Studies look at workplace sexism, sexual harassment

Women in New York might be facing more sexism in the workplace overall even though they may be encountering less sexual harassment than they were just a few years earlier. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado interviewed more than 500 women around the country in September 2016 and again in September 2018. In that time, the percentage who said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention in the workplace dropped from 66% to 25%. However, in 2018, 93% of women said they experienced sexism compared to 76% in 2016.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission experienced a 14% rise in sexual harassment complaints from 2017 to 2018, but this does not necessarily mean that more women were sexually harassed. One attorney with the EEOC estimates that only 15% to 20% of sexual harassment cases are reported, so the rise could indicate that more women are comfortable reporting harassment as a result of the #MeToo movement.

Another study found that #MeToo did affect how companies are handling sexual harassment. More than half reviewed their policies around sexual harassment according to the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, and among those, 72% revised those policies. One in five companies said that since #MeToo, the workplace was more respectful.

Many women still worry about the effect that reporting sexual harassment may have on their careers. People who are facing sexual harassment at work might want to consult an attorney to discuss the situation. The attorney might suggest that the person document the incidents and go through the channels at work that are set up to deal with workplace sexual harassment. The person should be able to expect confidentiality and that the company will look into the allegations. If this does not happen or the person faces retaliation, the filing of a lawsuit might be advisable.

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