Industrial Organizational Psychology
Is there such a thing as sexual harassment against men in the workplace? Why are there so few cases of sexual harassment against men reported? Are there any differences between the sexual harassment of men versus women? What about same sex sexual harassment? While there is currently very little known about the prevalence and/or effects of sexual harassment of males in the workplace today, research that I have reviewed on this topic has uncovered some of the answers to these questions and more.
Sexual Harassment of Men: What is Currently Known?
Sexual harassment is legally defined in Canada as "any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee" (HRSDC, 2004). This definition was originally written with respect to women who face harassment because they are the ones most likely to be affected by it in the workplace (Berdahl, Magley, & Waldo, 1996).
However, the law does applies to both sexes, and acknowledgement of sexual harassment against males has gained some acceptance and from the social science fields beginning in the early 1990's thanks in part to the media and the slowly changing gender role definitions that began in the early 1970's (Maki, Moore, Grunberg, & Greenberg, 2005).
The emotional effects of sexual harassment are similar between men and women and range from feelings of anxiety and stress as well as anger, depression, embarrassment and humiliation (HRSDC, 2004). Most victims are hesitant to report cases of sexual harassment because they may feel embarrassed and ashamed and they feel that their workplace and coworkers will not support them or believe them (HRSDC, 2004). These reasons are even more prevalent with males because of traditional male gender roles that require men to be strong and emotionally stable (Lee,