Monday, December 11, 2017

Sexual Harassment Training Doesn’t Work. But Some Things Do.

ny times

Many people are familiar with typical corporate sexual harassment training: clicking through a PowerPoint, checking a box that you read the employee handbook or attending a mandatory seminar at which someone lectures about harassment while attendees glance at their phones.
At best, research has found, that type of training succeeds in teaching people basic information, like the definition of harassment and how to report violations. At worst, it can make them uncomfortable, prompting defensive jokes, or reinforce gender stereotypes, potentially making harassment worse. Either way, it usually fails to address the root problem: preventing sexual harassment from happening in the first place.
That’s because much of the training exists for a different reason altogether. Two 1998 Supreme Court cases determined that for a company to avoid liability in a sexual harassment case, it had to show that it had trained employees on its anti-harassment policies.

But while training protects companies from lawsuits, it can also backfire by reinforcing gender stereotypes, at least in the short term, according toresearch by Justine Tinkler, a sociologist at the University of Georgia. That’s because it tends to portray men as powerful and sexually insatiable and women as vulnerable. Her research has shown this effect no matter how minimal the training. “It puts women in a difficult position in terms of feeling confident and empowered in the workplace,” she said.
Other research found that training that described people in a legal context, as harassers or victims, led those being trained to reject it as a waste of time because they didn’t think the labels applied to them, known as an “identity threat reaction,” said Shannon Rawski, a professor of business at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Training was least effective with people who equated masculinity with power. “In other words, the men who were probably more likely to be harassers were the ones who were least likely to benefit,” said Eden King, a psychologist at Rice University.

Training is essential but not enough, researchers say. To actually prevent harassment, companies need to create a culture in which women are treated as equals and employees treat one another with respect.


  1. It seems to me that some women enjoy the idea of talking to a man. And so they will just start talking AT a man, without getting his permission. Now the man is in an awkward position. If he ignores the woman, tells her to go away, or be quiet, etc. the woman may go ballistic. And I'm not talking about work related talk. The woman just out of nowhere starts talking about non-work related issues.

    What's the man to do? If he leaves, and the woman goes ballistic, his reputation is harmed. But he may smile and nod and make murmurings. Which just means he's more likely to be harassed in the future by same said woman. And more likely she'll go ballistic if he declines to speak to heron the future.

    Why isn't this ear-rape type of sexual harassment ever discussed?

  2. The things that work are the things the Torah teaches us. For example, no yichud. No touching. No frivilous talking. No looking at women more than minimally necessary. Women dressing modestly, covering through their elbows, knees, neckline and no tight clothing.


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