Sexual Harassment in Workplaces
Sexual harassment amongst women in their work places happens to be an extremely sensitive topic in that the majority of women tend to shy away from talking about this subject (Cooper, 2010). However, in reality, most women suffer in silent since they happen to be victims of these heinous acts. Unfortunately, those who go through this experience do not take any action such as reporting the matter to the authorities in the pretext of avoiding scandals for themselves, as well as their families, while others keep silent in order to avoid losing their jobs (Cooper, 2010). For this reason, I decided to do a survey on this matter so as to bring to light intensity of this matter.
The literature concerning survey methodologies on sexual harassment observes differentiation in the probable incidence according to the manner in which respondents got questioned regarding their ordeals (Cooper, 2010). Asking respondents if they have gone through sexual harassment on the basis of giving a legal definition of the term sexual harassment tend to be daunting thereby requiring the respondent to have a judgment on the types of behaviors, which a lawyer or court might consider as constituting sexual harassment. Moreover, this also depends on the views of the respondent on what sexual harassment might or might not be, instead of simply whether they have gone through certain forms of unwelcome behavior (Cooper, 2010). Therefore, questions whose basis happens to be a definition of sexual harassment are capable of under-reporting of the occurrence of sexual harassment, since the majority of people has remarkably narrow view of what makes up sexual harassment. Therefore, the questions asked during this survey had to be clear in order to get the appropriate answers (Cooper, 2010).
The questions that the respondents were asked are in the table below.
Questions asked in the telephone survey
Personal ordeal of sexual harassment on the basis of the above description, witnessing sexual harassment, ideal source of information concerning sexual harassment
The place where sexual harassment took place
Those who went through sexual harassment within their workplaces in the past one year and one or even more sexual harassment behaviors within their workplace in the past five years.
Personal ordeals of certain sexual harassment behaviors (i.e. those who did not go through workplace sexual harassment, on the basis of the above description in the past five years)
How many reported this experience to the authorities, if not why
According to the telephone survey that I took in New Jersey, two in every five female respondents have gone through sexual harassment at their workplace (Cooper, 2010). The survey that interviewed 10 participants aged between twenty and forty from two different companies found out that two participants from each company turned out to be a victim of this atrocity. Sexual harassment in this survey was a term used to describe leering, getting incongruously close, sending emails or text messages with sexual content, inappropriate behavior like obscene signals or flashing, kissing, hugging and even rape (Cooper, 2010). However, in spite of the large number of victims, the majority of them opt to stay silent concerning their experiences or leave their places of work rather than reporting them or undertaking legal action on their attackers. According to these victims, lack of support structures, as well as difficulties in collecting evidence, plays a key role in this decision. Although 50 percent of those who got victimized took up issue with their harassers, only 25 percent, reported to the manager about the person. Unfortunately, none of them reported to the police or even took any civil legal action (Cooper, 2010). On the contrary, 80 percent of those respondents who had never gone through harassment asserted that they thought if sexual harassment happened to them, they would caution their harassers, while 65 percent claimed they would report or even sue the harasser (Cooper, 2010).
Apparently, the main reason given why the victims as why they do not report these incidents is that they have concerns about negative outcome from doing so, for instance being the topic of gossip, getting forced to abscond their jobs or even getting less payment or getting downgraded in cases whereby their harassers turn out to be powerful in their places of work (Cooper, 2010). As a result, 50 percent of the victims decided to keep this as a secret while 25 percent disclosed this incident to their mothers and the other 25 percent revealed this incident to a particularly close friend. Even so, those who disclosed the incident to people close to them declined to report the matter to the authorities despite much convincing from their relations (Cooper, 2010). The survey also revealed that only 25 percent of the victims knew where to turn to after getting harassed while 50 percent said that there was no reporting mechanism in their place of work. Amazingly, all the respondents that 100 percent of those surveyed claimed that they would like to see their employers bring in enhanced supervision, as well as more appropriate reprimands for sexual harassment while 80 percent consent that it is necessary for employers to provide training programs that will educate their employees on ways of avoiding sexual harassment at their work places (Cooper, 2010).
Although there are a tremendously large number of victims of sexual harassment in workplaces, the majority of them opt to stay silent concerning their experiences or leave their places of work rather than reporting them or undertaking legal action on their attackers. They are afraid of what will become of them once their secret is out to the public; therefore, there is a need to develop support structures that will help them deal with these incidents. At the same time, employers have to enhance supervision in order to avoid these incidents and whoever gets caught in the offence, stiff penalty must befall them (Cooper, 2010).
Cooper, C. L. (2010 ). Bullying and Emotional Abuse in the Workplace: International Perspectives in Research and Practice, Second Edition. Manchester : CRC Press.