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Women in supervisory positions face more sexual harassment

Women in Missouri and elsewhere are more likely to be subjected to workplace sexual harassment if they are in supervisory positions, according to a new study. The findings run counter to the long-held assumption that sexual harassment is more related to power than sex.

For the study, researchers at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University surveyed workers in Sweden, Japan and the United States. Even though the cultures differ among those countries, they found that female supervisors were almost universally more likely to experience sexual harassment than women who were not in supervisory positions. Specifically, they found that female supervisors working in Sweden were 30% more likely to face sexual harassment, those working in the U.S. were 50% more likely to be harassed and those working in Japan were 100% more likely to be subjected to harassment. In addition, the researchers found that the risk of getting sexually harassed went up in all three countries when a female supervisor's subordinates were mostly male.

The authors of the study said their findings show that women in supervisory positions are exposed to multiple sources of harassment. For example, a woman working in middle management could be harassed by both her subordinates and those working above her. However, that exposure tapered off as women rose to the top ranks of a company.

Sexual harassment can come in many forms, including unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments, inappropriate attention, sex discrimination, a hostile work environment and wrongful termination. Workers who face such harassment might find relief by speaking to an employment attorney about their situation. After reviewing the case, the attorney may recommend filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state agency. This might lead to a settlement that covers damages such as lost pay, lost benefits and mental anguish.

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