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Sexual harassment is a big problem for women in construction

When it comes to employment options, gender lines have blurred substantially in recent decades. Women now hold positions in industries historically occupied by men, and they leave little doubt that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to exhibiting the skills, intelligence and fortitude needed to do the job.  

Few industries remain in which a woman would appear “out of place” on the job, but it remains a challenge in some arenas. For instance, breaking into a predominantly male industry, such as construction, is not an easy task for a woman. Even as you excel in this industry, you probably still face significant hurdles, such as sexual harassment, even in 2020.

The scope of the problem comes to light

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more women — and men for that matter — are coming forward to highlight the sexual harassment problem in the construction industry. Construction companies may say they don’t discriminate and that they hire the best people for the job, including women. They may also say they don’t condone sexual harassment, but that “enlightened” viewpoint doesn’t always trickle down to your supervisors and coworkers.

In fact, a study done just a couple of years ago indicates that approximately 66% of its respondents said they face sexual harassment on a regular basis, and 60% say they witnessed this behavior while on the job. If these numbers represent the industry as a whole, construction companies have a long way to go before they can say they protect women like you who work for them from behaviors ranging from inappropriate comments and touching to sexual assaults.

Why would you hesitate to come forward?

Even as construction companies say they don’t tolerate these types of behaviors, managers and supervisors still aren’t doing enough. Perhaps, when you did try to complain, you heard that you would ruin the career of the perpetrator if you said anything. Perhaps you are afraid of losing your job, or you are even more afraid of the retaliation you could face for filing a complaint. Policies are good on paper, but if everyone in the company does not adhere to them, they are worthless.

If you experience sexual harassment in your job in the construction industry, you should not feel as though you have to accept these behaviors. You have rights, and if your company won’t help you, you have the right to go outside of it for help. You and other women in your position deserve justice, and getting it starts with gaining an understanding of your rights and legal options.

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