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Moving up the ladder is no protection against sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

Women make up about half the workforce in this country, but they still face problems with sexual harassment on the job – especially in male-dominated industries.

When they finally rise through the ranks in an organization and get into leadership roles, many women assume that they will no longer have to worry about sexual harassment – but they’re wrong. It may come as a shock, but women in leadership roles are between 30% and 100% more likely to be sexually harassed than their subordinates.

What makes women executives and leaders vulnerable?

It’s sometimes referred to as the “paradox of power.” On one hand, women are increasingly moving into leadership roles – but that seems to open them up to more verbal and physical abuse from male subordinates.

The theory is that it’s a type of backlash against women in positions of authority from male subordinates who feel threatened or who dislike the changes in the overall “status quo.” Sexual harassment is a way for some people to try to reassert the traditional power structure.

Stereotypes about women in power may also play into the issue. Some people may buy into the idea that any woman who makes it through the glass ceiling in a company must have gotten her position by “sleeping around.” They may feel like that gives them tacit permission to treat the woman in question with disrespect and inappropriate behavior.

Finally, there’s a sense of isolation at the top of any corporate ladder. Women in leadership roles often fear being seen as weak if they can’t “handle” an issue like sexual harassment on their own. This creates a culture of silence that lets harassers act with impunity.

If you’re a woman who has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you have the right to fight back. Learning more on the topic can help you decide where to start.