When the guys just don’t want you

This is a great op-ed piece about the case of one of the female firefighters involved in the CBC story I cited in my last post. It has some more national, global background on the larger issue of workplace harassment in Canada. Here is an excerpt:

If there is one thing Prokopetz can take comfort in, it is that she is not alone. The Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children released a report last October on workplace harassment and violence, which documents a frightening picture of what many women put up with in the workplace.

The report is dedicated to Theresa Vince. In case you don’t recognize her name, she was a Human Resources training administrator at Sears in Chatham, Ont., who was murdered by her boss in 1996. He had harassed her for years.

In the report, women spoke about losing their jobs or careers, and being labelled as troublemakers if they complained. Harassment affected their families, and plagued them with feelings of guilt and self-doubt long after the incidents. Many women put up with workplace harassment because they were worried they wouldn’t be believed, or didn’t think it was worth it.

Many people still consider harassment imagined. They say it doesn’t exist, women are oversensitive, it couldn’t happen in this day and age. But the women in this report had real experiences. One spoke of seeing pornography everywhere in her workplace and having both her supervisors and co-workers tell her she wasn’t wanted there.

Another woman spoke of being touched by her supervisor and being afraid to complain about it. Instead she put up with it, as so many women do.

The most recent national statistics are from the 1993 Violence Against Women Survey, which showed that more than two million women reported having experienced at least one incident during their working lives.

Aysan Sev’er, a University of Toronto professor who has done research in the area, feels things have improved but there is still a problem. She says, “There are certain very male dominated environments, and sexual harassment has not been totally eliminated. The majority of government organizations, as well as big business and universities, have really tried preventative measures and there have been positive effects to those.”

The most recent stats are from as long ago as 1993??