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Anthropologists Study the Prevalence of Sexual Harassment

Author: Sexual Harassment Attorney Alena Shautsova

Anthropology is the science that studies mankind in terms of physical and cultural development including biological characteristics, social customs and beliefs. As in many other scientific areas, scientists engage in fieldwork in remote and uncivilized locations. According to an article in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the anthropologist authoring the study, Kathryn Clancy, discovered that more than 20 percent of female bio-anthropologists participating in the study had experienced physical sexual harassment or unwanted sexual contact. Most of the victims were female and their own colleagues were the main sources of sexual harassment, not the cultural communities involved in their study.

Clancy got the idea for the survey when she discovered a fellow female colleague had been traumatized by a rape in the field at the hands of another colleague who was her mentor. Under threat of ruining her career, the mentor had persuaded her to remain silent.

Through an online survey, Clancy obtained responses from 98 women and 23 men. The survey revealed the following:

  • Verbal abuse based on inappropriate sexual remarks at field sites was frequent according to 30 percent of men and women surveyed
  • Sixty-three percent of women and 39 percent of men experienced sexual remarks about physical beauty, cognitive sex differences or jokes
  • Twenty-one percent of women and one out of 23 men experienced physical sexual harassment or unwanted sexual contact
  • Sexual abuse ranged from subtle gender exclusion and inappropriate remarks about a woman's body to groping and sexual assault
  • Less than 20 percent of the abuse involved the community being studied at the field site and most of the abuse originated from researchers in higher professional positions than the colleague being victimized

The author also reported that female anthropologists do not come forward because of the adverse effect that "failing to complete and publish research, and/or loss of letters of recommendation" can have on their careers as scientists.

Despite the threats, it is your civil right to be free from sexual harassment in the work environment. If you are the victim of sexual harassment, find out how to protect your rights and discuss your situation with a New York discrimination lawyer.

16 May 2013
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