Here’s a list of research papers and articles we used in making this site. If you have a paper you want to tell us about, please email it to [email protected]. Thank you!

Why Didn’t She Just Report Him? The Psychological and Legal Implications of Women’s Responses to Sexual Harassment” (1995, Journal of Social Issues) is a meta-analysis aimed to uncover why women don’t report sexual harassment. It found they feared retaliation and believed nothing would be done even if they did report. The authors concluded that “[u]nfortunately, such beliefs are often well founded,” noting that one study had found one-third of people who reported said reporting “made things worse.” Another study found that reporting was associated with “more negative outcomes of every type (job, psychological, and health-related).” Several studies found that “plaintiffs typically do not fare well in court,” and that when they did prevail, settlements were typically quite small. Half of those who reported lost their jobs and an additional 25% quit in fear and frustration. The paper concluded that “despite pervasive public opinion that women should ‘handle’ harassment assertively, confront the perpetrator immediately, and report him to appropriate authorities, reactions to such responses are generally not favorable for those who actually ‘blow the whistle’” One researcher notes, “Given the immense psychological and economic costs to individuals who use formal action, in contrast to the potentially meager gains, it is not surprising that so few victims choose this response.” 🇺🇸

The (Un)reasonableness of Reporting: Antecedents and Consequences of Reporting Sexual Harassment” (2002, Journal of Applied Psychology) found that reporting often triggers retaliation and “can harm the victim in terms of lowered job satisfaction and greater psychological distress. Such results suggest that, at least in certain work environments, the most ‘reasonable’ course of action for the victim is to avoid reporting.” 🇺🇸

Sexual Harassment in the Private Sector” (2003, Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Handbook of Cultural, Social Science, Management, and Legal Perspectives) references a number of studies that describe who reports sexual harassment and what happens to them afterward. The percentage of survivors who reported is strikingly low: Among the six studies cited, the number ranged from less than 5% to 18%. Those who reported tended to have experienced what is characterized as more “offensive” types of harassment. For those who did report, roughly one-third said that their situation got worse. This was overwhelmingly the case for those who complained directly to the harasser. 🇺🇸

‘I’m Not Thinking of It as Sexual Harassment’: Understanding Harassment across Race and Citizenship” (2006, Gender & Society) reported that Black women find it impossible to detangle sexual harassment from racial harassment, and felt that sexual harassment was easier for them to handle, and less “pressing,” than racial harassment and discrimination. The Black women in the study felt like white women were less adept than Black women at handling sexual harassment by themselves. The study found that Filipinas working as live-in caregivers on limited visas had more ambiguous views on sexual harassment. Working for predominately white employers in their employers’ homes, they were not always clear where the boundary lies between appropriate and inappropriate behaviours. The Filipina workers also made connections to their lack of full citizenship rights, in terms of how this affected their ability to do anything about their experiences. 🇨🇦

Workplace Harassment: Double Jeopardy for Minority Women” (2006, Journal of Applied Psychology), a survey of 238 unionized workers in racially diverse workplaces, found that “minority women were significantly more harassed than minority men, majority women, and majority men when both ethnic and sexual harassment were combined into an overall measure of harassment.” 🇨🇦

The Moderating Roles of Race and Gender-Role Attitudes in the Relationship Between Sexual Harassment and Psychological Well-Being” (2007, Psychology of Women Quarterly) found that the more sexual harassment you experience, the more distress and post-traumatic stress you report, and the less satisfied you are with your life overall. It found that feminist white women who experience sexual harassment suffer fewer ill effects compared with white women who are not feminists: This, the authors hypothesize, is because feminist white women may be able to attribute harassing experiences to gender-based societal injustices, which allows them “to better insulate themselves from the negative psychological consequences of sexual harassment.” Feminist Black women, however, suffered more ill effects from sexual harassment compared with non-feminist Black women. The authors theorized that “[b]ecause Black women belong to multiple marginalized groups, they may feel personally impacted by multiple systems of inequity, that is, increased consciousness about gender-related issues may also result in increased consciousness about race-related difficulties and oppression, as well as consciousness about oppression that targets them on the basis of their race and gender intersection. For these women, sexual harassment may increase feelings of being personally targeted and at risk of additional harassment, which may lead to the heightened negative effect on psychological well-being that we observed.” The study also notes, “Additionally, after harassment, White women may have greater access to legal and mental health resources than Black women. Feminist attitudes may encourage White women to take advantage of these resources and thus ultimately cope more effectively with sexually harassing experiences. On the other hand, Black women who have more feminist attitudes may be more skeptical and critical of attempting to remedy situations through legal recourse, grievances, or counseling.” 🇺🇸

Examining the Job-Related, Psychological, and Physical Outcomes of Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Meta-Analytic Review” (2008, Psychology of Women Quarterly) analyzed 49 primary studies and found that “sexual harassment experiences are negatively associated with job-related outcomes, psychological health, and physical health conditions.” It found that harassed employees derive lower satisfaction from their work and are less committed to their organizations. They show declines in job performance, are more likely to quit their jobs, and are more likely to withdraw from their work (including having higher rates of absenteeism rates and avoidance of work duties). They have lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression. “Because sexual harassment is usually unexpected and often violates one’s beliefs about a supportive and nonviolent working environment, harassment victims are likely to have similar psychological symptoms as those who experience traumatic events.” They are more likely to have headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disturbance, and “sapped health conditions.” 🇺🇸

Aboriginal Mental Health: The Statistical Reality” (2008, Visions Journal) contains Canadian government statistics on Indigenous people and mental health. It found that “Aboriginal people have a holistic view of mental wellness. Wellness means being in a state of balance with family, community and the larger environment. Because of this, European models of treatment that remove the person from their surroundings tend not to work for this group. Culture and spirituality are the frameworks of treatment developed by first Nations and Inuit communities. Family and community have a key role in helping individuals regain their sense of balance.” 🇨🇦

In Harm’s Way: Factors Related to Psychological Distress Following Sexual Harassment” (2009, Psychology of Women Quarterly) enumerated factors affecting how harmed a person may be by sexual harassment, and found that “[c]ertain characteristics of the experience—such as being physical, the presence of threat, restricted access to escape, and being the sole target—are important predictors of PTSD and other psychic distress.” It found that “in general, the more the victim blamed herself, the more psychological disruption she experienced.” It also argued that engaging in litigation may hurt the survivor’s ability to heal: “Certainly, women who are involved in ongoing litigation are obliged to remain focused on the past due to the demands of testimony, and civil trials are unfortunately known for their lengthy delays, further inhibiting recovery. The implication for professionals is that treatment for women recovering from sexual harassment may be well served by including an emphasis on coping in the present, rather than seeking a person or entity to blame. This is not to say that individuals and organizations should not be held responsible for past actions and failures to act, but, rather, that a focus for recovery might be present coping strategies and the fostering of a sense of control over the recovery process.” 🇺🇸

An Examination of the Workplace Experiences of Police Patrol Officers: The Role of Race, Sex, and Sexual Orientation” (2009, Police Quarterly) found that Black policewomen experience higher rates of sexual harassment on the job compared with white policewomen. 🇺🇸

Compensating Differentials for Sexual Harassment” (2011, The American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings) says that women who work in majority-male environments get a pay boost in exchange for being harassed. Its conclusion: “This paper shows that, on balance, workers receive a wage premium for exposure to the risk of sexual harassment in much the same way that workers receive a wage premium for the risk of fatality or injury.” 🇺🇸

An Overview of the Literature on Antecedents, Perceptions and Behavioural Consequences of Sexual Harassment” (2012, Journal of Sexual Aggression) found that “[f]ormal and informal complaints to relevant authorities” is the strategy least often used by workers who have experienced sexual harassment. For people who did report, approximately half said their situation improved slightly, whereas 33% said it got worse. People who report stated they had a more negative perception of organizational justice after reporting, compared with people who did not report. 🇺🇸

Labour Arbitration of Co-Worker Sexual Harassment Cases in Canada” (2012, Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences). Author Susan M. Hart analyzed 26 cases that went to union arbitration in Canada between 1992 and 2008. All the cases involved women who had reported being sexually harassed by male co-workers in the same union. Of the 26 cases, three were filed by unions on behalf of women. The others were filed on behalf of men who had been disciplined by an employer for sexual harassment. (One case involved three grievances.) Twenty-three of the men involved had been dismissed and two had been suspended for less than two weeks. The two who were suspended were reinstated with full compensation. Of the discharges, 61% of the grievors were reinstated. The article concludes: “The findings from this study…indicate that the arbitration process is likely to have a chilling effect on women who are considering filing a formal sexual harassment complaint thus undermining, rather than protecting, their workplace rights.” 🇨🇦

The Career Experiences of Male-to-Female Transsexuals” (2012, The Counseling Psychologist) includes quotes from trans women about being harassed at work. 🇺🇸

Framing Sexual Harassment through Media Representations” (2013, Women’s Studies International Forum), an analysis of news media coverage of workplace sexual harassment in Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K., found that news media coverage of workplace sexual harassment overreported on what the study calls “classic” sexual harassment, “that is, harassment perpetrated by a male who was more senior to the complainant, such as a line manager towards a female subordinate.” In contrast, the study found, the news media underreported on peer- or co-worker-perpetrated harassment, and on harassment perpetrated by a junior colleague or by customers or clients. Further, the study found news media overreported “cases where the target was employed in a skilled or authoritative occupation, including legislators, senior officials and managers, professionals, and technicians and associate professionals.” News media were also found to have overreported on serious physical harassment, at the expense of non-physical forms of harassment, which are more common, such as insults, the display of offensive materials, and offensive comments and nonverbal gestures. The study noted that the news media overreported sexualization at the expense of bullying. 🇦🇺

Three-in-Ten Canadians Say They’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work, but Very Few Have Reported This to Their Employers” (2014, Angus Reid Institute) found that 28% of Canadians reported having experienced “sexual harassment and unwanted contact” in their workplace or at a work function, with women almost four times more likely than men to say they’d been sexually harassed. The actions people reported taking as a result were, in order of frequency, confronting the harasser directly (40%), talking with a friend or family member (34%), reporting the harassment to their employer (22%), taking no action (19%), quitting their job (16%), and requesting a transfer (7%). Of those who reported, 40% said their employer “was responsive and conducted a serious investigation and took appropriate action,” about a third said their employer “was responsive but did not take any concrete action,” and about one in four said their employer was “unresponsive and dismissive.” 🇨🇦

Voices from Beyond: A Thematic Content Analysis of Transgender Employees’ Workplace Experiences” (2014, Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity) quotes a 2006 U.S. survey of 6,450 transgender and gender-nonconforming people, which found that 90% reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment at work or taking action to avoid it. It quotes another qualitative study that found transgender people reporting these harassment experiences: “being outed [as transgender], being deliberately called a former name or gender pronoun, being fired or denied employment, being denied access to restrooms, and being physically threatened or emotionally abused.” In another study, transgender employees reported their gender identity was challenged as inauthentic. One example was being instructed on how to appropriately dress for their gender. The result was “stress, anxiety, apprehension, depression, and limited occupational prospects.” Their job satisfaction went down. They felt less in control and less hopeful, and sometimes as a result engaged in substance use or tried to kill themselves. Trans people said good workplaces brought in training or education for co-workers (so the trans person didn’t have to do it all themselves), made it easy for the employee to access appropriately gendered spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms, and made it easy to change their email address post transition. 🇺🇸

Voicing Their Complaints? The Silence of Students Working in Retail and Hospitality and Sexual Harassment from Customers” (2014, Labour & Industry) interviewed 10 post-secondary students working or who had worked in the service sector who had experienced sexual harassment by their customers. It found the students responded to sexual harassment by employing strategies designed to cope with it, rather than to contest it. 🇦🇺

Work, Bodies and Boundaries: Talking Sexual Harassment in the New Economy” (2014, Gender, Work & Organization) examines sexual harassment in the context of the changing workplace. The writers found that because the boundary between work and home life is more and more blurred, workers are increasingly unsure whether a particular behaviour constitutes workplace sexual harassment, versus being part of their personal life. The study also finds that “the growing imperative for workers to self-manage may similarly erode their ability and/or willingness to read sexual harassment as a legitimate workplace concern, returning it instead to the realm of individual failure and individual responsibility.”🇺🇸

Harmful Workplace Experiences and Women’s Occupational Well-being: A Meta-Analysis” (2015, Psychology of Women Quarterly) found that “more intense yet less frequent harmful experiences (e.g., sexual coercion and unwanted sexual attention) and less intense but more frequent harmful experiences (e.g., sexist organizational climate and gender harassment) had similar negative effects on women’s well-being.” 🇺🇸

Workplace Sexual Harassment at the Margins” (2015, Work, Employment and Society) analyzed 282 complaints of sexual harassment reported to equal opportunity commissions in Australia in 2009. It found that 78% of sexual harassment complaints were women complaining about men, 11% were men complaining about men, 6% were women complaining about women, and 5% were men complaining about women. It found 89% of alleged harassers were male, and 11% were female. About half of sexual harassment was non-physical, and it included sexually suggestive comments, offensive jokes, rumours, and intrusive questions. 🇦🇺

Law and the Construction of Institutionalized Sexual Harassment in Restaurants” (2015, Canadian Journal of Law and Society) argues that job precariousness can limit a person’s right to work free of sexual harassment. Using the restaurant industry as an example, the paper describes how precarious work environments constrain people’s ability to resist sexual harassment, and enumerates factors that contribute to that, such as reliance on tips, insecure income, and unpredictable scheduling. 🇨🇦

Hostility or Hospitality? A Review on Violence, Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry” (2015, Current Issues in Tourism) identifies six types of workplace bullying: “1) changing the victim’s work tasks in some negative way or making them difficult to perform, 2) social isolation and boycott by not communicating with somebody or excluding someone from social activities, 3) insulting remarks, personal attacks (also on the victim’s private life), 4) verbal threats in which the victim is humiliated in public, and 5) spreading rumours regarding the victim,” and 6) cyber-bullying. The review finds that all the academic research says the hospitality industry is highly aggressive, with high levels of violence, bullying, and harassment. The study says that’s because workers in the sector are vulnerable (“female, young and minorities”), not unionized, and low paid, and so they are easily targeted. It’s also because managers in the sector are weak and ineffective. And the “customer first” industry culture contributes to tolerance of sexual harassment, and attracts people who are insensitive to harassment. The study suggests that social media may provide a voice to people who haven’t had one, which may raise awareness of the problem and deter some harassers. 🇮🇱

’But It’s Your Job to Be Friendly’: Employees Coping with and Contesting Harassment from Customers in the Service Sector” (2016, Gender, Work & Organization) found that service-centre employees mostly respond informally and quickly to sexual harassment. People in the service sector “found themselves defining the limits of inappropriate behaviour, with some setting the bar for sexual harassment only at physical touching.” They “also felt responsible for developing an appropriate response to the harassment, weighing up their feelings of being personally uncomfortable with the emotional labor requirements of the work to offer friendly, personalized customer service.” Many “reflected on their working conditions and the status of the work, conceptualizing their job as temporary. They internalized the idea that it was ‘not real’, meaning not a full-time career track job and therefore not worth making a complaint.” Because servers are trained to comply with the law when serving alcohol, some would use cutting off alcohol as a way to try to stop sexual harassment or to indicate disapproval. Many made jokes. Others complained to colleagues or traded tips with colleagues on how to avoid or interrupt sexual harassment. When necessary, some would ask a janitor or a security person to intervene. Practically no one reported sexual harassment to their boss, in part because most service-sector workplaces didn’t have formal policies or practices related to sexual harassment by customers. 🇺🇸

Law’s Gendered Subtext: The Gender Order of Restaurant Work and Making Sexual Harassment Normal” (2016, Feminist Legal Studies) argues that part of the reason legal systems designed to combat sexual harassment are failing is because those systems require people experiencing sexual harassment to repeatedly object to it. (This is known as the reasonableness test, which asks “whether or not the alleged harasser ‘knows or ought reasonably to have known’ that his sexual conduct was unwelcome.”) The paper argues that requiring repeated objections is unreasonable in workplaces where sexualization and/or harassment is the norm, such as in restaurants and bars. As the author puts it, “[D]efining sexual harassment using the welcome/unwelcome framing, and requiring that a ‘reasonable person’ ought to have known that the conduct in question was unwelcome, is irrelevant in the context of workplaces in which sexual harassment is constructed to be an ordinary part of the job.” 🇨🇦

Harassment in Canadian Workplaces” (2016, Statistics Canada) found that of women who self-identified as “Aboriginal,” 10% say they were sexually harassed at work in the past year, compared with 4% of those who did not self-identify as Aboriginal. 🇨🇦

To Confront Versus not to Confront: Women’s Perception of Sexual Harassment” (2017, European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context) found that women’s beliefs about potential negative consequences and reactions deter many women from confronting the person who harassed them and/or reporting the incident. 🇪🇸

Sexual Harassment: Have We Made Any Progress?” (2017, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology) characterized workplace sexual harassment as a “continuing, chronic occupational health problem” and noted that female military personnel who reported sexual harassment did not experience improved job, psychological, or health outcomes afterward. 🇺🇸

Sexual Harassment in Care Work—Dilemmas and Consequences: A Qualitative Investigation” (2017, International Journal of Nursing Studies) involved interviews with 39 care workers at Danish workplaces, including hospitals, nursing homes, community health centres, rehabilitation care centres, and psychiatric residential facilities, about their experiences of workplace sexual harassment. It found that sexual harassment of care workers was very frequent, and that care workers get little support in handling it. “The care workers often separated between intentional and unintentional behaviours initiated by cognitively impaired patients. Thus, they often refrain from using the term harassment, because it implies that the actions were intentional. However, the interviews revealed that, in practice, this separation was very difficult….The managers, shop stewards and safety representatives in this study were often not aware of the frequency and the impact of the episodes had on the care workers. The workplaces participating in this study rarely had guidelines or policies for managing and/or preventing sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual behaviours, but often responded to episodes in an ad hoc and case-by-case manner.” 🇩🇰

The Economic and Career Effects of Sexual Harassment on Working Women” (2017, Gender & Society) found that workplace sexual harassment increases financial stress, largely by precipitating job change, and can significantly alter women’s career attainment. Specifically, the study finds that quitting a job due to sexual harassment can have significant negative impacts on women’s careers. Women who leave their job then have “‘a sequence of stressful experiences’ from unemployment, job search, retraining, and reemployment ‘often in a job of inferior quality and lower earnings.’” Sexual harassment can be “a major scarring event that disrupts ‘the usual trajectory of steady jobs with career ladders that normally propels wage growth.’” In addition, “By severing ties with employers, workers also relinquish firm-specific human capital, which is closely linked to earnings. Further, harassment targets may have trouble obtaining references from managers and coworkers. Those who find a new job may discover lack of seniority limits earnings growth and increases vulnerability to layoffs and career instability. Career interruption may be especially costly in the early career.” And, “Our quantitative and qualitative results indicate that harassment experienced in women’s twenties and early thirties knocks many off-course during this formative career stage.” Women “find themselves in the untenable position of having to choose between participating in misogynistic cultures at work, which does not serve them as women, or resisting these cultures, leaving little chance for growth in their companies.” 🇺🇸

The Effects of Resource Extraction on Inuit Women and Their Families: Evidence from Canada” (2017, Gender & Development) examined the gendered social impacts of resource extraction in Qamani’tuaq, Nunavut, finding that sexual harassment and assault was one of the top three reasons Inuit women gave for leaving their jobs at the Meadowbank mine there. The women were employed mainly in entry-level positions as housekeepers and kitchen staff, including cleaning the male employees’ sleeping quarters, which they said increased their vulnerability. Nearly 50% of study participants said sexual assault at the mine was a problem, and several complained specifically about rape. 🇨🇦

Public Service Employee Survey (2017, Government of Canada) found that of employees who self-identified as Indigenous, 28% reported being harassed at work in the last year, compared with 17% of those who did not self-identify as Indigenous. 🇨🇦

Why Doesn’t She Just Report It?: Apprehensions and Contradictions for Women Who Report Sexual Violence to the Police” (2017, Canadian Journal of Women and the Law) studied 36 Ottawa women’s reports of sexual assault to the police and analyzed the general failure of procedural justice. The author noted that societal expectations of a positive police response to a sexual assault report are rising, from 61% of women assaulted since 2010, compared to 28% assaulted at an earlier point. However, she indicates that there’s no evidence that charging or prosecution rates have actually improved. Many of the women in the study found “they were met with inappropriate responses to trauma, other callous behaviour, or disbelief and threats of repercussions if they were found to be fabricating.” 🇨🇦

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Where Were the Unions?” (2018, Labor Studies Journal) reports that labour unions “have a mixed record when it comes to fighting sexual harassment, especially in cases that involve conduct by union members,” and that male-dominated unions, especially, “too often [side] with male harassers.” “A troubling pattern emerges from these cases,” the study reports, in that “a victim complains to the union, the union representative ignores her, or points her toward the employer, encouraging her to file a complaint under the employer’s sexual harassment policy….When the employer disciplines a harasser, the union grieves the discipline, forcing the victim and the employer to align in opposition to the union and the harasser. Indeed, sexual harassment grievances in labor arbitration overwhelmingly involve men challenging discipline for sexually harassing conduct.” 🇺🇸

Initial Assessment of the Psychometric Properties of the Sexual Harassment Reporting Attitudes Scale” (2018, Cogent Psychology) restates a lot of other research about why people don’t report sexual harassment—mainly because they don’t think reporting will result in anything changing, they don’t feel the harassment was serious enough to be worth reporting, they are worried about retaliation, and/or they believe reporting will make their situation worse. The study also finds that the strongest predictor of whether someone will report is whether they believe they have a moral duty to do so. In other words, this study finds that reporting isn’t motivated by practical goals such as a desire to make the harassment stop, or to get compensation for what happened. Rather, it says, the motivation to report is primarily a moral one: People who report do it because they believe reporting is the right thing to do, even though they also believe it will be ineffective. 🇺🇸

Harassment in Canadian Workplaces” (2018, Statistics Canada) uses data from the 2016 General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home. (Note: The study extended past sexual harassment to include verbal abuse, physical violence, and other forms of harassment.) The study found that the group most often reported as harassing women at work are “clients or customers,” followed by “a colleague or peer,” then by “supervisor or manager.” For men who were harassed, the most common harasser was “client or customer,” followed by “supervisor or manager,” followed by “colleague or peer.” The study found that a person’s likelihood of having ever been harassed at work grows over time, and peaks at ages 45-54. It also found that the more years of education you have, the more likely you are to say you’ve been harassed at work. However, it also found that the less money you make, the more likely you are to say you’ve been harassed at work. 🇨🇦

‘I Made Myself Small Like a Cat and Ran Away’: Workplace Sexual Harassment, Precarious Immigration Status and Legal Violence” (2019, Journal of Gender Studies) involved interviews with 21 female Mexican migrants in Toronto who were engaged in precarious work (often working for cash pay, through subcontractors and agencies). The interviews found the women were frequently sexually harassed at work, but did not report the harassment to the authorities, in part because of fear of deportation. 🇨🇦

Race, Threat and Workplace Sexual Harassment: The Dynamics of Harassment in the United States, 1997-2016” (2019, Gender, Work & Organization), an analysis of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data from 1997 to 2016, found that during that period, white women’s reports of sexual harassment decreased while Black women’s reports increased, and that worsening economic conditions led to a rise in reports of sexual harassment. The study authors observed that sexual harassment shifted from white women to Black women as white women began to gain workplace power, and concluded that harassers are conscious of power relationships, and choose to target more vulnerable women in their workplaces. The link between changes in the unemployment rate and changes in sexual harassment in the following months indicates, the researchers wrote, that men are more likely to engage in harassing behaviour when they have reason to feel that their economic position in society is under threat. Rather than being about sexual desire, or an unavoidable consequence of men and women working together, the researchers conclude, sexual harassment in the workplace is an expression of power and a way for men to assert their dominance. In sum, they say, men respond to the potential loss of relative status by carrying out extreme forms of masculine overcompensation, including sexual harassment, as a gendered display of power and dominance. 🇺🇸

The Penalties for Self-Reporting Sexual Harassment” (2019, Gender & Society) found that study participants were less likely to recommend a woman for promotion if she had reported sexual harassment, relative to otherwise identical women, and concluded that “women may hesitate to report sexual harassment because they rightly perceive that doing so could cause them to experience bias.” 🇺🇸

How Women Are Penalized at Work for Reporting Sexual Harassment” (2019, Gender and the Economy) found that when women report workplace sexual harassment “they are penalized in terms of advancement opportunities.” 🇺🇸

Why Women Are Blamed for Being Sexually Harassed: The Effects of Empathy for Female Victims and Male Perpetrators” (2019, Psychology of Women Quarterly) study found that when women report workplace sexual harassment they often encounter victim-blaming attitudes, especially from men. 🇺🇸

Workplace Sexual Harassment: Assessing the Effectiveness of Human Rights Law in Canada” (2019, Allard Faculty Publications) is an analysis of sexual harassment decisions at the B.C. and Ontario Human Rights Tribunals from 2000-2018. It found that over those 18 years, in B.C., a total of 66 sexual harassment complaints made it all the way through the process from reporting to decision, and in Ontario, that number was 116. In B.C., 68% of complaints were ultimately found justified and in Ontario, 64% were found justified, with the remainder dismissed. Self-represented complainants were less likely to have their complaints found justified, compared to complainants represented by lawyers. The analysis found that human rights tribunal decisions privilege quid pro quo and physical forms of sexual harassment over covert and subtle forms of harassment, and that complainants are plagued by issues and questions about their credibility, their character, and consent. Nevertheless, the study found that in Canada, legal claims concerning sexual harassment and misconduct are increasingly being pursued through human rights tribunals, because such tribunals are felt to be a better vehicle than other forums due to their relaxed evidentiary and examination standards, less adversarial atmosphere, and higher compensatory awards. 🇨🇦

Unofficial Reporting in the #MeToo Era” (2019, University of Chicago Legal Forum) discusses new technology-facilitated mechanisms that people are using to report sexual harassment, such as Twitter, crowdsourced spreadsheets, and the Blind app, that bypass formalized mechanisms of accountability. 🇺🇸

The Sociology of Gaslighting” (2019, American Sociological Review) argues that “[g]aslighting should be understood as rooted in social inequalities, including gender, and executed in power-laden intimate relationships. The theory developed here argues that gaslighting is consequential when perpetrators mobilize gender-based stereotypes and structural and institutional inequalities against victims to manipulate their realities. Using domestic violence as a strategic case study to identify the mechanisms via which gaslighting operates, [the author reveals] how abusers mobilize gendered stereotypes; structural vulnerabilities related to race, nationality, and sexuality; and institutional inequalities against victims to erode their realities. These tactics are gendered in that they rely on the association of femininity with irrationality. Gaslighting offers an opportunity for sociologists to theorize under-recognized, gendered forms of power and their mobilization in interpersonal relationships.” 🇺🇸

Limiting Our Livelihoods: The Cumulative Impact of Sexual Harassment on Women’s Careers” (2019, American Association of University Women) found that “women who have experienced sexual harassment report severe and long-lasting negative mental health consequences, such as depression and post-traumatic stress. Sexual harassment has also been linked to a higher risk of long-term negative physical health effects, as both direct and indirect consequences of negative mental health effects. The destructive impact sexual harassment has on health and well-being can last for years after the incidents….The negative mental and physical health effects can diminish job performance and morale. The lost time out of work or the need to change jobs prematurely can result in less income and, consequently, lower contributions to Social Security and/or retirement savings programs, thereby compromising women’s long-term economic prospects.” 🇺🇸

Measuring the Economic Costs of Workplace Sexual Harassment on Women” (2019, Scripps Senior Theses) summarizes the results of a literature review. “According to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), women who are sexually harassed tend to take more sick days, report lower productivity at work, have higher job dissatisfaction and often quit their jobs. According to one study, many women are passed over for promotions if they do not participate [in] or condone their co-worker’s harassing behavior. If women decide to leave their job, they often face career setbacks due to taking a job with lower income, starting over with a less prestigious position in a new company or leaving the industry altogether. Involuntary job displacement causes financial stress and hinders future career trajectories for individual women. In addition, companies or industries with high levels of sexual harassment are harmful to all women, placing them ‘in the untenable position of having to choose between participating in misogynistic cultures at work, which does not serve them as women, or resisting these cultures, leaving little chance for growth in their companies.’ This inhibits women from pursuing specific career paths or going into certain industries.” The paper also says, “One of the most current and thorough studies on this topic examines the immediate and long-term financial stress on women who experience sexual harassment early in [their] careers. Using Youth Development Study data, McLaughlin et al. find that women who experience harassment between the ages of 29 to 30 have increased financial stress in their early thirties. This is mostly due to women quitting their job in order to avoid harassers or because they are dissatisfied with their workplace. The study also conducted interviews with targets of sexual harassment and found that women were likely to move to a different industry, change their career path, and reduce their work hours, which often lowered their wages. The overall impact on career attainment and financial stability was on par with serious injury or illness, incarceration, and assault. This is one of the few studies that focuses on the impact of harassment on women’s financial situations and it nicely incorporates qualitative data to support the quantitative findings.” The paper has some other interesting findings. The younger you are, the likelier you are to be harassed: People older than their mid-forties are significantly less likely to be harassed than younger people. But the people who report workplace sexual harassment tend to be older: In the United States, the average age of a worker reporting is 47. Thirty-eight percent of women who reported were between 46-50 and 36% of women were between 51-55, while 0% were between 30-35. “Older women have more job stability, financial stability, and possibly more experience dealing with these issues, therefore they are reporting incidences of sexual harassment more consistently. The women that are making a difference and drawing attention to sexual harassment are predominantly older women.” Also, “Women in blue-collar workers face the most sexual harassment,” while white women are disproportionately likely to report. 🇺🇸

Putting People Down and Pushing Them Out: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” (2020, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior), a meta-review of academic research, says that “by far the most common manifestation of sexual harassment is gender harassment, which has contempt at its core” and “aims to put people down and push them out, not pull them into sexual activity.” It says, “gender harassment is far more common than unwanted sexual attention or coercion.” “In terms of who engages in sexual harassment, research finds that harassers are more often men than women,” and “even when men are the victims of sexual harassment, the person harassing them is commonly another man. Men’s sexual harassment of other men tends to involve a unique form of gender harassment, humiliating those who deviate from heterosexual male gender roles.” Trans men report experiencing less sexual harassment after transitioning, whereas trans women report more. In terms of how people respond to sexual harassment, the research found that only 15% of harassed women and 11% of harassed men made formal complaints, and that “[r]eporting is typically the response of last resort, attempted only after all other efforts at ending the harassment have failed.” The study finds that people’s reluctance to report is well-founded, because reporting is often followed by “indifference, trivialization, and retaliation.” 🇺🇸

A Discussion Paper: Ending Sexual Violence and Sexual Exploitation In First Nation Communities” (2020, Chiefs of Ontario) criticizes the addressing of sexual violence and sexual exploitation in Ontario First Nation communities, saying it has largely relied on Canadian models of justice and intervention without inclusion of, or designed with, a foundation of First Nation knowledge. 🇨🇦

Fem or Foe?: Non-Communal Women Who Report Sexual Harassment Receive Fewer Career Advancement Opportunities” (2020, PDX Scholar) found that “women who report harassment receive lower scores of perceived promotability, hireability, and raise-worthiness than women who don’t report harassment.” 🇺🇸

Discounting Credibility: Doubting the Stories of Women Survivors of Sexual Harassment” (2020, Seton Hall Law Review) argues that the reason sexual harassment is still a big problem is because our culture has a “reflexive inclination to discount the credibility of women, especially when those women are recounting experiences of abuse perpetrated by more powerful men.” It says that “managers, supervisors, union representatives, human resource officers, and judges—improperly discount as implausible women’s stories of harassment, due to a failure to understand either the psychological trauma caused by abusive treatment or the practical realities that constrain women’s options in its aftermath.” Further, it argues, “gatekeepers unjustly discount women’s personal trustworthiness, based on their demeanor (as affected by the trauma they often have suffered); on negative cultural stereotypes about women’s motives for seeking redress for harms; and on our deep-rooted cultural belief that women as a group are inherently less than fully trustworthy.” 🇺🇸

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Employment Discrimination and Workplace Harassment against Transgender and Other Minority Employees in Canada’s Federal Public Service” (2020, Journal of Homosexuality) found that gender diverse (transgender, nonbinary and genderqueer) federal public service employees experience significantly higher rates of employment harassment relative to cisgender men and cisgender women. With the exception of those with disabilities, gender -diverse employees have the highest rates of self-reported employment discrimination and harassment, compared to cisgender women, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples. This paper finds that the intersection of multiple minority statuses increase self-reported discrimination and harassment. 🇨🇦

Building Inclusion for Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian Workplaces” (2020, Catalyst) involved a survey of 86 Indigenous people working in Canada, and found 67% reported being on guard against bias while at work, and more than half felt psychologically unsafe at work. 🇨🇦

To Stop Gender Discrimination at Work, Canada Has all the Laws It Needs—but the System Enforcing Them Is Broken” (2021, Globe and Mail): Reporter Robyn Doolittle walks through all the options available to women experiencing workplace sexual harassment, and condemns the system as utterly broken. 🇨🇦

Workers’ Experiences of Inappropriate Sexualized Behaviours, Sexual Assault and Gender-based Discrimination in the Canadian Provinces, 2020” (2021, Statistics Canada), a huge omnibus survey conducted just before the pandemic, affirms a lot of what we’ve learned from other sources about workplace sexual harassment: that women are likeliest to be sexually harassed, that the harassers are almost always men, that this harassment is most common in industries dominated by men and in the service sector (especially bars and restaurants), that in the service sector it is most often perpetrated by clients, patients, and customers, that people targeted are often young people, people, with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQIA+ people, etc. It found that almost a third of workers say their employer has not told them how to report workplace sexual harassment. It found that the perpetrator was most commonly an equal in the workplace, not a boss or a subordinate. It found that less than half of people experiencing workplace sexual harassment told someone at work. Of people who told someone, only 6% told HR, 3% told a union rep, a little less than half told a boss or a supervisor, and about 70% told a co-worker. Those who hadn’t told someone gave the normal reasons, in order of frequency: they felt it wasn’t serious enough, they resolved it on their own, they didn’t think anything would be done, they were afraid of reprisals, the behaviour stopped, or they didn’t think they would be believed. They reported the normal negative impacts: that their work suffered, they lost trust in their employer, about a third considered quitting, about 40% said they suffered emotionally, and a small number (about 5%) reported using drugs or alcohol to cope. 🇨🇦

Paying Today and Tomorrow: Charting the Financial Costs of Workplace Sexual Harassment” (2021, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Time’s Up Foundation), attempts to quantify the financial costs of sexual harassment for survivors through interviews with workplace sexual harassment experts and 16 survivors. It finds that the lifetime costs of harassment and retaliation are particularly high for people pushed out of well-paid, male-dominated occupations such as trades. Major contributors to negative financial outcomes are job loss and periods of unemployment, the loss of pension and health insurance benefits, costs of retraining for a new industry, and the results of being pushed out of well-paid jobs into ones that pay less. The effects are particularly severe for people working in low-paid and precarious jobs, and can lead to, for example, higher financial costs like increased interest rates and late fees, lower credit ratings, mounting student loan debt, repossession of cars, eviction from housing, temporary homelessness, and reduced retirement security. The study found that policies designed to prevent workplace sexual harassment are not working: Those responsible for preventing or addressing harassment did not do it, and retaliation is common. People at heightened risk of suffering financial losses due to harassment include those who work in male-dominated industries, in physically isolated workplaces, or in situations of significant power imbalance (including due to immigration status), and those who don’t have clear channels for reporting harassment because of their employment status (because they are subcontractors, franchisees, or otherwise “decentralized”). The study found that the lifetime costs of workplace sexual harassment could reach as high as $1.3 million for people pushed out of well-paid, male-dominated industries. Of the 16 people interviewed, all had suffered some financial losses as a result of being harassed. 🇺🇸