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Workplace sexual harassment training: a downside for women?

We noted in a blog post last week that state legislators have been decidedly fixated on the subject of gender-based pay disparity in California workplaces. Our October 8 entry discussed Senate Bill 358, new legislation just enacted into law by Gov. Jerry Brown that seeks to provide greater protections to workers bringing gender-based claims and make it harder for bad-faith employers to successfully defend against them.

Today's post and a follow-up entry later in the week seem to us to provide for a quite reasonable continuation of that theme, at least in a generally loose fashion.

Here's why: In a recent op-ed article appearing in the Los Angeles Times, a psychologist and university lecturer on gender argues that pay parity and the general empowerment of women in the workplace might be suffering as the result of a state-mandated program aimed at ensuring impartiality and safety.

About 10 years have passed, notes Kim Elsesser, since employers across the state were first tasked to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their workers. Elsesser concedes that, while obvious benefits have accrued from the initiative, "some unintended effects … are obstructing rather than helping women in their careers."

Elsesser takes an in-depth dive into the subject matter, arguing that inherent flaws in formally mandated sexual harassment training programs yield materially adverse results for many career-aspiring women, as well as portray them in a manner that militates against on-the-job promotion.

We'll take a closer look at her major contentions in our next blog post. We believe that many readers will find her points both interesting and well-taken.