Editor’s note: This article is the second in a series on the issue of workplace sexual harassment. Read the first article here.
As we consider the severity of the issue of sexual harassment, we must examine the response of victims and the resulting outcomes. According to Heather McLaughlin, an assistant professor of sociology at Oklahoma State University, “a really large percentage of women quit their jobs” in response to harassment. In fact, she found that for those who experienced severe sexual harassment, it was 80 percent.
What about those who stayed? Her research provides some disturbing findings: “For those who stayed, challenging toxic workplace cultures also had costs.” And, for those who do report it, the outcomes are bleak. Eighty percent found that nothing changed and 16 percent reported that things got worse. Even for women who were not harassed directly, standing up against harmful work environments resulted in ostracism and career stagnation. By ignoring women’s concerns and pushing them out, organizational cultures that give rise to harassment remain unchallenged.
Women aren’t the only victims
This is not an issue that only affects women. In fact, nearly 17 percent of the charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 were from men. A recent study highlighted in the article “What Is the Link Between Sex and Power in Sexual Harassment?” states that “the corrupting effects of power operate the same for men and women.” The research also found that “newly felt authority increases harassment tendencies among people who had been feeling low in power over a previous extended period, whether male or female.” The inference is that when people (both men and women) find themselves in new positions of power,...
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