Workplace Sexual Harassment

Women are raising their voices about unwanted and unacceptable behavior that creates yet another barrier to their success. Let's make sure those voices are heard!

Why It Matters

The Devastating Impact

As the #MeToo movement made disturbingly clear, sexual assault and harassment persist throughout American institutions and present yet another set of obstacles to women’s advancement. And though Title VII protects women in the workplace, one study found that 34% of female employees say they have been sexually harassed by a colleague. AAUW’s recent report, Limiting Our Livelihoods, documents the effects of harassment:

  • Threatens women’s mental health and physical safety: Psychologists report that sexual harassment can lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. And organizational behaviorists link it to an increased risk of long-term physical health problems. 
  • Erodes women’s short- and long-term economic security: In AAUW’s survey, 38% of women who’d been harassed said it contributed to their decision to leave a job early, and 37% said it disrupted their career advancement. When women decrease their hours or leave their job to avoid a harasser, it reduces their wages and ability to save and build wealth.
  • Contributes to the leadership gap: Women who attempt to avoid their harasser can miss out on valuable on-the-job training and mentorship — which are critical in helping women rise into leadership positions. 
Research

Limiting Our Livelihoods

Workplace sexual harassment impacts women of all ages and in all sectors. The negative effects compound over time, reducing women’s lifetime earnings and contributing to both the gender and retirement wage gaps.

Read the Report
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Policy Center

Policy Recommendations: Workplace Sexual Harassment

New laws and policies are needed to battle the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. See which federal and state actions AAUW supports in the fights to end workplace harassment.

Faces of AAUW

Zero Tolerance

Women tell us they’ve left jobs, changed their career paths and suffered both physically and mentally as a result of being harassed in the workplace. And fear of retaliation for reporting is unfortunately too often based in reality. It’s time to change workplace climates and cultures so sexual harassment is not tolerated.

Take Action

There are lots of ways to get involved with AAUW’s work to advance gender equity. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of women and girls.

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