Californians and people across the U.S. who spoke out against sexual harassment in the workplace and took part in the social media #MeToo movement were found to have been successful in reducing the number of incidents in which harassment took place. However, simultaneous to the reduction in sexual harassment came a rise in gender harassment.
A survey showed that sexual harassment reduced substantially from 2016 to 2018. This coincided with the #MeToo movement. There were 500 women who took part in the survey. 87% stated they were sexually harassed at some point in their working life. However, in that two-year period, there was a reduction in incidents. Researchers suggest that the lowering of these incidents could be due to wariness in behaving inappropriately for fear of being sanctioned for it. People are also showing a greater willingness to speak about against harassment.
Those who took part in the survey were between the ages of 25 and 45. They averaged a decade in the workplace and were midlevel at their job. The behaviors that constitute sexual harassment include attempts to coerce the women into sexual relationships, requests that the women perform sexual favors and hostility in the workplace. This drop is believed to be partially due to potential perpetrators of harassment acting warily, normalizing the discussion of this issue, and due to women feeling confident in reporting such acts, compared to years before when women feared repercussions for reporting sexual harassment or who feared the advances were there fault or that they wouldn’t be taken seriously if they spoke out.
The downswing in sexual harassment, however, has led to unwanted and unexpected consequences. Men have tended to stay away from women in the workplace and refuse to mentor them or work with them alone for fear of being accused of harassment. It is important to remember that despite the perceived improvement for women who were previously subjected to sexual harassment, these behaviors and others will continue unabated unless they are brought into the light. For those who have been sexually harassed, working with a law firm that understands how to pursue compensation may help them achieve justice.