According to CNBC, around twenty percent of American adults have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Women across all sectors and in every corner of the workforce are vulnerable to sexual harassment. No one is immune. However, a 2020 survey by Women Who Tech revealed that 40 percent of female tech employees or founders say they have recently experienced sexual harassment. More specifically, the harassment was from an investor or boss. The most frequent types of sexual harassment they experienced were:
- propositioning in exchange for a promotion, investment funding, or introductions
- unwanted physical contact
- receiving unwanted graphic photos
On the other hand, only 11 percent of men in the tech industry say they have experienced workplace sexual harassment.
Why Are Women in the Tech Sector More Vulnerable to Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Many factors can impact the extent of sexual harassment that goes on toward women in the tech sector. For example:
- Investors and bosses have typically been male.
- Company leaders and investors aren’t historically held accountable for not just continued acts of sexual harassment but also sexual discrimination.
- Many employees feel that human resources departments are for protecting the company and decreasing its liability and not its employees.
- While the #MeToo movement helped many women feel empowered and not alone to come forward, many women don’t report workplace sexual harassment, further perpetuating the incidence of workplace sexual harassment.
- The harassment might take place in an already toxic work culture.
- There might be a fear of retaliation.
What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Most workplace sexual harassment involves a male using his power or authority to make unwanted sexual advances at a female co-worker and threatening negative consequences related to their employment status, something known as quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Other types of sexual harassment can also include things people say or do in the workplace. These things do not have to be directed at one person alone but towards a specific gender. They include:
- telling sexual stories or jokes
- making sexual comments or innuendos, including those about someone’s clothing, anatomy, or looks
- sexual comments about someone’s hair, complexion, physique, or clothes
- referring to an adult as a girl, babe, stud, sugar, doll, hunk, honey, or any other unprofessional term of endearment
- inquiring about sexual fantasies, preferences, or histories
- making kissing sounds, howling, and smacking lips
- unwanted touching or groping
- repeatedly asking someone out after being told no
- giving personal gifts
- looking someone up and down
- staring at someone
- blocking a person’s path
- following the person
- making sexual gestures with hands or body movements
- texting, emailing, or displaying sexually suggestive visuals
What to Do If You’ve Experienced Workplace Sexual Harassed
Sexual harassment and assault have severe legal implications that usually fall under criminal litigation. Employers can sometimes be found liable for the damages arising from sexual harassment and assault. Suppose you can establish that an employer’s negligence demonstrated by poor hiring practices or refusal to act resulted in sexual assault or harassment. In that case, a sexual harassment claim seeking compensation may be successful.
The best way to establish this negligence is to hire an experienced workplace sexual harassment lawyer. Your attorney can ensure you take all the proper steps in reporting sexual harassment and stand up for your rights if you suffer retaliatory actions. They can help collect evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and file and prepare for your possible court case. The sooner you hire an attorney, the more benefit they can have to your case.