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Sexual harassment at work

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Human Rights
Wordcount: 1412 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Sexual Harassment

In today’s society, men in the organisation understand how to achieve higher positions than women. Indeed, culturally, character, style and ability between men and women are clearly different. There are several things that cause men to be more superior to women, regardless of physical affairs. For example, men are more rational and realistic, more competitive, more courageous, more initiative, and more aggressive. But that does not mean women should always be less than men. As women who live in the modern era of today, there should be a pathway to higher position and achievement in their careers. However women still need to be aware of various barriers that may prevent them from doing so.

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Nowadays, jobs such as director, manager or even chief executive officer (CEO) position are open to those women capable of filling these demanding positions. Now that women have slowly begun to make their way into organisation studies, the rate of issue such as sexual harassment is now becoming more popular, “when men and women involve in an emotional closeness may be a positive experience, but sexual harassment is not. Sexual harassment is illegal (Samson & Daft, 2006). This assignment will further discuss how the issue of sexual harassment has an effect on women’s participation in the workplace.

Sexual harassment is any form of sexual connotation or behaviour that may be unilateral and unwanted by the person targeted. The result of sexual abuse may lead victims to feel ashamed, angry, humiliated, offended, and disgusted with the perpetrator. Sexual harassment can happen at any and all levels of an organisation.

Women who are moving up the corporate hierarchy by entering male-dominated industries report a high frequency of harassment (Samson & Daft, 2006). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) combats sexual harassment by making illegal the acceptance of harassment as a condition of employment, using compliance or not to affect employment decisions with regard to the individual or creating a hostile working environment which may affect the individual performance.

Itzin (1995) conducted a major research project with an aim to improving women’s position within a local authority organisation. Itzin describes a five part methodology using a survey, interviews, group discussions, statistical data and participant observation to explore the culture and practices of the organisation and to collect data on the position and experience of women.

According to Itzin’s survey results (1995, p.33), the majority of women in the organisation were ‘breadwinners’, they work either to support themselves or their families. Most women said they work because they want ‘to pursue a career’ and ‘self fulfilment’. Therefore by looking at this result, Itzin (1995, p.33) suggested ‘that there may be a little difference between the reasons why men and women work and the economic and emotional significance which they attach to their work.”

Aside from sexual harassment there are various reasons why women are still far behind men. Through this table (1995, p.34) and diagram, Itzin shows the percentage of women had worked for the local authority for more than seven years and still yet not made any progression to their career .

Reasons for women not applying for or not getting another job



At a disadvantage because of job sharing


Lack of encouragement


Obstruction from supervisors


Sexist Attitudes


Racist Attitudes


Lack of confidence


Lack of interview or job application skills


Lack of skills or qualifications necessary for the job


Promotion is all what it takes for women to achcieve a higher position. Male management restrict women’s chances of prmotion by not providing suitable child care facilities or flexible school holiday arrangements. Itzin (1995, p.38) stated that “Managers do not encourage women to go for promotion,they said, or administrative staff to cross over into profession. They drew attention to the fact that ‘admin is dominated by women, but men are at the senior level.’They thought women were better organizers and lateral thinkers than men, but management jobs were less attractive to women because they’ take you away from dealing with people’ and consequently provide less job satisfication.” According to Itzin, Women have to out performed men to get equal recognition and position and tend to have less power than men in the same position.

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Even though sex segregation is not exactly sexual harassment, but it is still discriminates against women in the organisation. Williams (1995) says that sex segregation almost always occurs in every organization and workplace, where males are in higher positions with higher salaries than women. There are various researches that show that sex segregation is a major obstacle for career women. This manifests as inequality in terms of salary, authority, opportunity in promotions and career advancement. Women are more often placed in a lower position with a smaller salary and without the opportunity to gain promotion (Hossain & Kusakabe, 2005).

Glass Ceiling discrimination may leads women to have feelings of low self-esteem, slowing down of interest in their jobs and decreased their motivation. The glass ceiling effect is a distinct limiter to a woman’s advancement into the higher level of corporate management and directorship. ‘“Ceiling” stresses the limitation of upward progress a woman is subjected to and “glass” refers to the fact that though the limitation is apparently not written in any rule book, it is nevertheless a defeated fact understood by both the sexes.’ (ayushveda, 2009). In theory, the effect of the glass ceiling can generally be viewed from two sides such as the demand side and supply side. On the demand side, from outside of the woman’s appearance, such as discrimination in the workplace, a culture of “office man” who is very dominant, work rules, and so forth. The glass ceiling in some cases can usually be overcome by using the supply side; it is something that is offered by the woman herself. These aspects include the choice of labour supply, quality of resources, skills possessed, and so forth.

Every company toughest challenge that they need to face is to deal with sexual harassment issues. One of the best ways to prevent this situation is to make a sexual harassment policy. Companies must make a written rule that contains the company’s commitment to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The content of the policy should include the notion of what constitutes sexual harassment, grievance procedures, and punishments that should be meted out to the perpetrators. It should also have counselling available to the victims and the assurance that the complaint made is confidential. Ensure all employees, supervisors, managers, directors, clients are aware of the written rules. Hence the human resource people need to take serious action to ensure that rules are obeyed.

In conclusion, there are many courses of action that can be taken by companies and individuals in addressing issues such as sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace. One important thing to note is that the right to pursue a career does not solely belong to men but women are also equally entitled. Although awareness in the workplace of women’s right is growing, there is still much to be done to truly have equal opportunity without the threat of sexual harassment and discrimination for women.


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