Women active in feminist causes harassed more at work

Apr 12, 2013
Women active in feminist causes harassed more at work

Working women who engage in feminist activism report more experiences of gender harassment on the job, regardless of whether or not they identify themselves as feminists, a new University of Michigan study indicates.

"A woman who personally adopts the feminist label may not 'out' herself as such to others," said Kathryn Holland, the study's lead author and a in women's studies and psychology. "Women openly engaging in activism for women's rights may pose a more obvious threat to the existing gender hierarchy—a hierarchy that grants more power to men than women."

U-M researchers examined how feminism relates to women's experiences of unwanted sexual and sexist conduct in the workplace. They assessed two indicators of feminism: self-identification as "feminist" and engaging in feminist activism.

"Feminism directly questions male privilege, so men may perceive feminist women as a source of threat," Holland said. "Men may therefore feel greater motivation to sexually harass women who endorse feminist ideology."

The study also measured and gender harassment—the latter involving sexist remarks or jokes, crude behavior and discriminatory work/family policies.

Holland and her co-author Lilia Cortina, an associate professor of psychology and women's studies, analyzed data from 424 women about their work experience. More than half—219 women, or 53 percent—identified themselves as feminist. About 40 percent—or 167 women—engaged in some form of feminist activism, such as signing a petition or giving money to a cause. Among those who indicated they were feminists, 78 percent reported they did not engage in any form of activism while the remaining 22 percent did.

About 79 percent (335 women) described at least one sexual harassing during the prior year.

While feminists reported less gender harassment than women who did not identify as feminist, feminist activists experienced more harassment compared to non-activist women. Holland says a possible explanation is that feminist activism is an observable behavior (which could trigger harassment), but feminist identity is not.

In addition, perhaps other negative work experiences (such as gender discrimination or poor family-friendly policies) motivate women to engage in feminist activism and leading them to feel dissatisfied with their jobs.

"Sexual harassment can be devastating to women, both personally and professionally. However, we found evidence that engagement in feminist activism may help protect against or remediate some negative occupational outcomes," Holland said.

The intersection of feminism and presents working women with a catch-22, she says.

"On one hand, behavioral displays of feminism could prompt sexist and sexualized hostilities from co-workers," Holland said. "On the other hand, not engaging with could increase the chance that women will suffer professionally if harassed, not to mention the fact that avoiding feminist activism diverts energy from a cause committed to advancing in employment."

The findings appear in the current issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly: pwq.sagepub.com/content/early/… 361684313482873.full

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User comments : 5

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ForFreeMinds
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2013
Lacking from this report, is what exactly the author means by "feminist activism". Signing a petition or giving money to a cause doesn't really say much (it might be a petition to make gay marriage illegal AFAIK).

Also lacking, is justification for the statement that "the existing gender hierarchy—a hierarchy that grants more power to men than women." Exactly what power(s) would this be? This isn't reality. As far as I know, the only power a man has in the USA, that a woman does not, is the power to produce sperm.

The author might have something if she distinguished between feminists who believe women should be free to decide what the do in life without peer pressure, and those who want to use government force to deal with actions of others that anger them (e.g. those who advocate government set wages for each profession so there isn't discrimination based on sex, or those who want to jail men for rude speech).
kochevnik
2 / 5 (4) Apr 12, 2013
Feminism in USA is zionist effort launched by Rockefeller and other corporate fascists after their failed overthrow of Wilson in their 1933 coup. Instead they decided to uncouple children from parents so as to make them mental wards of state. Dykes as CIA's Gloria Steinem were paid to spread fascist feminist ideology through zionist bankster media channels

In contrast Russian feminism is not zionist controlled and Russian women are openly feminine and not at war with themselves
Modernmystic
3.2 / 5 (5) Apr 12, 2013
"Feminism directly questions male privilege, so men may perceive feminist women as a source of threat," Holland said. "Men may therefore feel greater motivation to sexually harass women who endorse feminist ideology."


Maybe feminist activists tend to be more sensitive and define harassment differently than other segments of society too...

In fact the name itself (by definition) basically concedes this point. Why not identify as a "humanist" rather than by your gender? It's an oppositional and reactionary mindset to begin with IMO.
Sean_W
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2013
Dongle dongle dongle dongle dongle dongle dongle dongle dongle dongle.
Sean_W
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2013
So these women are minding there own business, quietly questioning men's "privilege" and pointing out their hateful adherence to patriarchy hate norms, when men somehow out them regarding their brilliantly occluded awareness of gender issues and start an unprovoked campaign of sexual harassment against these women. Got it. Living in a bog eating beetle grubs is an idea that looks better and better as time goes by.