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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and Learning Environment Essay


Your mother, daughter, sister, or a good friend might be sexually harassed at the moment as one in four women have experienced sexual harassment in the USA (Shanker 360). This statistics evidence that despite numerous attempts to eliminate discrimination and attain tolerance, we might still face cases of abuse, biased attitude, and sexual assault. These issues remain a significant problem of modern society as abusers who offend their victims are not able to realize the offensive and humiliating character of their actions. For this reason, there are strict measures aimed at the protection of potential victims and the provision of an appropriate punishment for individuals who disrespect human rights. Unfortunately, the problem still remains topical, and individuals suffer from sexual assaults. In a coherent society, sexual harassment is a well-known social and health issue for decades that commonly happens in the workplace, learning environment, public transportation, and public place.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The significance of the problem and its pernicious impact on society give rise to vigorous debates related to the nature of sexual harassment, its primary victims, places where it occurs, consequences, and ways to solve it. For instance, the workplace remains one of the most dangerous environments regarding the probability of sexual assaults or inappropriate behavior (Shanker 357). Employees, managers, contractors, clients, customers, and other people might become involved in unwelcomed acts (Shanker 360). By the relevant statistics, people holding more powerful positions have more chances to become abusers because of their authority and levers of influence that could be used to affect a victim and make a person obey (McLaughlin, “Sexual Harassment” 631). In a significant number of cases a victim accepts this sexual behavior because of the need for a job, money, social protection, etc. (Shanker 347) Moreover, fear is also considered one of the factors affecting relations between a harasser and a person who suffers from unwelcomed actions.

The issue of sexual harassment at the workplace is also complicated by the fact that the majority of cases remain unnoticed. Statistics show that only 25% of victims are ready to report and initiate investigation while the rest 75% prefer to conceal it (McLaughlin, “Sexual Harassment” 630). The central reasons for victims lack of desire to attract attention to the problem are the fear of losing a job, poor understanding of their primary rights, the absence of any credible evidence, or undesired actions (McLaughlin, “Sexual Harassment” 630). Moreover, witnesses are not likely to reveal cases of harassment they have seen. For instance, 23% of employees had seen sexual behaviors, requests, or suggestions in the workplace. However, only 33% of them reported about them (McLaughlin, “Sexual Harassment” 630). Under these conditions, the problem remains unsolved, and employees might still become victims.

Sexual harassment could also be applied to cases when workers are discriminated against regarding their gender. Thus, according to the survey conducted among working women, 48% of them admit that they are limited in their opportunities for further career growth because of their gender (Holland and Cortina 200). Additionally, the majority of respondents have experienced unfair evaluation of their performance and rewarding practices that rested on sexual discrimination or biased attitude (Holland and Cortina 201). In this regard, one could observe a pernicious impact on sexually unwelcomed behaviors have on employees, their satisfaction with job and career. Thus, cases of gender-based harassment, as an especial case of sexual harassment, could be found in numerous organizations across the USA and globally which evidences the complexity of the problem.

Regarding the severity of the issue, there are strict regulations introduced to eliminate the problem and guarantee a safe environment for workers. For instance, all employees are protected by the law which means that they should be ready to inform a potential abuser about the undesired character of his/her actions and explain that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Usually, it is enough to stop harassers as a majority of them are sure that a victim does not mind their actions (McLaughlin, “The Economic” 340). Additionally, a person should keep in mind that his/her dismissal because of the unwillingness to connive a harasser is unlawful which means that he/she should not accept unwilling behaviors because of this motif. Unfortunately, in a significant number of cases, these measures remain ineffective, and we could now observe a high number of accidents related to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment in the Learning Environment

The learning environment is another sphere characterized by the spread of sexually unwelcomed behavior. By the statistics, 81% of all students experience sexual harassment in school (Clear et al. 1204). 83% of all girls and 78% of all boys have been harassed (Clear et al. 1204). What is even worse is that about 37% of students were harassed by teaches and on the contrary, around 37% of teachers were abused by students (Rosenthal et al. 369). The given numbers evidence a unique complexity of the problem regarding the learning environment. There are multiple cases of unwilling behaviors starting from spreading sexual rumors and ending with asking for intimacy or suggesting sex in exchange for a benefit, favor, good mark, etc. (Clear et al. 1209). In such a way, abuse is connected with authority, rivalry, and desire to dominate. The competitive learning environment might result in the appearance of undesired inclinations among individuals (Gruber and Fineran 120). For this reason, it is crucial to be able to prevent or respond to sexual harassment.

For instance, educators have numerous opportunities to eliminate undesired behaviors by appealing to comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policies. These presuppose severe punishments for abusers starting with warnings and ending with expulsion or dismissal. These policies could become an efficient tool in struggling against the given problem; however, the majority of accidents also remain unreported (Clear et al. 1209). There are several reasons for it like the image of the educational institution, unwillingness to initiate discussion, or even purposive use of this tool to achieve a particular goal or get a good mark (Clear et al. 1207). In this regard, the problem of sexual harassment in the learning environment is still unsolved as there are no potent tools to reveal all cases and introduce a specific framework that will cultivate tolerance and respectful attitude both to teachers and students.

Sexual Harassment in a Public Transportation

Finally, a survey conducted by human rights agencies in the major cities worldwide shows that about 6 in 10 women are sexually harassed in public or on transport systems (Madan and Nalla 91). These accidents include touching, sex jokes, hugging, asking for a date, sex-related comments, etc. In accordance with the same survey, 53% of women feel very unsafe when waiting for their transport on bus stops or railway platforms after dark (Madan and Nalla 93). Moreover, a woman faces an increased risk of being harassed when she enters a subway. There are several factors that precondition it. First, increased difficulty related to the identification of an abuser because of numerous people, especially in rush-hours (Luzon 362). Second, jam in trains, trams, and other means of public transport provide harassers with an opportunity to touch a victim or perform other sexual actions without being noticed (Luzon 359). Finally, people using subway might experience a lack of time which means that they would rather prefer to ignore or forget about the case. For this reason, the subway and other means of transport could be characterized by the high risk of unwelcomed behaviors.

Thus, considering the tendency towards the urbanization and appearance of overcrowded cities, the issue of sexual harassment in public becomes even more significant. The fact is that about 80% of women reported undesired actions performed by someone from the crowd (Madan and Nalla 95). The problem is extremely significant for metropolises and other big cities where the number of victims increases every year. For this reason, a bigger part of women cannot feel secure in the streets. By the above-mentioned survey, 6 in 10 women would rather prefer to spend more time but to avoid moving in the crowd because of the high risk of being abused (Madan and Nalla 91). However, lonely places could also attract harassers because of the absence of witnesses and their isolation. For instance, 4 of 10 women consider places like New York Central Park to be dangerous because of their negative experiences associated with these places (Luzon 363). For this reason, the further deterioration of the situation regarding sexual harassment in public areas could be predicted.

Opposite Perspective

However, despite this dissatisfying statistics, there is an opposite perspective on the issue stating that today we could observe numerous cases of speculations on the fact of being sexually harassed to achieve a certain goal, take revenge, or destroy a persons or a companys positive image (McLaughlin, “Sexual Harassment” 646). Adherers of this point of view is sure that along with the significant rise in the number of abused men (in 1990 92% of all cases were related to women, while in 2015 only 83% of claims are filed by them), one could nowadays observe the tendency to provoke inappropriate behaviors among women (McLaughlin, “Sexual Harassment” 646). In other words, the improvement of the situation along with the shift or priorities could be observed as being deprived of other levers of influence, females use their vulnerable positions to make a profit and attain success by using the traditionally sharp reaction on cases of discrimination and sexual harassment. Additionally, this perspective emphasizes the necessity of the creation of measures aiming at the protection of men who might be wrong-footed by their rivals or other individuals pursuing their own goals (Russell and Oswald 530). This point is critical regarding numerous appeals to restore tolerance and guarantee equal attitude to men and women.


Thus, the given perspective rests on some really existing cases including women using their status of a victim to make publicity help them in achieving goals. For this reason, by this suggestion, there is no need it stricter measures to prevent abuse, but the society has to struggle against speculations. Nevertheless, these accidents could be characterized as isolated cases of speculation on sexual harassment whereas the real significance of the problem is evidenced by the relevant statistics and could hardly be doubted. The fact is that individuals do suffer from undesired behaviors in their workplaces, educational establishments, and streets. In such a way there is an apparent need for more efficient measures to protect people and punish harassers. Moreover, both men and women should be protected. As it comes from statistical data, there is a tendency towards the growth in the number of victims among males (Shanker 243). That is why a tolerant approach protecting a person regardless of his/her gender should be introduced. Only under these conditions, some improvement regarding the problematic sphere could be attained.


Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains one of the modern social stigmas that deteriorate the quality of peoples lives and affect their relations. Statistics show that a bigger part of women and a quarter of men have experienced undesired sexual behaviors in streets, educational establishments, work, etc. (Shanker 240) The problem arises from authorities and power a particular category possesses and its representatives desire to dominate. In some cases, it could also be used to achieve a particular goal and become successful. Anyhow, the critical character of the problem contributes to the increased necessity to find an appropriate solution as existing ones remain inefficient. Despite the fact that society condemns harassers and supports people who have experienced unwelcomed sexual behaviors, victims would rather prefer to conceal the accident not to attract attention or because of the fear of consequences. That is why the issue of sexual harassment remains topical for the current society and demands attention along with numerous efforts to create an appropriate solution to it.

Works Cited

Clear, Emily, et al. “Sexual Harassment Victimization and Perpetration Among High School Students.” Violence Against Women, vol. 20, no. 10, 2014, pp. 1203-1219, Web.

Gruber, James, and Susan Fineran. “Sexual Harassment, Bullying, and School Outcomes for High School Girls and Boys.” Violence Against Women, vol. 22, no. 1, 2015, pp. 112-133, Web.

Holland, Kathryn, and Lilia Cortina. “When Sexism and Feminism Collide: The Sexual Harassment of Feminist Working Women.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 2, 2013, pp. 192-208, Web.

Luzon, Golan. “Criminalising Sexual Harassment.” The Journal of Criminal Law, vol. 81, no. 5, 2017, pp. 359-366, Web.

Madan, Manish and Mahesh Nalla. “Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces” Examining Gender Differences in Perceived Seriousness and Victimization.” International Criminal Justice Review, vol. 26, no.2, 2016, pp. 80-97, Web.

McLaughlin, Heather, et al. “Sexual Harassment, Workplace Authority, and the Paradox of Power.” American Sociological Review, vol. 77, no. 4, 2012, pp. 625-647, Web.

McLaughlin, Heather, et al. “The Economic and Career Effects of Sexual Harassment on Working Women.” Gender & Society, vol. 31, no. 3, 2017, pp. 333-358, Web.

Rosenthal, Marina, et al. “Still Second Class: Sexual Harassment of Graduate Students.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 3, 2016, pp. 364-377, Web.

Russell, Brenda, and Debra Oswald. “When Sexism Cuts Both Ways: Predictors of Tolerance of Sexual Harassment of Men.” Men and Masculinities, vol. 19, no. 5, 2015, pp. 524-544, Web.

Shanker, Murali, et al. “Sexual Harassment: A Complex Adaptive System Viewpoint.” Gender.” Technology and Development, vol. 19, no. 3, 2015, pp. 239-270, Web.

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"Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and Learning Environment." IvyPanda, 13 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace-and-learning-environment/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and Learning Environment." October 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace-and-learning-environment/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and Learning Environment'. 13 October.

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