Studies Reveal Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Harassment


The dominance of men appeared early in the human history. This unjust system of patriarchy was ruled for many years. And, today his ‘’leftovers’’ are still present in some cultures and societies. They are present , or ‘’buried’’ in people’s attitudes and expectations. It could be an attitude that strongly supports the superiority of men above women. Or, it could be an expectation that women should always be subordinated to the men’s free will. These types of attitudes, or views can easily ‘’activate’’ the system of patriarchy. And by triggering it women will again start to feel socially less important than men. They will begin to face a lot of discrimination. Discrimination, based solely on their gender or just by being a woman. Unfortunately this gender discrimination usually ‘’grows’’ in a behavior where men start to treat women as sexual objects. And, even though no one deserves to be perceived or treated as a sexual object, there are cultures, or places where sexual harassment is accepted as ‘’normal’’. So, I wonder could this belief of ‘’normal’’ behavior discourage some women to report the sexual harassment?


According to researchers , when sexual harassment is accepted as a socially normal behavior or a ‘’romantic’’ expression of feelings, then women usually start to blame themselves. They believe that their behavior is unprofessional. Or, their clothes are inappropriate. At the end this could make them feel guilty for being sexually harassed. And by feeling guilty, they will also feel discouraged for reporting it.

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But, researchers confirm that sexual harassment is just a tactic. It is a tactic to control or ‘’… a way for man to make a woman vulnerable.’’ as Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist,  defined in his own words. Furthermore, researchers explain that sexual harassment is more common in organizations or work places where women are a small minority. These organizations are very masculine, and hierarchical. The minority of women in this kind of organizations usually work ‘’men jobs’’ or jobs that are traditionally worked by men.

 The More Non-Traditional The Job For Women, The More Sexual Harassment 

Although most companies have policies against sexual harassment, still the women that work ‘’man jobs’’ are more sexually harassed than the women , who work the simple ‘’women job’’. This is confirmed in a study , that was conducted by Dr. Nancy Baker, a psychologist in Los Angeles . The study included 100 women, who were working in a factory. And ,’On all 28 items of a sexual harassment scale, the more non-traditional the job for women, the more sexual harassment. Women surgeons and investment bankers rank among the highest for harassment’’, indicated Dr Baker.

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Additionally Dr. Louise Fitzgerald, a psychologist at the University of Illinois concludes that only 25 % of the sexual harassments are careless seductions, where the man is simply trying to get some woman in bed. But, ‘’In less than 5 percent of cases the harassment involves a bribe or threat for sex, where the man is saying, ‘If you do this for me, I’ll help you at work, and if you don’t, I’ll make things difficult for you.‘ , said Dr. Louise Fitzgerald. She adds that most of the sexual harassments occur as an expression or proof of the male power.But, whether it is a tactic, a careless seduction , or a bribe, it still is , and it will be a sexual harassment. And , this kind of behavior where men dehumanize women, by treating them like sex toys needs to be publicly revealed by all women, who were mistreated.

How Many Women Actually Fight For Their Rights 

Unfortunately, not all women dare to file a legal complaint for being sexually harassed. It is affirmed in the research of Dr. Barbara Gutek, a psychologist at the University of Arizona. In this research she studied 832 working women. She discovered that form the half of the women that were victims of sexual harassment , no one has legally acknowledge it in front of the authorities. Also a meta-analysis study shows that only a quarter to a third of people who have been harassed at work report it to a supervisor and 2 % to 13 % of people tend to submit a formal complaint. This analysis was coordinated by Lilia Cortina of the University of Michigan and Jennifer Berdahl of the University of Columbia. So, the truth is that only small percent of women are real ‘heroes’. It is proven by several studies that only 3 % of women are brave enough to use the law on their side , and fight for their rights.

 Main Fears Why Women Did Not Reveal Harassment 

But, the women , who choose to remain as silent victims actually believe that seeking legal help would only cause more trouble. They think that it could create an atmosphere of hostility and tension from the superior, or they could be recognized as a bad employee. This was shown to be true in the study of a public-sector. Two-thirds of the employees who had confessed a sexual abuse, admitted that afterwards they felt some negative vibes from their colleagues, and “They become troublemakers — nobody wants to hire them or work with them anymore,” added Ms. Berdahl. Their fears were also proven to be true in the research of Dr. Fitzgerald.

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In his study he included 2000 women. They were all working at state universities. The findings ‘’released’’ all the hidden fears, that the victim women kept inside them.

  1. Fear, that they would not be believed of telling the truth, fear, that they will be known as ‘troublemakers’;
  2. fear, that they would lose their jobs,
  3. and fear that they will lose their own marriage.

Today  the culture in many companies can prevent women to fight the ‘’battle’’ of sexual harassment, especially when the harasser is a superstar. And the more powerful that person is, the less likely the woman will complain. But , “When you have an effective H.R. department that is supported by leadership, people feel safe about reporting harassment, it has a lot to do with the type of H.R. department: The motive is not the legal liability, but the culture you want, clarifies Bettina Deynes, the vice president of H.R. at the Society for Human Resource Management.

Is There An Emotional Side Of Sexual Harassment? 

However , there is also an emotional side of being sexually harassed. “Often women feel they have somehow caused the harassment,” specifies Dr.  Michelle Paludia psychologist at Hunter College. She analyzed that women who have been sexually assaulted were emotionally ‘’wounded’’, and hurt similarly like the woman , who were been raped, or abused.”We find gastrointestinal problems, eating disorders, anxiety attacks, insomnia, crying spells in women who have been victims of sexual harassment, whether or not they file a complaint.

And women feel helpless and afraid, or angry, anxious or depressed, clearly specified Dr. Paludi in her research. In order to avoid this emotional ‘roller coaster’, Dr. Paludi strongly believes that increasing the awareness about women’s fears, and hurtful feelings will stimulate more , and more women to speak ‘’loudly’’ about their experience of being harassed. And , that is very important. But at the end she concludes that “Raising awareness among men may be more important than getting women to complain’’.

Concluding Thoughts

For some people sexual harassment is just a harmless foreplay. And, for some is just a ‘’dirty’’ talk. However , these people are not truly aware that their little ‘’game’’ could leave serious consequences on someone’s life. It could really destroy their positive self-image. Or it could build a high emotional ‘barrier’ between them and other people.

Ending this ‘’nightmare’’ can be difficult. But , definitely not impossible. Nothing is impossible. I believe that we need to increase our awareness, and realize that sexual harassment could be really harmful for all women. Increasing the level of awareness will increase the level of courage in many women, who are victims of sexual harassment. They will be encouraged to fight for themselves. They will fight for a bigger self-respect, fora higher self-dignity, and fora deeper self-worth. And, by encouraging them to fight against this ‘’evil’’ of sexual harassment, we are actually encouraging the whole world to fight together.

How do you think men and women together can stop sexual harassment? Leave behind your thoughts in the comments section. Also subscribe with us for more such awesome articles.