Sexual harassment is a type of sexual discrimination in the workplace. It includes undesirable sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and sexual behavior that is directed toward a person because of femininity or masculinity. Sexual harassment is a colossal problem in the office. Every year, tens of thousands of females and several thousand males come forward to report their experiences to their employers and federal and state agencies.
A few file lawsuits to recover their losses. Until recently, the law treated sexual harassment as a personal problem in the workplace. However, sexual harassment is a very serious form of employment discrimination, suffered mostly by women. Even after laws prohibiting harassment were in place, there was no real enforcement until the 1970s, when early surveys began to reveal the widespread nature of sexual harassment in the workplace. Anita hill’s testimony before congress in 1991 opened the doors of justice to the tens of thousands of women and several thousand men who later came forward to complain of sexual harassment in their workplaces. Even with increased sensitivity, complaints of sexual harassment in workplaces have continued to climb unacceptably over the last decade, more than tripling (according to federal statistics). Today, we know that sexual harassment costs hundreds of millions of dollars in job opportunities.
A zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment is truly needed. High levels of sexual harassment exist when there are a low number of women in the workplace. In fact, the women in jobs that are nontraditional for women are more likely to be sexually harassed. Indeed, high numbers of female doctors and investment bankers have reported sexual harassment. When women do break into these fields and are successful, men may feel threatened by the entry of females. Sexual harassment is one way to put down a woman, to keep her in her place, and to increase the feeling of power by the harasser.
If the woman becomes frustrated enough, she may begin to make mistakes, get stick, be absent from work, or fail to carry out the job, leaving the harasser with the satisfaction of knowing that women just cannot make it in a man’s world. When few female workers are present in a workplace, they are singled out for scrutiny and are the focus of attention for the rumor mill. When these workers make a mistake on the job, it typically causes responses from the men who comprise the majority group. Mistakes that would be minor if a male worker committed them become perceived as much worse when one of the few female workers commits them.
Another factor that contributes to sex stereotyping is the climate of the workplace. For example, when profanities are common in the workplace, women are three times more likely to be treated as sex objects than where profanity is not tolerated. When sexual joking is common in a work environment, stereotyping of women as sex objects is three to seven times more likely to occur. These workplace are also more dangerous for women. In summary, sexual harassment is never acceptable. Do not tolerate it any longer.