Gender segregation contributes to sexual harassment in the workplace

sexual harassment in the workplace
© Andrey Popov

Individuals who form the gender minority at work are more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace, and leave the job as a result

In fact, this harassment discourages people from entering positions in workplaces where they would be in the minority in the first place. Not only this, but those in the minority sex within the workplace are leaving their jobs for alternative, lower paying jobs.

This data, from paper “Sexual harassment and gender inequality in the labour market” in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, also indicates that men and women are segregated in workplaces.

Previous research has suggested that this segregation may account for 15% to 20% of the gender wage gap. These researchers also studied how work-based gender discrimination is contributing to such inequality.

Women are three times more likely than men to encounter sexual harassment in the workplace

The biannual Swedish Work Environment Survey highlights that the risk of harassment increases with the share of opposite-sex people in their workplace.

Generally, women are three times more likely than men to experience sexual harassment in the workplace. However, in the most male-dominated workplaces, women are nearly six times more likely than men to be harassed and the risk for men is almost twice as high as women in the most female-dominated workplaces.

Naturally, both male and female workers had a high aversion against taking jobs in workplaces where a sexual harassment incident had occurred, and if the harassment victim has been of the same gender as them, then this aversion was three times larger. The survey implies that women are deterred from taking roles in male-dominated workplaces, where they are the main harassment victims.

This dynamic of avoidance also applies to their male counterparts too.

“Sexual harassment contributes to the gender wage gap”

The study also examines how companies that employ more men, pay their employees more. For example, a workplace consisting of more than 80% men offers a wage of 9% more than a workplace with 80% female employees.

The researchers have found that sexual harassment results in gender inequality via the new jobs that victims of harassment take. Women who report sexual harassment are 25% more likely to have taken a new job in the three years following the harassment and men are 15% more likely to have left for a new job. This information demonstrates that women who are sexually assaulted are more likely to leave their employment for a less male-dominated, lower paid new job.

“By deterring women from taking jobs in male-dominated workplaces, harassment also keeps women away from the highest-paying employers in the labour market, and men from the lowest-paying ones. In this way, sexual harassment contributes to the gender wage gap,” said Johanna Rickne, one of the paper’s authors.

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