Nearly one in five Americans have been victims of sexual harassment at work.
According to a poll conducted by CNBC, “19 percent of American adults said they have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Women Are Most Often Victims, but Men Experience Harassment, Too
The poll was conducted between December 10 to 13, a time when the viral #metoo movement was gaining prominence, a movement that demonstrated the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in all aspect of society, but particularly in the workplace. The majority of stories shared with the #metoo hashtag were told by women – including celebrities Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Salma Hayek – but many stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted were told by men, including former NFL player and actor Terry Crews.
Indeed, the CNBC poll found that 27 percent of women reported being sexually harassed or assaulted at work, but so did 10 percent of men.
Ten percent may actually be too low to be accurate. As reported by The Washington Post, “Nearly one in five — about 17 percent — of complaints filed with the (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) come from men, a rate that has remained relatively consistent over the past decade.”
Fewer Millennials Experience Harassment
The poll also grouped respondents by age, and – in a promising sign for change in the future – 16 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds – millennials – said they had been victims of sexual harassment or assault at work, compared to 25 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds.
When CNBC looked at age groups among women only, they found that while 39 percent of baby boomer women reported sexual harassment or assault at work, a much smaller 25 percent of millennial women reported the same.
While 39 percent of baby boomer women reported sexual harassment or assault at work, a much smaller 25 percent of millennial women reported the same.
“One explanation for the generational differences could be because boomer and Gen X women have been in the workforce longer and so have had more years to potentially be exposed to harassment than their millennial co-workers. But it could be because, as Roberts suggests, older women worked in a different era and workplace environment, when sexual harassment may have been more common.”
It’s possible that sexual harassment – and perhaps even sexual assault – at work was more common and even more accepted in the past. But, with any luck, cultural attitudes have shifted with younger generations, and behavior that was once seen as acceptable – or even inevitable – is no longer tolerable, to the point it is illegal.
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