A 2015 survey from Cosmopolitan found that 1 out of every 3 women is sexually harassed in some way in the workplace. For some, this number may seem shockingly high, but it’s the reality that many women face every day at their places of work. Harassment can take on many forms, and according to Huffington Post, many women didn’t realize they were being harassed at all.
Sexual harassment is described by the American Association of University Women as “unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” This definition is quite broad, but that’s because harassment can come in many forms. We are used to seeing workplace harassment in movies and pop culture as an aggressive act, with overt grabbing or outright requests for favors. However, it can be subtle as well. It could come in a form of a subtle “compliment” that may have underlying meanings, or it might be in an email or social media message. If someone feels uncomfortable about a comment or an action that’s in any way sexual, then it constitutes sexual harassment.
According to the Huffington Post article on the survey, it seems that many women who reported being the victims of some acts of sexual harassment that were listed, also reported having never experienced sexual harassment. What this means is that sadly too many women feel like this behavior and their discomfort have become normalized for them, and they don’t realize that these actions are unacceptable.
Many women didn’t even report the harassment to their superiors. Only 29% bothered to, and a paltry 15% of those women felt that their report was handled fairly. This means that millions of women are out there every day feeling like they have no recourse to deal with the unwanted actions of male co-workers and clients.
The vast majority of the harassment was in the form of words, such as lewd comments or sexually degrading terms like “slut”. However, a full 44% said they were touched or sexually approached, and 22% received emails or texts with inappropriate sexual messages.
It seems that women who serve others are the most likely victims of this behavior. The sectors with the highest number of reported incidents were the restaurant and retail job fields, at 42% and 36% respectively. These reports are not just about co-workers, either. While 75% of the incidents were colleagues, a full 49% were clients or customers.
What these numbers show is that there is a massive culture of harassment and mistreatment of women not just in the workplace, but in everyday society as well. The women who don’t realize they are being harassed, and the men who no doubt feel as if they are doing nothing wrong, demonstrate that attitudes regarding women as sexual objects still have to improve.
If you’re in Boardman, Oregon, and you’ve felt uncomfortable with the advances or comments from a co-worker or client, call a lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment so they can give you the best advice on how you can fight for your right to be respected in the workplace.