Women experience greater sexual harassment in balanced groups

November 13th, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) Latest research clears misconceptions about women being sexually harassed only when they are a minority at the work place. A study looking at 110 groups worldwide found that women, working in evenly matched groups, were more likely to be harassed than women in predominantly male or female groups.

In these situations, they were more likely to experience taunting, patronizing, and predatory behaviours.

“Some people argue that women are more likely to be harassed when there are just a few women, (or) when they are the dominant group,” said Randy Hodson, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

“But we found that actually was not the case. Most sexual harassment occurs in situations in equally mixed gender groups.” The logic is simple: sexual harassment occurs where there is more opportunity, he added.

“There is a lot more opportunity in these groups because you have a lot of men who have contact on a regular basis with a lot of women, and that’s going to create more opportunities for sexual harassment.

“When women are less represented or when they are mainly working with other women, there is simply not as much opportunity,” he said.

Hodson and other researchers did a detailed analysis of book-length studies examining workplace culture from an array of industries, such as manufacturing, skilled trades, finance, and public administration, according to an Ohio State release.

The researchers only coded explicit examples of sexual harassment from the books, such as sexual advances or condescending comments made by supervisors or colleagues referring to women as delicate.

Workplaces ranging from less than 50 employees to more than 5,000 were included to more accurately represent the general workforce.

The results were published recently in Work and Occupations.

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