Training Programs and Reporting Systems Won’t End Sexual Harassment. Promoting More Women Will
“We already know how to reduce sexual harassment at work, and the answer is actually pretty simple: Hire and promote more women. Research suggests that this solution addresses two root causes of harassment.
First, as a raft of studies has shown, harassment flourishes in workplaces where men dominate in management and women have little power. We’ve recently seen this imbalance wreak havoc in the entertainment and media industries, where it’s long been understood that major players like movie producer Harvey Weinstein and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes could easily make or break women’s careers. But this is also happening across the economy, with women in tech and law, saleswomen (particularly in retail), waitresses, hotel maids, and many others. Male-dominated management teams have been found to tolerate, sanction, or even expect sexualized treatment of workers, which can lead to a culture of complicity. People may chuckle over misbehavior rather than calling it out, for example, or they may ostracize harassed women, privately ashamed of not having spoken up. Reducing power differentials can help, not only because women are less likely than men to harass but also because their presence in management can change workplace culture.
Second, harassment flourishes in organizations where few women hold the “core” jobs. Fixing this is about finding power in numbers, not just in authority and hierarchy. Female firefighters, police officers, construction workers, and miners are frequently harassed because they’re outnumbered. So are women in the tech industry, advertising, journalism, and our own field — academia. Again, the answer is to bring more of them into the ranks. In industries and workplaces where women are well represented in the core jobs, harassment is significantly less likely to occur.”