Sexual harassment has been a consistent problem in workplaces for many years, but it seems that attitudes may be beginning to change.
A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that sexual harassment is decreasing in workplaces, but gender based discrimination is still a consistent issue.
Women are less likely to be sexually harassed at work but other serious issues remain
An associate professor who was in charge of the study says that widespread use of social media to increase awareness and condemn illegal practices by employers may have led to a large scale change in attitudes. She also believes it is important that workers feel safe talking about and reporting these workplace issues, based on the data from the study group.
The researchers conducted the study by interviewing more than 500 women over the course of about two years. The main topics that were discussed were women in leadership and workplace problems that emerged for women. A majority of the women brought up the issue of sexual harassment on their own, which highlighted the fact that this is an important workplace issue.
The study focused on a number of specific issues, such as unwanted sexual attention, bribes in return for various favors, sexist remarks, gender harassment, and overall self-esteem. Over the two year period, researchers found that the self-esteem of the women increased, but the amount of gender harassment in workplaces increased as well. There may be a broad backlash in the form of hostility towards women in the workplace as a result of recent social movements that targeted sexual harassment and related issues. This may be due to fear of loss of power from groups that have traditionally held authority in workplaces.
A director of a local center for sexual assault victims says she believes that women are experiencing more overt forms of hate as attention is brought to larger social issues that have previously marginalized women. Many individuals who are in leadership positions in workplaces may feel more threatened than in previous times. They were used to not being held accountable for the last several decades. She also claims that many men are complicit in this process, because they do not report or discuss problematic behavior when they see it, and often simply ignore it.
Illegal workplace conduct
Any form of harassment or discrimination based on gender is illegal. Employers who do not take these issues seriously and fail to create a safe environment for employees can be held accountable through lawsuits and other means.
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