Let’s talk about sexual harassment at work. Namely, let’s talk about the fact that it happens, well, a lot. And not just just in Hollywood with media moguls like Harvey Weinstein.
In February, ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a now-viral blog post about being harassed at work, sparking widespread criticism of the ridesharing company’s policies, practices, and general workplace culture. A month later, engineer AJ Vandermeyden accused Tesla of failing to properly investigate her complaints of “pervasive harassment” and misogyny within the company.
In April, Bill O’Reilly left Fox News after the New York Times revealed that five women sued O’Reilly for sexual harassment “or other inappropriate behavior.” This came less than a year after a separate sexual harassment scandal ousted the late Roger Ailes as Fox News chairman.
These high-profile cases were catalysts that pushed sexual harassment, a pervasive problem stretching across industries and rungs on the ladder, into the public eye.
Not that, truth be told, we need expansive media coverage to know sexual harassment exists. Ask any woman you’ve ever met if she or someone she knows was ever harassed at work, and it’s far more likely than not her answer will be a hard yes (or “Me Too”).
Sexual harassment is particularly prevalent in certain industries (but is a serious problem everywhere). According to a study surveying more than 200 women working for major tech firms, 87 percent claim male colleagues made or regularly make demeaning comments toward them, with 60 percent having received unwanted sexual advances. One in three women in the survey report feeling unsafe at work or a work event.
Take a moment for that to sink in — nearly nine out of every 10 women in the tech industry survey said they have received harassing comments from a coworker.
Of course, men also experience sexual harassment at work, though stats show women are harassed far more frequently. In 2016, women filed 83.4 percent of work-related sexual harassment claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), compared to the 16.6 percent filed by male employees. That means four out of every five claims are made by women.
Reporting harassment can be a scary and fraught experience, especially if you believe doing so could impact you professionally.
If you believe someone at work may be harassing you, here’s what you should do: