Women in supervisory roles and non-heterosexuals are more likely to be sexually harassed at work, according to a recent study. Nearly 50 percent of women supervisors reported sexual harassment in the work place, compared to one-third of women who don’t hold supervisory positions. In fact, female supervisors are 137 percent more likely to be harassed than other female employees.
While being a supervisor increased the likelihood of harassment for women, it didn’t have the same effect on men. “This study provides the strongest evidence to date supporting the theory that sexual harassment is less about sexual desire than about control and domination,” say Heather McLaughlin, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota and the study’s primary investigator.
Gender expression, whether someone is identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual by himself or herself or others, also was a strong predictor of workplace harassment, according to the study. Men who reported higher levels of femininity were more likely to have experienced harassment than less feminine men and they were at greater risk of experiencing more severe or multiple forms of sexual harassment.
The authors of the study, which was presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, examined data from the 2003 and 2004 waves of the Youth Development Study, a prospective study of adolescents that began in 1988 with a sample of 1,010 ninth graders in the St. Paul, Minn. public school district and has continued nearly annually. Respondents were 29 to 30 years old during the 2003 and 2004 data collection.