US women worried about workplace sexual harassment

16 Nov

Two-thirds of women (69%) in the US say that workplace sexual harassment is a problem, according to a poll by ABC News/Washington Post.

One in four women has experienced sexual harassment, as has one in 10 men. However, a quarter of men say they fear being false accused of sexually harassing a woman – and 10% think they may have said or done things that could be construed as workplace sexual harassment (though this is down from 25% in 1994).

Sexual harassment is hitting the headlines in the US because of the allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, but it’s a subject that resonates more widely than just political circles.

I wonder just how rife sexual harassment is in the workplace, and where the boundaries are really drawn. Among the four in 10 who experienced harassment but didn’t report it, it was because they feared the consequences of reporting it, or thought it wouldn’t make things any better. Just over half of women (56%) thought that reporting harassment would be handled fairly.

Accusations of sexual harassment don’t always go in the accuser’s favour, as we have seen with the case of Captain Ibrahim Nadim in the UK, whose female employee’s claims of sexual harassment were dismissed by the judge as “opportunistic”.

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