Sexual harassment at work is finally on the decline — now for the bad news
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Sexual harassment at work is finally on the decline — now for the bad news

Women report a significant drop in unwanted sexual attention at work since the #MeToo movement. Sexual harassment at work is on the decline, but sexism is rising.

That’s according to a new study from the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. Researchers polled over 500 women in September 2016 and again in September 2018. These women said harassment, like unwanted sexual attention, staring, “leering and ogling,” and fondling dropped in those two years. One-quarter of women reported unwanted sexual attention in 2018, compared to 66% in 2016. Sexual coercion dropped from 25% to 16%, but ‘There’s this myth that women falsely accuse men of harassment, and this idea can hurt women at work.’

Now for the bad news: Sexism and sexist remarks, which the study authors defined as “gender harassment,” rose over those two years. The percentage of women experiencing gender harassment rose from 76% to 93%. “These results were a little surprising,” Stefanie Johnson, one of the authors on the study and a professor at the Leeds School of Business, told MarketWatch.

The #TimesUp movement may have had a complex effect on the workplace. “The #MeToo movement could have reduced harassment, “ Johnson said. “But the opposite could have occurred as well: Women could have reported higher levels of sexual harassment because the movement may have made them more aware of what constitutes sexual harassment.”

Although the latest study showed a decline in sexual harassment at work, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 14% more sexual harassment complaints in 2018 than in 2017. But this doesn’t necessarily mean sexual harassment has increased since the #MeToo movement.

Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, senior counsel at the EEOC, estimated that only 15% to 20% of sexual harassment incidents are reported. The rise in complaints could, therefore, be a good thing, as it may indicate not a rise [More]

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