deemed unacceptable to “give him a pass” to continue practicing in this field while engaging in this appalling behavior. We would advocate for ABAI and other professional organizations not to allow professor Malott (or others documented to make similar inflammatory comments) to make keynote presentations or receive honors at their conferences. 

Dr. Malott should NOT receive any awards at ABAI, nor be invited to speak.

We demand adherence to the code of ethics and responsible conduct by the leaders in our field. We demand respect.

We demand change.