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Ninety-four percent of women working in entertainment have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault during their careers, according to a new survey of hundreds of women in Hollywood.
According to the survey, which was published Tuesday in USA Today and produced as a collaboration of the newspaper, the Creative Coalition, Women in Film and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the most frequent incidents of harassment in the Hollywood workplace are unwelcome sexual comments, jokes or gestures directed to a woman or about a woman (87 percent of respondents said they experienced such comments).
Other experiences reported by the majority of respondents include unwanted sexual comments (75 percent of respondents saw or experienced it), “being touched in a sexual way” (69 percent), witnessing colleagues advancing in the workplace due to sexual relationships with higher-ups (65 percent) and being propositioned for a sexual activity in the workplace (64 percent).
Meanwhile, 39 percent of women reported being shown sexual pictures that they did not welcome, 29 percent said someone had exposed themselves to them, 21 percent said they had been forced to perform a sexual act and 10 percent were ordered to appear naked without forewarning in auditions.
The survey was conducted online between Dec. 14-Jan. 14 and completed by 1,843 women in entertainment, working in a variety of roles. All participants were members of Women in Film and the Creative Coalition, which were sent the mailer. The pool led to some limitations for the study, USA Today notes: “As a self-selected sample of respondents, it is not scientifically representative of the entire industry, let alone the broader national population of women working in all industries.”
Only 1 in 4 women reported the alleged misconduct, according to the study, and reporting rates, which ranged from 20 to 27 percent, did not differ majorly depending on the type of sexual harassment. Of those that did report sexual misconduct, just 28 percent reported that their work situation got better after disclosure; in most cases (32 percent), the alleged harasser was given a talking-to; and in zero percent of cases did the report lead to prosecution. Meanwhile, 24 percent of women said they had left a workplace because of an incident of harassment.
The study also looks at how age and work experience affect incidents of harassment: Women younger than 30 were “significantly” (9 to 16 percent) more likely to report harassment or assault than their older colleagues, while older women were more likely to experience inappropriate workplace situations, such as attending meetings in a hotel room and being asked for sex in exchange for promotions.
Alleged perpetrators, the study says, were “male, older and for the most part more powerful than their accusers”: 29 percent commanded leadership positions in the industry, such as directors, agents and producers; 24 percent were peers or colleagues; and 20 percent were supervisors or senior managers.
“Quite simply, the survey opens a window that can no longer be shut. From the office, to the dorm room, to everyday life, sexual harassment, assault, and rape are an epidemic. The time for change is now,” Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk said in a statement about the study. “With every new voice that speaks up, another person is empowered to tell their story. Another person calls out harassment. Another person becomes an ally in the fight against assault. We all must continue to speak up and demand change. We must maintain the momentum of this pivotal movement.”
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