How deeply rooted are workplace harassment issues?

Gender-related harassment issues continue to dominate the headlines and our social-media feeds. But what does it mean? Are the stories of sexual harassment, such as the ongoing situation at Michigan State University, isolated incidents or do they reveal something more profound about the American workplace?

Pew Research has dug into those questions and conducted several inquiries regarding gender issues. Here are key findings from those surveys.

Workplace sexual harassment

In a survey conducted in late July 2017, before the #MeToo movement caught fire, 22 percent of female respondents said they have experienced workplace sexual harassment, compared to 7 percent for men. Surveys conducted later in the year reported more than 30 percent of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment.

Gender discrimination

At work, 42 percent of women said they have suffered discrimination based on gender. The survey asked Americans whether they had faced any of eight different kinds of discrimination in the workplace, including: being treated as if they were incompetent; experiencing repeated slights; and receiving less support from senior leaders than men doing the same job.

Peer pressure

Nearly half of all men (45 percent) said they face pressure to join in when other men talk about women in a sexual way. Among Millennial men, 61 percent say this pressure exists.

Online harassment

Online harassment is a major problem, according to 70 percent of women. Among men, 54 percent believe online harassment is a major problem. Pew defined online harassment using six categories: offensive name-calling, purposeful embarrassment, physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment, or harassment over a sustained period of time.

Firsthand experience with online sexual harassment

Among adult women age 18 to 29, twenty one (21) percent said they have been sexually harassed online. "Women ages 18 to 29 are more than twice as likely as men in the same age group to report being sexually harassed online (21 percent vs. 9 percent)," Pew said.

Women ages 18 to 24 are more than three times as likely as men to say they've been sexually harassed online (20 percent for women compared to 6 percent for men).

How you can get help

Sadly, the Pew research indicates that sexual harassment is not uncommon. If you have questions about sexual harassment or gender discrimination, contact an experienced employment law attorney.