You might be surprised to learn that certain types of women are more likely to be believed when they allege sexual harassment.
So suggests a recent study from the University of Washington. Researchers guided 4,065 male and female participants through a series of exercises that compared prototypical women – those who had stereotypically feminine features and were attractive, caring, sympathetic and nurturing – to non-prototypical women – those who embodied stereotypically male characteristics, physical features and traits such as dominance and competence.
Participants read a story about a woman who was sexually harassed by her male supervisor. Then they were instructed to draw a picture of the woman. In another exercise, the participants selected a sexual harassment victim from a series of six computer-generated images of females.
Allegations of sexual harassment were more likely to be believed when they were made by prototypical women than when they came from non-prototypical females, said the researchers.
Based on the results, it was suggested that non-prototypical women are less likely to report sexual harassment because they’re less likely to be believed.
Your takeaway: Treat all allegations of sexual harassment in the same manner, no matter the physical traits or the personalities of those making the claims.
(From the March 19, 2021, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription right now, please click here.)