Being at the top offers no protection for women

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2023 | Employee Rights |

When people talk about sexual harassment in the workplace, the stereotypical image that may come to mind is the older, male boss chasing a young, female secretary around the desk. Sexual harassment is, after all, more about power than anything else (including sex).

Unfortunately, studies have shown that women aren’t safe in the workplace even when they’re the ones who seem to have the power. Studies have shown that women in supervisory positions are anywhere from 30% to 100% more likely to be victimized than women employees who are not.

What’s behind the phenomenon?

There are several theories as to why this happens. These include:

  • The traditional power structure is threatened. Researchers have noted the situation is worse for women supervisors in traditionally male-dominated fields. These women may become targets for some people who are resistant to the idea that women can be bosses as a way to reassert their dominance and control.
  • Anger over perceived favoritism. It sounds completely archaic, but there are people out there who don’t believe that women are ever as competent as men. They assume that any woman in authority is either there through some sort of diversification initiative or through her personal (possibly sexual) relationship with someone else even higher up.
  • Double standards. The studies also show that women supervisors who take action against their harassers are penalized both professionally and socially. They may be accused of being “weak” or unable to “handle” their male crews or employees. Those inclined to harass them may capitalize on that fact, knowing that a female supervisor has a lot to lose if they speak out.

Ultimately, whether or not a woman (or anyone else) experiences sexual harassment at work depends a lot on the culture the company has created or allowed to develop. Companies that actively try to stamp out gender-based discrimination and don’t hide from accountability are less likely to have environments where women employees are targeted.

If you’ve experienced sexual harassment at your place of employment, it may be time to find out more about your legal rights. Seeking legal guidance can provide you with the clarity and context you need to make an informed decision about your options.

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