Female Managers More Likely than Office Juniors to be Sexually Harassed

Discrimination sign I found this new research about women in leadership positions from the National Institute for Mental Health in Washington  DC, which was quite surprising. It seems I had not been alone in thinking that the most low-ranking women within an organisation would be most vulnerable to sexual harassment. Well, it seems that quite the opposite is true – it is women with supervisory responsibilities who are up to 137% more likely to be harassed than junior women. As explained in by the main researcher, Heather McLauglin in the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: " When sexual harassment was first exposed as a workplace issue in the 1970s, the assumption was that women in lower positions, who were more economically vulnerable and had fewer options for walking away, were most at risk of being harassed…." Instead it would seem "Men are using harassment as a workplace equalizer, to strip women in these positions of their power, prestige in the workplace. Harassment isn't about sexual desire or wanting to establish a romantic relationship, but more about control and domination."

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  • http://whatisinterestingmetoday.blogspot.com mhairi

    Bottom line: it’s totally appalling that harassment still goes on.
    Does this take into account under-reporting? If so, it might sound weird, but I almost prefer that if it has to happen, it happens to women like me, who could feel more empowered to do something about it.
    But I’d want to know about under-reporting.

  • http://www.mooreva.co.uk Susan Moore

    I think that under-reporting by junior members of staff is definitely an issue. Several years ago whilst working in the City, junior staff were warned (by male directors) to stay away from a senior male member of staff. Only when a senior female member of staff complained, was an investigation undertaken.

  • richards

    Conspiracy theory and who is trying to strip who of power here. A bit of introspection perhaps might be in order here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rod.vanmechelen Rod Van Mechelen

    The Ellison v. Brady case, which established the uniquely female reasonable woman standard for determination of hostile environment sexual harassment, also established a uniquely male reasonable man standard when the alleged victim is a man. The 3 criteria for determining hostile environment sexual harassment are: (1) conduct of a sexual nature; (2) it is pervasive; and (3) it has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile work environment. In the eyes of 99% of straight men, a woman wearing a tight sweater or exposing a lot of cleavage or wearing a short skirt is engaging in conduct of a sexual nature. Since, if they got caught looking, it can result in disciplinary action (several years ago the Supreme Court ruled that looking for longer than 8 seconds constituted actionable “ogling”), it has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile work environment. And since most men can’t help looking, it’s pervasive. Hence, any woman who wears tight clothing or shows cleavage is, under that precedent, guilty of hostile environment sexual harassment. Yet, you don’t see men acting on that. Why? Because, despite that this culture is increasingly hateful of men, the vast majority of men still care too much for women to be that mean.