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Can power help women avoid sexual harassment by men?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Workplace Harassment |

Most would agree that the sexual harassment of women by men is usually about power. It’s not about them being unable to restrain their animal instinct or resist womanly charms. It’s about showing a woman that they have the power to say or do things to her and get away with it. It’s about making a woman feel vulnerable, to let her know how (seemingly) powerless she is compared to them.

So, it’s natural that some women assume that gaining power by getting a promotion or becoming their own boss may help them to avoid sexual harassment. Unfortunately, that is statistically not true.

Power can expose women to even more harassment

The rate of sexual harassment that women in U.S. supervisory roles experienced was 50% higher than those in non-supervisory roles, according to one survey, and 100% higher, according to another.

Rising up the ranks is akin to sticking your head above the parapet. If you are a woman who is getting promoted high up on the ladder, more people know that you exist now. Some may hate that a company treats you as if you are now more important than them and are perhaps in a position to tell them what to do.

Others whom you are now equal in position to or approaching may attack you because you scare them. They did not feel threatened by you when you were just one member of the workforce. You were too far below them for them to consider you a threat. Now, they may fear you are coming for their posts or will pose a direct challenge to them in meetings you were not previously entitled to attend.

For these reasons, rising in the ranks at your employer’s company may not eliminate a risk of sexual harassment. However, learning how to take action when sexual harassment occurs can potentially help you to put a stop to it where you work, specifically.


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