Canadian poll indicates generational differences are more important than just gender differences.
“Some of the deepest divisions in Canadian society on this issue of workplace sexual harassment are between men and women of the millennial generation,” the Angus Reid Institute said in releasing its survey on sexual harassment in the workplace. The oldest group of men (55 and older) surveyed — men of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s generation, and whose peers have been caught up in a stunning wave of sexualharassment scandals — were more in line with women’s views about what is — and isn’t — acceptable in the workplace. Young people of both genders were more laissez-faire about some behaviours, with nearly equal numbers saying it was okay to hug, send a selfie to or touch a colleague on the shoulder or arm when talking to them. But on the more egregious items on the list, “young men continue to say that each behaviour is acceptable at a much higher rate,” the pollster said. A third of millennial males said it was acceptable to express sexual interest in a co-worker compared to 19 per cent of younger women, and 12 per cent of older men; one in four said it was reasonable to make a comment about a colleague’s body. One in four approved of using “sexualized language” in a conversation at work, while only two per cent of older men agreed. The #MeToo conversation “has held up one segment of society as the blanket boogeyman in this,” specifically, “baby boomer males,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director of Angus Reid Institute. “I think our data in terms of what people are thinking and what their own mindsets are does run counter to that.” The findings, sociologists said, hint at the culture of pornography millennial men have grown up with as well as a desire to be seen as “properly masculine.” “I think the desire to be seen as strong, to be seen as a rainmaker may actually be confused with behaving in a sexually inappropriate way,” said Judith Taylor, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. “The question for young men is, how do they prove they are a reliable team player without offending women peers, and male peers for that matter, and without violating workplace policy,” Taylor said. “And the answer is they can’t do it the same way they join a sports team.” Overall, the survey of 2,004 Canadians exposes more generational than gender divides in attitudes around sexual harassment in the workplace. “Be it male columnists decrying an apparent lack of due process when it comes to allegations of sexual harassment, or female commentators dismissing the feeble excuses of admitted abusers, the current public narrative may lead Canadians to think that gender alone is a massive, dividing driver of opinion,” Angus Reid said in a release. “That is not necessarily the 2/5
case.” Overall, half of all women surveyed said they had experienced harassing behaviour in their working lives. âI think the desire to be seen as strong, to be seen as a rainmaker may actually be confused with behaving in a sexually inappropriate way,â says one sociologist. Getty Images Among women who were willing to answer the question, more than half (52) per cent said they have been sexually harassed at work at some point in their lives, with older women — likely by virtue of being in the workforce longer — more likely to report harassment. Harassment was defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and other verbal (nontouching) conduct of a sexual nature.” More than one in five men (22 per cent) said the same. More than one in four women (28 per cent) willing to answer questions about sexual harassment said they have experienced non-consensual sexual touching — technically, sexual assault. Older women were more likely to say they have been assaulted (37 per cent), but one in five women aged 18 to 24 also reported experiencing assault. And younger women were more likely to have been harassed within the last one to two years, older women’s experiences were more likely to have occurred six years ago or more. Most women said they didn’t report the assault to their employer. 3/5