Despite the efforts of the #MeToo movement, inappropriate workplace jokes, suggestive comments, sexual harassment and assault remain a significant problem in American workplaces.
Recently, the Hollywood Commission surveyed 9,630 Hollywood workers about harassment within the entertainment industry. The survey found that gender harassment is the most common form of harassment, experienced by 62% of male respondents and 67% of female respondents.
The importance of stomping out gender harassment
Gender harassment is another term for offensive workplace speech. This includes inappropriate jokes about someone’s gender or other insulting, hostile, and degrading attitudes about someone’s gender.
While some people try to label gender harassment as harmless, it should not be ignored. If left unchecked, this type of language can spiral.
The Hollywood Commission’s survey found that the entertainment industry largely overlooks gender harassment, only focusing on addressing more severe forms of sexual harassment and assault.
Numbers show high levels of sexual harassment and misconduct
While both men and women suffer from gender harassment, young women between the ages of 24 and 39 faced the highest rates. Women also reported the following unwanted sexual encounters:
- Sexual attention (42%)
- Sexual coercion as a condition of employment or career advancement (20%)
- Sexual assault (5%)
Holding aggressors responsible
The Hollywood Commission’s report shows that powerful men within the entertainment industry are typically responsible for the sexual coercion and assault of female employees. Gender and sexual harassment tended to originate from industry peers, not superiors.
While men are usually seen as the sexual aggressor, some women are also to blame. 40% of male respondents who suffered from sexual coercion were abused by a female colleague.
Are there signs of industry improvement?
In 2018, USA Today surveyed 843 women who work in Hollywood about their experiences with workplace sexual harassment and assault. A staggering 94% of respondents affirmed that they had suffered sexual misconduct at some point of their career. 87% of women in this survey reported gender harassment in the form of unwanted sexual comments, jokes or gestures.
While the recent Hollywood Commission’s report still shows alarming rates of gender and sexual harassment, comparing these two studies suggests that the industry is slowly moving towards a better working environment. Hopefully we will see rates of sexual misconduct continue to drop year after year as leaders push employees towards a higher standard of respect and decorum.