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How Sexual Harassment Contributes To Exacerbating The Gender-Pay Gap

Gender empowerment is stronger than ever—even more so in the workplace. We’re seeing more female CEOs, more key positions in the government taken by females, and more women working beside men in lucrative fields.

But while the playing field is tilting, it is still far from even. According to Bloomberg, gender-pay gap is still at 80 percent for nearly two decades, which means men still earn far more than women in all industries.

Sexual harassment is also still as pervasive as ever. Yes, there have been huge strides all over the world such as in the cases of Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, House of Cards star Kevin Spacey, and Today show host Matt Lauer, who were all slapped with sexual harassment cases before last year ended. In the Philippines, most recently, people have spoken out against band Jensen and the Flips after allegations of sexual harassment were made against the band members. New York Times is getting on the momentum and will released an anti-sexual harassment ad at the Golden Globes.

Despite the continuing efforts of many female and human rights group to call for the end to sexual harassment, add to that local government efforts to punish men who have been caught expressing unsolicited or unwanted sexual advances towards women, many women still remain mum and fall victim to men.

In a 2016 study conducted by the Safe Cities Metro Manila program, 3 in 5 women admitted that they have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their lifetime. The same study also noted that 1 in 7 women received unwarranted sexual advances at least once a week. And while majority of these cases remain verbal in the form of “Hi, Sexy” and the like, a huge 34 percent of women say that they were groped, harassed in public, or even consciously flashed private parts.

This evil state do persist in the workplace, according to a study by Amy Blackstone, Christopher Uggen, and Heather McLaughlin. In fact, sexual harassment would prove to be directly affecting women’s performance and tenure in the workplace.

According to Bloomberg, Blackstone, Uggen, and McLaughlin’s study found that 80 percent of women who have experienced sexual advances in the office left their jobs within two years. Who wouldn’t? Who would want to remain caged in an environment where you are constantly exposed to predatory tactics and dirty innuendos?

Because females tend to leave their workplace, Blackstone said that this then leads to their inability to trade up. Experience and longevity in a company is one of the key aspects employers look for in the people they hire. The woman then, who has left her company earlier than expected, tend to land in less lucrative fields or positions. To add salt to the wound, many instances of sexual harassment remain under-reported because of fear of judgement, of getting kicked out, or getting called out as a liar.

Samantha Ainsley, who is pursuing in a Ph.D. in computer science in MIT, is one of the women whose career have been sidetracked because of a professor who would make sexual advances towards her. Unable to finish her paper, she left her program at MIT to work as a software engineer at Google, a much more modest career than what a doctoral in MIT would have afforded her.

Many women remain helpless in the midst of male-dominated workplaces or in the face of a misogynist boss. And until more women find the courage to speak up and more men learn to become decent human beings, women could be stuck in this endless cycle of injustice.