Campus Reporters

Sexual Harassment in the Labour Market

Special lectures series on gender inequality.

As part of a series on gender equality, the impressively talented Johanna Rickne from Sweden gave an extremely informative lecture on the challenges of sexual harassment in endangering equality in the workplace.

The psychological definition of sexual harassment is, “unwanted sex-related behaviour at work”.

Although Rickne points out that there is a clear gender divide in the rate of sexual harassment, it is still imperative to acknowledge that both men and women face sexual harassment. We must all be aware of this pressing issue, especially for when we leave University. 

“20% higher amongst women who hold supervisory positions than women that don’t”

She starts by assessing theoretical predictions and praises ‘Gender Role Theory’ in explaining sexual harassment, which states that men or women breaking gender norms in the workplace are more likely to experience sexual harassment. She uses the example of a woman entering the field of carpentry – an act which threatens the male identity and creates an incentive to behave badly towards her. This works vice-versa for men and women.

Rickne uses this research to contradict the assumption that power roles are the cause of sexual harassment:

She highlights that there is a greater level of sexual harassment against women who are in managerial and supervisory roles. She offers the same explanation that they break gender norms and are exposed to higher level people in the firm, which increases the likelihood of sexual harassment.

“The lecture certainly left the audience feeling incentivised and impassioned to end sexual harassment and bridge the alarming pay-gap between men and women”

For both men and women, occupation also has an effect. For women, entering male-dominated fields such as engineering, architecture and academia made them more vulnerable. For men, entering female-dominated fields had the same effect, including nursing, primary schools and libraries.

A stress was placed on job switching, which as Rickne explains has a direct effect on the gender pay gap. Her findings demonstrated that women who switched jobs as a result of sexual harassment were more likely to move to a more female-dominated sphere and thus earn less. This, overall, maintains occupational segregation and widens the gender pay gap.

The lecture certainly left the audience feeling incentivised and impassioned to end sexual harassment and bridge the alarming pay-gap between men and women.

Isobel Billington

Featured image courtesy of via UoNEconomics via Facebook.

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