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Sexual harassment. The Struggles of Women in the Workplace. Focus Your Thoughts . . . What is ‘sexual harassment’? I ntimidation , bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors

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sexual harassment

Sexual harassment

The Struggles of Women in the Workplace

focus your thoughts
Focus Your Thoughts . . .
  • What is ‘sexual harassment’?
    • Intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors
  • How many women are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace each year?
    • Between 40% - 70% of women say they’ve been sexually harassed
    • 31% of women in the workforce say they’ve been sexually harassed; this represents nearly a third of female employees
  • What legislation – if any - exists to protect women from sexual harassment at work?
    • Title VII
sexual harassment statistics
Sexual Harassment Statistics
  • 31% of the female workers claimed to have been harassed at work
  • 7% of the male workers claimed to have been harassed at work
  • 62% of targets took no action
    • Many women who are subjected to sexual harassment fear their harrasser will retailate
      • Retaliation occurs when an employee suffers a negative action after she has made a report of sexual harassment, filed a grievance, assisted someone else with a complaint, or participated in discrimination prevention activities.
      • Negative actions can include being fired, demotion, suspension, denial of promotion, poor evaluation, unfavorable job re-assignment—any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.
  • 100% of women claimed the harasser was a man
  • 59% of men claimed the harasser was a woman
  • 41% of men claimed the harasser was another man
sexual harassment statistics1
Sexual Harassment Statistics
  • Of the women who’ve been harassed:
    • 43% were harassed by a supervisor
    • 27% were harassed by an employee senior to them
    • 19% were harassed by a coworker at their level
    • 8% were harassed by a junior employee
the history of sexual harassment
The History of Sexual Harassment
  • Women in larger and larger numbers are pursuing independence through education and employment
  • Having more women in the workforce, especially women in predominantly male professions, creates more opportunities for harassment
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
    • Prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, nationalorigin or religion.
      • 1976: Williams v Saxbe – Established sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination
      • 1980: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Issued regulations defining sexual harassment and stating it was a form of sex discrimination
      • 1986: Meritor Savings Bank v Vinson – First case in which the Supreme Court recognized “sexual harassment” as a violation of Title VII
      • 1991: Ellison v Brady – The first class action lawsuit dealing with sexual harassment
harassment situations
Harassment Situations
  • The harasser can be anyone, such as a client, a co-worker, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger.
  • The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behavior offensive and is affected by it.
  • While adverse effects on the victim are common, this does not have to be the case for the behavior to be unlawful.
  • The victim can be any gender. The harasser can be any gender.
  • The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser may be completely unaware that his or her behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment or may be completely unaware that his or her actions could be unlawful. Adapted from the U.S. EEOC definition
  • Misunderstanding between Female-Male Communication: It can result from a situation where one thinks he/she is making themselves clear, but he/she is not understood the way he/she intended. The misunderstanding can either be reasonable or unreasonable. An example of unreasonable is when a man holds a certain stereotypical view of a woman such that he did not understand the woman’s explicit message to stop.(Heyman, 1994)
harassment v bullying
Harassment v Bullying

Sexual Harassment

Inappropriate Conduct

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Other verbal, electronic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that:
    • Affects an individuals’ employment
    • Unreasonably interferes with her work performance
    • Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
  • Bantering/teasing
  • Verbal abuse and profanity
  • Humiliation, constant criticism
  • Gossip
  • Aggressive e-mails or notes
  • Sabotage of career/financial status
  • Personal and professional denigration
  • Threats

One of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behavior, and is often difficult for the recipient to describe to themselves, and to others, exactly what they are experiencing.

types of harassment
Types of Harassment
  • Power-player - Legally termed "quid pro quo" harassment, these harassers insist on sexual favors in exchange for benefits they can dispense because of their positions in hierarchies: getting or keeping a job, favorable grades, recommendations, credentials, projects, promotion, orders, and other types of opportunities.
  • Mother/Father Figure(a.k.a. The Counselor-Helper) - These harassers will try to create mentor-like relationships with their targets, all the while masking their sexual intentions with pretenses towards personal, professional, or academic attention.
  • One-of-the-Gang - harassment occurs when groups of men or women embarrass others with lewd comments, physical evaluations, or other unwanted sexual attention. Harassers may act individually in order to belong or impress the others, or groups may gang up on a particular target.
types of harassment1
Types of Harassment
  • Serial Harasser - Harassers of this type carefully build up an image so that people would find it hard to believe they would do anyone any harm. They plan their approaches carefully, and strike in private so that it is their word against that of their victims.
  • Groper - Whenever the opportunity presents itself, these harassers' eyes and hands begin to wander, engaging in unwanted physical contact that may start innocuous but lead to worse.
types of harassment2
Types of Harassment
  • Opportunist - Opportunist use physical settings and circumstances, or infrequently occurring opportunities, to mask premeditated or intentional sexual behavior towards targets. This will often involve changing the environment in order to minimize inhibitory effects of the workplace or school or taking advantage of physical tasks to 'accidentally' grope a target.
  • Bully - In this case, sexual harassment is used to punish the victim for some transgression, such as rejection of the harasser's interest or advances, or making the harasser feel insecure about himself or herself or his or her abilities. The bully uses sexual harassment to put the victim in his or her "proper place."
  • Confidante - Harassers of this type approach subordinates, or students, as equals or friends, sharing about their own life experiences and difficulties, sharing stories to win admiration and sympathy, and inviting subordinates to share theirs so as to make them feel valued and trusted. Soon these relationships move into an intimate domain.
types of harassment3
Types of Harassment
  • Situational Harasser - Harassing behavior begins when the perpetrator endures a traumatic event (psychological), or begins to experience very stressful life situations, such as psychological or medical problems, marital problems, or divorce. The harassment will usually stop if the situation changes or the pressures are removed.
  • Pest - This is the stereotypical "won't take 'no' for an answer" harasser who persists in hounding a target for attention
types of harassment4
Types of Harassment
  • Great Gallant - This mostly verbal harassment involves excessive compliments and personal comments that focus on appearance and gender, and are out of place or embarrassing to the recipient. Such comments are sometimes accompanied by leering looks.
  • Intellectual Seducer - Most often found in educational settings, these harassers will try to use their knowledge and skills as an avenue to gain access to students, or information about students, for sexual purposes. They may require students participate in exercises or "studies" that reveal information about their sexual experiences, preferences, and habits.
types of harassment5
Types of Harassment
  • Incompetent - These are socially inept individuals who desire the attentions of their targets, who do not reciprocate these feelings. They may display a sense of entitlement, believing their targets should feel flattered by their attentions. When rejected, this type of harasser may use bullying methods as a form of revenge.
  • Stalking - Persistent watching, following, contacting or observing of an individual, sometimes motivated by what the stalker believes to be love, or by sexual obsession, or by anger and hostility.
  • Unintentional - Acts or comments of a sexual nature, not intended to harass, can constitute sexual harassment if another person feels uncomfortable with such subjects.
effects of sexual harassment
Effects of Sexual Harassment
  • Decreased work or school performance; increased absenteeism
  • Loss of job or career, loss of income
  • Having to drop courses, change academic plans, or leave school (loss of tuition)
  • Having one's personal life offered up for public scrutiny—the victim becomes the "accused," and his or her dress, lifestyle, and private life will often come under attack. (Note: this rarely occurs for the perpetrator.)
  • Being objectified and humiliated by scrutiny and gossip
  • Becoming publicly sexualized (i.e. groups of people "evaluate" the victim to establish if he or she is "worth" the sexual attention or the risk to the harasser's career)
  • Defamation of character and reputation
  • Loss of trust in environments similar to where the harassment occurred
  • Loss of trust in the types of people that occupy similar positions as the harasser or his or her colleagues
  • Extreme stress upon relationships with significant others, sometimes resulting in divorce; extreme stress on peer relationships, or relationships with colleagues
  • Weakening of support network, or being ostracized from professional or academic circles (friends, colleagues, or family may distance themselves from the victim, or shun him or her altogether)
  • Having to relocate to another city, another job, or another school
  • Loss of references/recommendations
psychological effects of sexual harassment
Psychological Effects of Sexual Harassment
  • While most harassment is merely deemed ‘annoying’, in some instances, harassment can escalate to the point that it causes psychological problems for the victim
    • Depression
    • Anxiety/panic attacks
    • Sleeplessness/nightmares
    • Shame/guilt
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue/loss of motivation
    • Stomach problems
    • Eating disorders (weight loss or weight gain)
    • Alcoholism
    • Feelings of betrayal, powerlessness, and/or anger
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Loss of confidence and/or self-esteem
    • Withdrawal/isolation
    • Loss of trust
    • Stress/PTSD
    • Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts