New study suggests why women may not report sexual harassment


The Daily Illini File Photo

The University of Illinois police on campus.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

A University professor’s new research is pointing out that “miniature legal systems” might be one of the reasons why women don’t report sexual harassment.

Anna-Maria Marshall, sociology professor at the University and author of “Confronting Sexual Harassment: The Law and Politics of Everyday Life,” claims complaints are handled by “miniature legal systems” which are set up in business, government and other institutions.

Marshall discusses three reasons why a typical grievance procedure doesn’t work for women who experience sexual harassment.

The first reason is women may doubt themselves before getting to write complaints about the harasser’s behavior.

The second reason is that the “skepticism” and “discouragement” women are often met with after reporting, according to Marshall.

The third reason is even if women file a complaint, they may find that “little or nothing happens to the harasser.”

Marshall said liability and protecting the employer often becomes central concerns in the process, since sexual harassment is “extremely costly” to employers.

Instead of punishing the harassers, the companies might be more concerned about efficient operations since “sexual harassment makes it harder for teams to work together,” she said.

Even though the public is focusing on sexual harassment a lot more in recent weeks, Marshall doubts that real change will come in its wake.

Marshall said neither sexual harassment training nor other legal measures could do much to alter the condition because of what the employers would do to serve their own agendas while implementing the law.

Marshall suggests that women be inspired by the #MeToo movement and share their stories with others. She also said women should “collectivize their complaints in their use of grievance procedures.”

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