| Sexual harassment is unwelcome attention of a sexual nature and is a form of legal and social harassment. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault. (Dziech et al 1990, Boland 2002) Sexual harassment is considered a form of illegal discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying. |
The term sexual harassment was in use in women's groups in the Boston area before 1973 and appeared in discussions and a working paper at MIT by mid-1973. It has been suggested that the term "sexual harassment" was coined in 1974 at Cornell University, (Patai, pp. 17-19) but it seems likely that a kind of "zeitgeist" spread this term in the early 70's and that a number of people have (reasonably) thought they coined the concept. A major figure in helping the US to understand that harassment of a sexual nature might be illegal was Catherine MacKinnon, (see the wikipedia entry) writing in the late 1970's.
The United States Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas, and Anita Hill's testimony,helped to bring the issue of sexual harassment to national attention in the U.S. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending its managerial employees from sexual harassment charges, have become key goals of legal decision-making. In contrast, many scholars complain that sexual harassment in education remains a "forgotten secret," with educators and administrators refusing to admit the problem exists in their schools, or accept their legal and ethical responsibilities to deal with it. (Dziech, 1990)
Sexual harassment in the workplace
Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. Media and government surveys estimate the percentage of women being sexually harassed in the U.S. workplace at 40 to 60%. The European women's lobby reports that between 40 and 50% of female employees have experienced some form of sexual harassment or unwanted sexual behavior in the workplace. While the majority of sexual harassment complaints come from women, the number of complaints filed by men is rapidly increasing. In FY 2007, 16% of EEOC complaints were filed by men with 11% of claims involving men filing against female supervisors. A 2006 government study in the United Kingdom revealed that 2 out of 5 sexual harassment victims are male, with 8% percent of all sexual harassment complaints to the Equal Opportunities Commission (Britain's EEOC), coming from men. A 2007 study in Hong Kong reported that one third of sexual harassment victims are males being targeted by female supervisors. 'It affects both women and men, causing stress, health problems and financial penalties when they leave their jobs to avoid it,' said Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC.
Sexual harassment in education
A 2002 study of students in the 8th through the 11th grade by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) revealed that 83% of girls have been sexually harassed, and 78% of boys have been sexually harassed. The American Association of College Women states that sexual harassment starts as early as preschool. In their 2006 study on sexual harassment at colleges and universities, the AAUW reported that 62% of female college students and 61% of male college students report having been sexually harassed at their university, with 80% of the reported harassment being peer-to-peer. 51% of male college students admit to sexually harassing someone in college, with 22% admitting to harassing someone often or occasionally. 31% percent of female college students admitted to harassing someone in college. In a 2000 national survey conducted for the AAUW, it was reported that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse or harassment by a public school employee, such as a teacher or coach, between 1991 and 2000. In a major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students were shown to have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by school employees.In their 2002 study, the AAUW reported that 38% percent of the students were sexually harassed by teachers or school employees.
However, it is important to acknowledge that statistics do not give a complete picture of the pervasiveness of the problem as most sexual harassment situations go unreported. (Boland 2002, Dzeich 1990)
Numbers on Wiki showing that it is a problem men face, too.
The original article seems to be gone. I found 2 references on that article, luckily one posted the text in another forum:
| Men victims of sexual harrassment |
Men were more likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace than women, according to new academic research.
Behavioural scientists Dr Don Hine and Roberta Martin from the University of New England also found that men had greater difficulty coping with sexual harassment and were more likely to quit their job because of it than women.
The academics based their research on a questionnaire participants filled out anonymously that asked if they had been sexually harassed in the past year. It also asked participants to describe the type of the harassment they were subjected to. Participants were not asked the gender of the person who had harassed them.
"We found 88.7 per cent of males had experienced a form of sexual harassment in the past year compared to 82.5 per cent of females," Dr Hine said.
"What we found is that for both males and females, sexual harassment was associated with increased levels of psychological distress and decreased levels of job satisfaction," he said.
"However, sexual harassment is associated with increased intentions to quit one's jobs for males only. Men also neglect workplace tasks where females don't," Dr Hine said.
"Females may be coping better with sexual harassment in the workplace that males are but I would suggest most of the interventions put into place focus on sexual harassment of women."
Dr Hines said that women were probably more likely to discuss the harassment with their support network where men could fear ridicule if they mentioned the harassment to friends.
"I think sexual harassment of men in the workplace is something that has been overlooked," Dr Hine said.
"Sexual harassment is definitely a problem for both men and women but given our findings there should be a shift in focus to ensure men are adequately prepared to deal with this sort of stress in the workplace," said Dr Hine.
He said employees and managers of both genders also needed to be educated about what constituted sexual harassment, inappropriate comments and offensive behaviour.
The New England University research divided sexual harassment into three types.
? The first type involved being the butt of sexist jokes or the subject of inappropriate comments about physical appearance or offensive remarks about gender stereotypes.
? The second type involved unwanted sexual attention, being stared at in a way that caused discomfort, inappropriate touching and being romantically pursued despite actively discouraging the pursuer.
? The third type was the most serious and involved sexual coercion either in the form of being promised an job-related advantage in exchange for a sexual favour or being threatened in some work-related way if that sexual favour was not granted.
Dr Hine said the research found less than three per cent of participants were subjected to the most serious form of harassment and women were still more likely to be the victims than men.
The academics will present their research tomorrow at the 39th Australian Psychological Society Conference currently being held in Sydney.
Kate Southam, careerone.com.au, September 30, 2004.
| Male sexual harassment is not a joke |
It’s real and reported cases are on the rise — here’s how to handle it
“Many people mistakenly believe that harassment is limited to females,” says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, a human resource expert. “The truth is that this type of experience is just as damaging to men.”
© Roy McMahon/Corbis
By Eve Tahmincioglu
updated 9:49 a.m. ET July 10, 2007
We often talk about sexual harassment against women in the workplace but for this column I’m going to address the growing problem of sexual harassment against men in the workplace.
Are you laughing? You probably are. That’s what happened recently when I discussed the topic with friends and colleagues. Few seem to take this issue seriously.
But for quite a few men, sexual harassment is indeed becoming a serious issue, and some men are deciding not to just brush aside the unwelcome advances from women and men.
“Many people mistakenly believe that harassment is limited to females,” says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, a human resource expert. “The truth is that this type of experience is just as damaging to men.”
While the number of sexual harassment cases overall has consistently declined in the past few years, “sexual harassment filings by men have consistently increased, doubling over 15 years,” says David Grinberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.
Even though women filing charges makes up the bulk of the EEOC’s sexual harassment workload, men are becoming a bigger piece of the pie, with nearly 2000 filing charges last year.
And that’s cases that get to the EEOC. Many labor experts say men are less likely than women to speak up about such cases of harassment for fear of being mocked by coworkers, and even fewer would take the charges to a government agency and risk widespread knowledge of their plight.
Thomas, who works in academia but didn’t want his full name used, found himself in an office made up of mainly women who would routinely share and copy each other emailed jokes and emails about men. A few, he adds, “made fun of men’s unique anatomy, if you know what I mean.” The behavior, he says, made him feel isolated. When he finally addressed the matter with the women in the office, “the women were stunned, generally with a ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ kind of attitude. And they kept doing it.”
There are a host of reasons the number of men complaining about harassment may be up.
There are more female bosses in the workplace today than there were just 10 years ago; and unfortunately men don’t have a corner on the rude-behavior market.
Also, a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1998 involving a Louisiana man who claimed he was sexually harassed by his male manager while working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, made it clear that men are protected from such harassment at work under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The first ever court case involving sexual harassment of a man in the workplace was in 1995. The EEOC sued Domino Pizza after a female supervisor of a male store manager sexually harassed him and then fired him.
“She would caress his shoulders and neck, and pinched his buttocks,” the EEOC said in a statement.
The case went to trial in Tampa and the male manager was awarded $237,000 in damages.
Last year, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against a Mississippi real estate company on behalf of a man who they say was “sexually harassed and retaliated against by his female manager.” The agency said the man, a maintenance worker in an apartment complex, rebuffed sexual advances from his female manager. As a result, she began a “pattern of retaliation against him, culminating in his firing.”
And just this past February, a federal jury granted a $225,000 verdict to three men who said their manager at an Oxford, Miss., construction company sexually harassed them.
The three male employees were truck drivers and they all complained about one manager whose behavior included “sexually offensive comments and unwanted physical contact.”
The EEOC’s Birmingham regional attorney C. Emanuel Smith noted in a release about the ruling: “Some employers may view male-on-male harassment as ‘horseplay’ or ‘boys being boys’ but this kind of intentional discrimination can cause needless suffering and permanent scars for employees – not to mention creating liability issues for employers who violate federal law.”
So hopefully you’ve all stopped snickering, and realize such claims are definitely serious.
The biggest challenge for men is figuring out what to do when this happens.
Some men, says relationship psychiatrist Paul Dobransky, will deal with the harassment head on and then shrug it off; while others get all tied up in knots and feel stuck. In the latter case, things will only deteriorate and probably lead to more harassment. The key, he adds, “is to set personal boundaries.”
You should first confront the harasser. Tell them clearly and without wavering that you do not appreciates that type of behavior and you want it to stop. Don’t joke around with the individual and don’t be wishy-washy, harassers can smell fear.
If it doesn’t stop talk to your manager, but if the harasser is your manager, go above his or her head to their supervisor. Your next step if nothing is resolved is the HR office and then the EEOC if you get nowhere with that.
If you’re looking for confidentiality, don’t hold your breath, says employment attorney Michael Cohen. Once you go beyond the harasser, the company will be forced to investigate the claim and surely your name will end up the talk of the office on IM.
I would be remiss if I didn’t address another big issue — bogus sexual harassment claims. Yes, men can make those too.
Not everything is considered sexual harassment under the law. (And I’m saying this to not only men but women as well.) Just because a guy or gal asks you out doesn’t mean you’ve been harassed. And just because someone has a photo you might deem inappropriate on his or her computer, or tells an off-color joke in the office, doesn’t mean you should be running to your human resource department.
We’ve all become quite touchy in the workplace and often take what our colleagues say the wrong way. But remember, we’re working in close quarters with a mixed bag of individuals that do and say stuff we might not like.
Let’s keep this all in perspective. If a boss asks you out, say “no”. If he or she demotes or fires you, then you’ve got a serious sexual harassment claim on your hands. If a coworker or coworkers keep inundating you with sexually explicit jokes, photos, etc., and continue to do it even when you ask them to stop, you may have a case as well if you can prove they created a hostile environment for you.
Taking your case all the way to the EEOC, or even to HR isn’t the best option for everyone. If things don’t change at your job, you can always choose to move on. A place with that kind of attitude is probably bad career karma anyway.
After approaching his harassing coworkers, Thomas spoke to his bosses and someone was brought in to intercede, but no one was formally disciplined. Some behaviors ceased but others did not. “Resentment in all directions festered and over the course of a couple of years the events really blew apart the office, and most everyone was working elsewhere within a couple of years,” he adds, including himself. “I’ve moved on with a very successful career.”
| Women Harassing Men |
Complaints about women bosses preying on men have doubled since 1990. What’s going on out there?
The harassment of men at the hands of women is clearly having a moment. While the total number of sexual-harassment claims brought to the EEOC has been declining steadily over the past eight years, the percentage of allegations filed by men has doubled between 1990 and 2007, to 16 percent of all claims. Given that it’s estimated only 5 to 15 percent of incidents are even reported, and those that are remain confidential unless a lawsuit is filed — which rarely happens in cases where men are the victims, says EEOC spokesman David Grinberg — who knows how many Louis Obleas are out there, staring in horror at nude pictures of their female superiors? “Most complaints are mediated and resolved, and you’ll never hear about them,” says celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred. “You won’t even see a piece of paper.”
While it’s true that the boldest headlines still involve old-school offenders like Knicks coach Isiah Thomas — who was found guilty of harassing a female former Knicks executive (she claimed that Thomas told her he loved her, and also called her a bitch and a ho) — the more recent phenomenon of women taking lascivious liberties with men has slipped quietly into the zeitgeist. Note Lipstick Jungle’s stiletto-wearing magazine editor, Nico Reilly, getting slapped with a complaint after dumping her young lover, Kirby, a photography assistant who works with the magazine. The plotline is plausible because women finally have the power to be predators. We’ve come a long way since 1994’s Disclosure, about a female boss who tries to coerce a male employee to have sex with her, the very premise of which was considered silly at the time — the stuff of, well, Michael Douglas movies. According to New York City lawyer Ronald Green — who represented Bill O’Reilly after O’Reilly’s female producer accused him of, among many things, fantasizing over the phone about lathering her up with a loofah mitt — his big clients are now coming to him for help in defending their female executives against sexual-harassment claims. “Women are just behaving like those who came before them,” he says.
The relative newness of women in the corner office has lent an undeniable frisson to the corporate environment. Given how accustomed women are to drive-by comments and propositions, it can be thrilling when the tables turn and they’re the ones controlling the dynamic. Says a 35-year-old executive at a Massachusetts financial company, who has 37 men reporting directly to her: “There are days when I just think, You know, I could have any single one of these guys. Of course, in reality, I wouldn’t step over that line, but I know I could. And to be frank, that thought makes work far more interesting.” She admits to dressing for her male colleagues. And when hiring an assistant, damned if she didn’t choose the “totally hot” 25-year-old former professional hockey player. “If I have to look at this guy every day, why not have it be someone who makes me remember what a schoolgirl crush is?”
A clear factor in cases brought by men is the difficulty society might have believing they would be offended by a come-on. No real man rebuffs sexual attention, goes the thinking, so how can he even be sexually harassed? “It’s sort of a societal taboo. A man’s going to complain because a woman’s hitting on him? What’s wrong with him?” says Alexis McKenna, a lawyer who litigates such cases. Men simply haven’t been raised to think of themselves as potential victims — making it all the more difficult to protest. “It’s much more shameful for men to have to confront sexual harassment and admit it,” says University of Maine sociologist Amy Blackstone. “It’s something that gets joked about.”
Just ask James Stevens, a soft-spoken, devout Christian who worked for more than 15 years at a Vons supermarket in Simi Valley, CA, who claims that a coworker named Laura Marko was inappropriate with him every day for two years. “Most black men would love to have a white woman sexually harass them — that’s what I’d hear,” he says. “But I couldn’t be more repulsed. She would ask me point-blank, Do I go down on my wife? When I announced that my wife was pregnant, she suggested that if my wife had done a different act, she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant.”
Stevens finally complained, and the company transferred him. “And the first thing out of my wife’s mouth is, ‘Why are they transferring you if she was harassing you?’ In the back of her mind, she was thinking maybe I could have been harassing this woman,” he says. His coworkers thought that, too. The rumor spread. And then Vons fired him.
“It really destroyed my family,” Stevens says. “It destroyed my life.” He spent most of his days lost in a prescribed narcotic cocktail — Zyprexa and Celexa and Vicodin — and then his wife took their baby daughter and left.
Determining that Vons fired him in retaliation for his complaining about being sexually harassed, a jury awarded Stevens $18 million, one of the largest decisions of its kind. (Vons has appealed.) But when I call Laura Marko and tell her that I’m writing a story about male victims of sexual harassment, she laughs hysterically (not to mention bitterly). “It was actually the other way around,” she says. “He was just a guy waiting for an opportunity.”
Or maybe they just feel...harassed. Consider the case of former senior undercover drug detective Matt Floeter, a deeply tanned 41-year-old with bulging muscles and eyes the color of the South Florida ocean. From the day Sergeant Barbara Jones took over as the supervisor of his hard-core, paramilitary-style unit of the Orlando Police Department, she could not keep her hands to herself, he says, grabbing and hugging him and the other guys every time they passed her desk in their big, open box of an office. “She was like a kid in a candy shop,” he says. “She had a full-court press on me all the time” — even rubbing her groin against him, he says, and at least once humping his leg, just like their unit’s drug-sniffing dog, Gunney.
It’s hard to believe that this tough guy — who once shot a whacked-out dealer five times in a bust gone bad and who was commended for valor by former Attorney General John Ashcroft for doing it — would allow a woman pushing 50 to molest him. Floeter explains: “Hey, that is a sergeant, and you have got to bow down and say, ‘Yes ma’am, no ma’am,’ and you have to respect the rank.” Plus, she was personal pals with her supervisor.
And yet Floeter did complain, finally, after three months of the alleged behavior, following a closed-door meeting with Jones in which she came down on him about his poor work ethic and threatened to subpoena his phone records because he was using his cell phone while on duty for calls related to his personal business, Aqua Cops. After another argument during a unit meeting in which Jones detailed changes she was set to implement that Floeter felt would undercut his investigative work and damage his reputation, Floeter drove straight to Internal Affairs and reported her for sexual harassment. The city settled out of court with Floeter last December, for an undisclosed amount. For her part, Barbara Jones was reprimanded for conduct unbecoming an officer.
“It was horrible,” says Jones, who is now the public-information officer for the Orlando Police Department. “Especially when you didn’t do anything, but you don’t have any proof that you didn’t.”
Her explanation is simple: She was forcing the detectives to be accountable for their productivity, and they didn’t like it. “They’re all macho and aggressive and the best of the best and don’t mess with us kind of thing,” she says.
Who’s telling the truth — the befuddled woman with the sweet Southern accent, now 53, or the defiant detective who drove 260 miles on a Sunday to tell me his side of the story?
Sure, Jones had hugged her men — “in a congratulatory way,” she says. But it wasn’t anything weird. That’s how a woman shows appreciation. That’s just what a woman does. Isn’t it?
| Man handling - sexual harassment of men |
ALTHOUGH a popular success, Disclosure was derided by feminists who considered its premise--sexual harassment of a man by a woman--silly at best, dangerous at worst. After all, everyone knows sexual harassment is something a man does to a woman. That assumption is reflected in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidelines on sexual harassment, where the harasser is always a "he" and the victim a "she." You have to refer to a footnote to verify that the law, in theory, protects men as well as women.
Most of the published research on sexual harassment agrees: women are victims; men are harassers. In surveys, some 40 per cent of women report being harassed at work, compared to a negligible proportion of men. When men do report harassment, their harassers are often other men.
But these indicators may not give us an accurate picture of what is going on. To begin with, the leading sexual-harassment researchers are feminist ideologues who are mainly concerned with finding evidence of patriarchal oppression. They design their studies accordingly: most of the research does not even include male subjects.
More to the point, most men would not recognize sexual harassment if it hit them in the face. Ask a number of men if they have been harassed, and nine out of ten, will say, "No, but I'd like to be." Men generally do not consider teasing, sexual jokes, and lewd innuendoes from female co-workers harassment; they are not upset by the kinds of comments and incidents that have brought female plaintiffs millions of dollars in awards for "hostile environment" claims. In a recent lawsuit against the Jenny Craig diet organization by several male employees, one of the plaintiffs said he initially liked it when the women he worked with told him he had a nice body. He and the others did not file suit until they were denied promotions, were assigned to poor sales territories, or were terminated from the organization. After examining their complaint, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination found probable cause of gender bias in the organization's actions against the men.
Since men are not sensitive to harassing behavior that women (or at least feminists) construe as harassment, it's not surprising that they are not filing many harassment complaints. Consider a scenario. A young man gets a job as an assistant manager in a bank. His boss, a member of the National Association of Bank Women, often talks about the importance of mentoring young women and complains that men have created a glass ceiling that oppresses female managers. Her coffee mug is emblazoned with an anti-male statement. To top it off, she and the other women who work in the branch often tell dirty jokes in which men are portrayed derogatorily. There's little question that this man is the victim of a "hostile environment," one that may well interfere with his ability to perform his duties. But if you ask him whether he has been sexually harassed, he will probably say no.
To get beyond this barrier, male subjects in harassment surveys should be asked not whether they have been sexually harassed but whether certain kinds of behavior have occurred. When we ask male undergraduates if they have ever been sexually harassed by a female instructor, almost all of them say no. But when we ask if they have experienced specific types of treatment in a female instructor's classroom, such as derogatory or off-color comments about men, some 60 per cent of them report such incidents.
Yet most people still snicker about female harassment of males. Several men who claimed to have been sexually harassed appeared recently on Donahue. Between the host's eye rolling and the audience's derision, you would have thought these men were reporting encounters with UFOs. Sometimes even juries do not take the subject seriously. In a 1991 case in Michigan, the jury agreed that a man had endured repeated fondling by his female co-workers but awarded him only $100 in damages. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars regularly awarded to female plaintiffs.
Men are doubly penalized by the current alarm about sexual harassment. On the one hand, they are weakened in any office encounter with a woman because she always holds the harassment trump card. On the other hand, the current interpretation of harassment law gives women license to say and do things in the workplace to which men cannot respond in kind. There is an open hostility toward men in many workplaces, and no one is rushing to document or change it.
Business, which should have an interest in finding out the truth, has instead swallowed whole the received wisdom on sexual harassment and acted on it swiftly and thoroughly. Companies spend millions of dollars on "harassment training," hoping that putting employees through these programs will stave off potential problems or at least inoculate them against major liability. Although some of the harassment training is of passable quality (given the flawed evidence on which it is based), too much of the training results in resentment by male employees and "over-empowerment" of female employees. In a recent case, a group of male air-traffic controllers filed charges against the Federal Aviation Administration, claiming they were forced to observe photos of male sex organs and let female participants fondle them during harassment training.
Sexually harassed men face skepticism from both sides of the political spectrum. On the Left, no one is seriously challenging the anti-male feminist paradigm. On the Right, commentators have cautioned that men should not succumb to the harassment hysteria. Yet conservatives in particular should take a more active interest in setting the record straight, given the costs and public-policy ramifications of current erroneous theories.
THE current approach to sexual harassment has clearly hurt working relationships between men and women. Men are retreating to the safety of their offices, avoiding private contact with female co-workers, and carefully censoring their speech. Although the evidence has not yet been collected, it seems likely that male harassment victims, like their female counterparts, are more likely to be absent from work, to be less productive, and to leave the organization. In addition, men confronted by a sexually hostile environment may lash out against female co-workers, thereby prompting sexual-harassment complaints.
Differing male and female interpretations of harassing behavior led the federal courts to establish the "reasonable woman" standard in 1991. This codified what we have known all along: men and women see things differently. According to the ruling, behavior that a man considers acceptable can constitute harassment if it is offensive to a "reasonable woman." In other words, decades of evolving feminist theory have led us back to a Victorian vision of woman; she cannot endure what a man can and must be protected.
Most of the outcry over sexual harassment is not about bosses demanding sex but about men doing and saying things that some women find offensive. Perhaps women are behaving just as offensively, but men have learned to live with it. The real answer to the "hostile environment" problem may be that women should learn to live with it too.
| Power And Sexual Harassment -- Men And Women See Things Differently |
ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2007) — In the hands of the wrong person, power can be dangerous. That's especially the case in the workplace, where the abuse of power can lead to sexual harassment.
Issues of power, workplace culture and the interpretation of verbal and non-verbal communication associated with sexual harassment were the focus of a study by Debbie Dougherty, assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Working with a large healthcare organization in the Midwest, Dougherty examined the question: why does sexual harassment occur?
"Power," she said. "It was the common answer. It came up repeatedly. However, what I found were multiple definitions of power."
Those definitions varied by gender. [...] After being placed in discussion groups, they openly discussed sexual harassment and confirmed what some researchers have argued - sexual harassment is more about power than sex, Dougherty said. In fact, moderators never asked participants to address the issue of power.
The findings indicate that:
| Bullying More Harmful Than Sexual Harassment On The Job, Say Researchers |
ScienceDaily (Mar. 9, 2008) — Workplace bullying, such as belittling comments, persistent criticism of work and withholding resources, appears to inflict more harm on employees than sexual harassment, say researchers who presented their findings at a recent conference.
"As sexual harassment becomes less acceptable in society, organizations may be more attuned to helping victims, who may therefore find it easier to cope," said lead author M. Sandy Hershcovis, PhD, of the University of Manitoba. "In contrast, non-violent forms of workplace aggression such as incivility and bullying are not illegal, leaving victims to fend for themselves."
Hershcovis and co-author Julian Barling, PhD, of Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, reviewed 110 studies conducted over 21 years that compared the consequences of employees' experience of sexual harassment and workplace aggression. Specifically, the authors looked at the effect on job, co-worker and supervisor satisfaction, workers' stress, anger and anxiety levels as well as workers' mental and physical health. Job turnover and emotional ties to the job were also compared.
The authors distinguished among different forms of workplace aggression. Incivility included rudeness and discourteous verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Bullying included persistently criticizing employees' work; yelling; repeatedly reminding employees of mistakes; spreading gossip or lies; ignoring or excluding workers; and insulting employees' habits, attitudes or private life. Interpersonal conflict included behaviors that involved hostility, verbal aggression and angry exchanges.
Both bullying and sexual harassment can create negative work environments and unhealthy consequences for employees, but the researchers found that workplace aggression has more severe consequences. Employees who experienced bullying, incivility or interpersonal conflict were more likely to quit their jobs, have lower well-being, be less satisfied with their jobs and have less satisfying relations with their bosses than employees who were sexually harassed, the researchers found.
Furthermore, bullied employees reported more job stress, less job commitment and higher levels of anger and anxiety. No differences were found between employees experiencing either type of mistreatment on how satisfied they were with their co-workers or with their work.
"Bullying is often more subtle, and may include behaviors that do not appear obvious to others," said Hershcovis. "For instance, how does an employee report to their boss that they have been excluded from lunch? Or that they are being ignored by a coworker? The insidious nature of these behaviors makes them difficult to deal with and sanction."
From a total of 128 samples that were used, 46 included subjects who experienced sexual harassment, 86 experienced workplace aggression and six experienced both. Sample sizes ranged from 1,491 to 53,470 people. Participants ranged from 18 to 65 years old. The work aggression samples included both men and women. The sexual harassment samples examined primarily women because, Hershcovis said, past research has shown that men interpret and respond differently to the behaviors that women perceive as sexual harassment.
| Women Experience More Sexual Harassment In Work Groups With Male, Female Balance |
ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2008) — Despite common assumptions, new research suggests that women are not more likely to be sexually harassed when they are the minority or majority in a work group. Instead, researchers found that in most cases, women were sexually harassed at work when their work group had a similar proportion of males and females.
A study looking at 110 work groups from around the world found that women who work in relatively equally matched gender groups were more likely to be harassed than women who worked in predominantly male or female groups. Women in these situations were more likely to experience taunting, patronizing, and predatory behaviors.
“Some people argue that women are more likely to be harassed when there are just a few women, and other people argue that women are harassed when they are the dominant group in an occupation. But we found that actually was not the case. Most sexual harassment occurs in situations in equally mixed gender groups,” said Randy Hodson, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University.
Hodson said the logic behind the finding is simple: sexual harassment occurs where there is more opportunity.
More than one third of the work groups studied did not have any incidents of sexual harassment. But when sexual harassment was observed, it was found more often in groups with a nearly equal mixture of men and women than in groups with a lone female in a predominately male environment.
“In our research, we saw example after example of situations where women were harassed most often in groups with an equal gender composition,” said Lindsey Joyce Chamberlain, co-author of the study and doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State.
Women who had more autonomy, for example, were more likely to be the victim of every type of sexual harassment. More power in some organizations led to women being taunted, but it also opened the door for sexual solicitation, threats, and forced sexual contact. This finding in particular was completely unexpected, Chamberlain said.
“We thought more power, for women especially, would protect them from certain types of harassment. But we many women that were harassed because they were in positions with power. Women who have jobs with higher autonomy may be seen as threats to men in organizations that have been traditionally been male dominated,” she said.