What we missed: Wage gap perpetuates sexual harassment


Ella Litchfield

Economic equality has been considered over the years as a perpetuating factor for the possibility of workplace sexual harassment.

Ella Litchfield, Photo Manager

Women have been abused since the beginning of time through powers initiated by men. One of these powers is money which places women at a lower status to men through the wage gap. This control is also hypothesized to facilitate an excuse for sexual harassment within American society. 

In cases of sexual harassment allegations, women can feel trapped by their position in a company when it is inferior to their attacker. This was the case for low-status actresses abused by Harvey Weinstein.

Lauren Holly recalls a moment when she faced Weinstein’s abuse of power. “He began to get angry,” Holly explained. “I began to get really afraid. He told me that I would make a bad decision if I got out of there. I pushed him and ran.” Holly revisits this hotel experience with Weinstein in an interview with canadian talk show, “The Social”.

As Weinstein approaches Holly in the hotel room, the actress rejects him and Holly is later threatened by the producer’s team to not reveal their encounter to the media as to protect both of their careers. 

This is an example of power that may allow someone to abuse women in their field and escape unscathed. However, even men at an equal level position to a woman can manage the same abuse because men are treated in the American economy as financially superior. 

This is confirmed by the National Partnership for Women from their findings, “Women in the United States are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual gender wage gap of $10,157.”

Abused women within a business are held back by their harassment and the wage gap. In some cases, these two factors have a lasting effect on a woman’s career if they are unable to recover from the trauma caused by their harassment. 

The National Partnership for Women and Families found surprising results from their research on harassment in the workplace, “in businesses and establishments that do not address sexual harassment women may feel less empowered to negotiate salaries and raises which can ultimately reduce their long-term earnings and advancement.” This organization represents the disadvantage and lack of recognition of sexual harassment cases. 

Women feel unable to escape from abusers because of their financial insecurities and therefore disadvantaged to their male counterparts. 

Fellow PV students recognize these issues and deem them questionable as they enter the workforce. More specifically, senior Alyssa Rodriguez addresses her nervousness in providing for herself as a future adult. “The rise in public harassment cases make me realize that I don’t feel completely safe and equally respected in any job that I am offered.” 

Rodriguez described “This can easily affect me as a high school student and a lack of knowledge on these present issues can put me in a very vulnerable position.” 

Underage workers have to prepare themselves for these dangerous circumstances because of the normalization of abusive tendencies. With a lack of evidence these are difficult crimes to prove and there are little to no preventative circumstances because of a lack of data to support accusations. 

The Times Up Foundation displayed their surveyed research for examples on possible abuse in the workplace, “One 2019 study, showed that 38 percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, and 81 percent of women reported experiencing assault or harassment of some kind in their lifetime.” These cases are very difficult without multiple witnesses or standard evidence. 

Women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment have major concerns with exposing their abusers. Possible options in escaping these circumstances can halt or destroy a woman’s career. 

Kat Goumas, senior at PV, has an opinion on the possible effects of revealing an abuser at worker, “I have worried about the circumstance of sexual harassment and how I would respond to it.” 

Said Goumas, “my concern falls with the company reaction to an accusation. More than likely, the management will do nothing without complete evidence and the victim’s sacrifice will cost her career and she will be left without a solution.” There are consistent worries surrounding harassment in the workplace and what it means for the victims. 

Notions to take from these findings should convince American society to take more responsibility and notice of assault accusations. By taking notice of these crimes, the wage gap may become desolate to make room for equality between the sexes.