One of the most frequently suggested solutions to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace is to move more women into positions of authority. As supervisors, managers and executives, women might be in a better position to move a company’s culture in a direction that won’t allow such things to happen as easily.
Except that women at the top of the corporate ladder aren’t immune from sexual harassment. In fact, some sexual harassers may be motivated to act because they’re confronted with a woman who in charge at their workplace. The mere fact that she’s in a position of authority over them can prompt some men to feel resentful and angry — and they behave accordingly.
Sexual harassment is seldom about sex. It’s usually more about the thrill that an abuser gets from dominating, humiliating or degrading the victim — and that can happen even when the victim is supposedly higher in authority than the perpetrator.
How? Because women may feel ashamed and embarrassed by being victimized. Women in authority, in particular, may be afraid that admitting that they were harassed by an underling would make them look “weak” or somehow incompetent — which can fit neatly into an abuser’s designs. Other women, especially those in male-dominated fields, may buy into the idea that they need to “take it” to somehow show that they can make in the industry.
Just because you’re in an elevated position in your company doesn’t mean you can’t be the victim of sexual harassment or other kinds of abuses. Maybe the harassment comes from above — but it could just as easily start with someone who is officially beneath you in the company’s hierarchy. Find out what you can do to protect your interests and assert your rights today.