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Nearly 1 in 5 Female Federal Employees Reports Experiencing Sexual Harassment

A new survey by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) called Sexual Harassment Trends in the Federal Workplace has been released in the Fall 2017 issue of Issues of Merit, the MSPB’s quarterly publication, and represents the body’s first such look into the issue since publishing a similar report in 1995. The early release of key data precedes the release of a still-forthcoming full report.

Many of the overall trends were positive. In 1994, 19% of male employees and 44% of female employees indicated they had “experienced at least one occasion of sexual harassment” in their workplace in the preceding two years. Those figures are down to 6% and 18%, respectively, in the new data. This decrease also corresponds to a decrease in each of the eight individual categories of behaviors tracked by the data. These changes contrast favorably to the trends between the 1995 report and its predecessor in 1988, as the data remained unchanged despite the intervening 7 years.

Importantly, despite the apparent positive trends, the report notes that “sexual harassment is still occurring,” with nearly one in five women reporting having experienced such behaviors, and with women in general being “more than three times as likely as men to say that they have experienced one or more sexual harassment behaviors in the past 2 years.”

The early-look report notes that “although progress has clearly been made in reducing the frequency of sexual harassment, agencies need to continue working to educate employees about their rights and responsibilities in terms of their conduct in the workplace,” promising that the MSPB will use its upcoming full report as an opportunity to “delve further into the types and frequency of sexual harassment behaviors, risk factors that appear to increase one’s likelihood for being exposed to harassment, as well as strategies for preventing and addressing sexual harassment.”

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Tags: sexual harassment



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