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Study shows high rate of harassment in anthropology work

Sexual harassment can happen in any job. However, it tends to be more prevalent in fields that have been traditionally dominated by men. To that end, a recent study showed alarming rates of sexual harassment against female anthropologists and anthropology graduate students.

According to the study, which was conducted by a professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, approximately 20 percent of female bioanthropologists who responded to the survey reported that they had been the victims of either physical sexual harassment or unwanted sexual contact.

The risk of sexual assault or harassment is particularly high during fieldwork, where researchers spend significant amounts of time working in remote locations. Many of the perpetrators were superiors or the victims' own mentor.

The study's author said she decided to research the topic after a friend confided that she had been raped by a colleague during her fieldwork. Her mentor had pressured her to keep quiet out of worry that rape allegations could tarnish the victim's career.

Indeed, many harassment victims are faced with very difficult decisions to make. If they report the abuse, they risk retaliation from the aggressor and their colleagues. But, if they quit their field work or do not publish their research, they may find it very difficult to get a job after school or to advance professionally.

No one should have to tolerate working in a hostile work environment. If you or a loved one has been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, talk to an experienced employment law attorney. The attorney will be able to work with you to determine the best plan for moving forward.

Source: Science, "Survey Finds Sexual Harassment in Anthropology," John Bohannon, April 13, 2013

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