Science, technology, engineering and math have long been male dominated fields, with women making up only a small fraction of the workforce. While educators and workplaces have made progress to lessen the gender divide, women in these fields still face sexual harassment at an alarming rate.
A staggering number of women experience sexual harassment and assault each year. Now more than ever, though, survivors are being heard, and their offenders are receiving their due punishments. Fear and shame often prevent a victim or witness from reporting a predator, but the law protects people who speak up.
For the last few months, the #MeToo movement has gradually grown stronger within the Maryland General Assembly, a place not only known for its lawmakers, but also for its longstanding acceptance of sexual harassment among its members.
In a survey conducted by an advertising industry trade group, more than half of its 400 respondents who worked in the field said that they had experienced sexual harassment on the job. Furthermore, roughly half felt that they were vulnerable to sexual harassment while 40 percent said that their gender had led to being excluded from the decision-making process at work. One-third said that they had been passed over for a job because of a perceived bias against women.
Maryland residents might have heard that Zillow, an online service that provides real estate listings, is the subject of several lawsuits regarding its employees in Irvine, California. On May 5, however, it reportedly settled four of these suits during a court-ordered conference.
Maryland patients may be interested to learn that harassment and sexual discrimination is common in both medicine and science. A study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that approximately 30 percent of professional female doctors reported that they have been sexually harassed. In comparison, 4 percent of male doctors reported being victims of such behavior.
The extent to which unwanted sexual advances and other forms of sexual harassment exist in work environments might come as a surprise to people. The amount of attention focused by the media on the inappropriateness of lewd comments, sexual innuendo and sexually explicit materials in the workplace should have created enough public awareness to make offices and workplaces in Maryland and elsewhere relatively free of such conduct. Sadly, 33 percent of young women responding to a survey reported being the victim of harassment in a work setting.
Studies show that while women are the most common victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, men are also subjected to harassment on a fairly regular basis. According to a poll completed in 2011, 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men reported having been sexually harassed.
Some Maryland employees who face sexual violence at work may never report it, according to the advocacy group Futures Without Violence. This may be due to employees not knowing their rights or fearing they will lose their jobs. However, even undocumented immigrants are protected against sexual harassment in the workplace.
It is unfortunate that some people still face sexual harassment at their places of employment, but it does occur. When employees are sexually harassed, it is important for them to seek out all of the remedies available to them through their workplace before filing a sexual harassment lawsuit, as a recent case demonstrates.