Sexual Harassment Study
A study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University sheds some light on patterns of sexual harassment in the workplace. One key finding was that women are more likely to be sexually harassed when working in a group that has an equal number of men and women in it than when they were the minority in a work group of men.
The study, included:
- 110 work groups
- A range of companies (number of employees ranging from 50 to 5,000)
- A wide range of work areas (including manufacturing, skilled trades, finance, and public administration)
The most surprising finding was that women who worked with men in “relatively equally matched gender groups” were more likely to be harassed than women who worked in all male groups or all female groups. One researcher stated that the logic behind the finding was simple: sexual harassment occurs where there is more opportunity and when there are more women and men together in one place, there is more opportunity. The study also found that:
- Two thirds of the work groups studied had incidents of sexual harassment.
- 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.
- The characteristics of a person’s job also influenced the likelihood and type of harassment.
- Women who had more autonomy or power in their position were more likely to be the victim of every type of sexual harassment (sexual solicitation, threats, and forced sexual contact).
- Women were well protected from overt harassment, and less protected from taunting and patronizing from male coworkers.
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