More than 63% of these women have been sexually harassed

As a woman working in media, I wanted to know just how big an issue sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment were in my industry. I have had my own experiences, but was curious just how many others had, too. So I asked 38 women to fill out this survey, thus providing a snapshot of the reality of being a woman working in media today.

More than 73% of women have been exposed to sexist or misogynistic behavior from men in the industry.

Of them, 71% did not report it.

For those that did report it, almost 94% say that action wasn’t taken when reported.

When asked why most chose not to report the incident, they gave the following answers:

You get used to it, since it’s a boy’s club. Unless it’s actual assault or really disgusting, you don’t really think to report it.

Making yourself a squeeky wheel when you want to get ahead only makes you less desireable as a hire.

I didn’t feel threatened, just a little grossed out.

Im a freelancer, no one to report it to really

1. At the time, I didn’t recognize it for what it was. 2. We don’t really have an HR department.

I was just starting out, and it was coming from my two male bosses, so I didn’t feel comfortable making a thing out of it. Plus everyone agreed it was “harmless” so I tried to just brush it off.

No one would care.

I did not feel that I could prove legally that it was discrimination.

Because the person was my boss.

When I didn’t report, it was due to lack of faith in system, confidentiality, or consequences.

I knew my boss wouldn’t care.

did’t seem like enough of an issue to make a big deal about, more a general feeling of being uncomfortable around that person

It didn’t impact how I could function in my day-to-day job. It was just rude.

A number of sexist behaviors such as only calling on males in meetings and giving men credit for the same ideas previously offered by women. Mainly didn’t report because I didn’t want to create waves or some to be known as a complainer.

Things have always been borderline…. well meaning, slightly off color, just a little too condescending…and I just felt like it wasn’t worth it

It obviously would not be taken seriously

Honestly wasn’t sure if it would be believed or worthwhile, or if it was as offensive as I felt it was

Ive had a number of instances over the years. I report some and not others. I’m more inclined to complain when it feels bigger (a comment said in an all staff meeting) vs to me directly.

My publication is a side job and is not terribly well structured.

He was a well-liked comedian and I know it would have only created issues with me. I know times when I have come forward I am seen as “complicated” or “complaining”

Trying to play it cool / be one of the guys/ not be sensitive female

70% of those who have been on the receiving end of sexist or misogynist behavior report having male bosses.

63% of women working in media have been the victim of sexual harassment while working in the industry.

More than 80% of the men that harassed them were more powerful or influential in the industry than them.

60% of those harassed did not report it.

And of them, almost 70% were not satisfied with how it was resolved.

When asked why some chose not to report being sexual harasssed, they replied:

Same answer as above. Unless it’s really gross, you get used to it.

person was my editor and ended up letting me go/stopped using me for the site

He’s well known in nerd journalism and at first I thought I invited the harassment.

No one to report it to

Because sexual harassment is often subtle and happens where there’s no one else to corroborate your story.

No one to report it to; we were both independent bloggers. I shared with a few friends.

famous person

I did not work directly with this person

No clear reporting system, lack of confidence in meaningful consequences

It was a small office, and the offender WAS my boss — there was no other person to report to.

Too new, laughed it off

Wouldn’t be taken seriously.

He was another well-liked person in my industry and I knew he would not be reprimanded as people have made excuses for his actions in the past.

More than 80% say in the situation above, their direct report or boss was male.

Almost 82% of women in media report witnessing sexism, misogyny or sexual harassment of another women colleague.

63% reported it, showing women are almost twice as likely to speak out when it is not on their own behalf.

However, 70% were not satisfied with the way it was resolved.

When asked why some chose not to report it, they answered:

If it’s someone else, I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to step in unless it was truly egregious or dangerous

I had already reported other situations and they had been dismissed/I was asked not to bring them up. Eventually I had to quit.

Not my business..

It was coming from my boss.

I didn’t feel it was my place

It was done BY my boss.

I’m more comfortable helping the victim in the situation by either calling out the person or getting the victim away from said perpetrator, then if the victim wants to make a complaint, supporting them in any way

It really depends. If a piece of writing has sexist bias I occasionally point it out on top of fixing it. But in more interpersonal communications I’m more likely not to call it out. Part of it feels like I don’t want to feel like others are branding me as overly sensitive to these kinds of issues.

I don’t know

I was hesitant to speak out and draw attention to the incident and to myself. I wish I had made a different choice.

Almost half (47%) of the women answering the survey are freelancers in the media industry.

74% say they believe their direct report/boss/employer would be supportive if they reported sexism, misogyny, or sexual harassment.

Most report that their bosses or direct reports are male.

Almost 82% believe there is not being enough done within the industry to address or prevent sexism, misogyny, or sexual harassment.

Nearly 95% of respondents have been warned about a male in the industry.

When asked, this is what respondents felt can be done to better address, protect, and prevent sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment in the industry:

How about actually listening when someone says there is a problem instead of telling us to quit being so uptight?

Talking about it more, certainly, and making sure women support each other/feel safe when they report harassment/assault/misogyny/etc.

just keep chipping away at it.

Top down works in this case. More editors who work for diversity/inclusivity & foster a culture that appreciates that can make a difference.

Put more women in authority positions, educate everyone on what constitutes harassment because I don’t think many guys know what they’re doing is wrong and they really need to know.

More women in leadership roles.

First, there need to be more women in leadership roles. Second, “looking the other way” doesn’t help. Last, have a zero tolerance policy all the way up to the studio level. Stop rewarding men who behave badly. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Stop promoting men when complaints are logged against them. Stop letting men in power prey on people who are not as high ranking. Believe people when they file complaints against powerful men.

I feel like barriers need to be knocked down and friends need to stop protecting those they know misbehave with comments like “but he’s nice to me!” I also believe companies policing work events like convention parties, etc, would help. Also, companies punishing employees when they’re complained about and cutting off freelancers.

Editors and publications as a whole should probably have a system to report these issues, even if your freelancing for them. It would be great too if the NASW had some sort of resource for this, a place to report and go about talking to people.

Take it seriously instead of brushing it off.

Men (or women…but let’s be real, mostly men) in positions of power need to use that position to champion and protect those who are in a more vulnerable position professionally. So many women don’t speak up for fear of being blacklisted or labeled as “hard to work with” in the industry.

I really think communication and open dialogue about what is considered sexual harassment and misogyny. I do think that people want to better and they just need the right guidance to help them with that.

For one thing, I believe that women should be promoted equally to men — most of my direct reports are female, but all of their bosses (EICs and the like) are men. Also, sexual harassment of any kind should be a fire-able offense. When I reported that someone was behaving inappropriately toward younger women at a conference, the response was “Are you sure he wasn’t just being socially awkward? Did you ask him to stop? There’s not really anything that we can do about that.” It should have been “We will have a discussion with him and if it continues we will remove him from the event.” Sexism needs to be taken more seriously, and that starts with having more non-cis-male people in positions of power.

Implicit bias training on first day of employment, with written reflections by participants to demonstrate comprehension

Have more ongoing and open discussions about it (which we do, some! but we could do more). also, as a general note about my answers above, I have only had one staff position and not for very long, and my boss clearly preferred to work with men. But since then, I have largely worked with female editors and have only attended one industry event, so I’m probably not a representative example!

Hire more women in management roles

More women in senior leadership

Teach our boys what is right and wrong. It is not the job of females to field the advances of men. The men should know better.

Visibility, particularly to men who don’t seem to understand the problem exists until it impacts someone they admire

A way to blacklist those from the industry who are known offenders.

I’m not sure

general awareness as to what constitutes sexism, misogyny, and harassment. Also, an idea of the consequences for the perpetrator if reported. Would they know it was you who reported? Would they be punished? Would you still have to deal with them for the sake of continuing your career? If I’m not sure what will happen to the person reported, I’m less likely to want to “rock the boat” by reporting something I see as “minor”

For peers to support and report when something happens immediately. Take a stand in the moment. Identify in the momemt when a subordinate is doing something wrong and reprimand or make the person accountable.

It’s a good question. I don’t think any behaviors are unique to the media. But I will say that media professionals are often lauded and rewarded for being brash/extroverted, which disproportionally affects women because of the double standard about appearing too pushy if you play that game as a female. I think it would be illustrative to physically show men (and women) examples of inappropriate behavior because I would gather most don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong.

I wish I knew. I think we need policies that protect people so we don’t have to go screaming from the rooftops, which causes backlash

People in power can respond to claims fairly, and stop making efforts to excuse and protect their friends.

No more “open secrets” about known abusers and harassers. They need to be called out from the get-go. There should be more assurances of protection for accusers who fear retaliation for speaking out and swifter consequences for abusers who have been ignored or turned a blind eye to for way too long.

The issue has to be taken more seriously. No idea how to make that happen. But there has to be a culture where abusers are aware that their behavior is wrong, and victims need to know that people will listen and not belittle them. It’s a huge ask, but so important.

Make policies and procedures clearer, have effective reporting systems, listen to women who report

More awareness and training for professionals. Cosplay is not consent signs have done a lot for harassment of cosplayers. Sites and media could make their freelancers read/sign anti-discrimination and harassment guidelines for their employees. Big companies do this but it would be good for smaller sites and companies to implement with their freelance workers as well.

Examples made, teaching younger workforce members how to recognize and voice issues, creating a less male-powered corporate workforce (especially in terms of wealthy, white men)

It’s such a complicated issue and it stems from the culture. We all experience and accept these micro expressions of sexism. Ultimately we need to continue to speak up and find allies in leadership to speak out.

I feel if I were more directly involved in the industry and attended more events, my answer would be different.

Moderating comments/message boards. Having ZERO tolerance for harassment whether in comments or the workplace. Employing more diverse women so nerd-based viewers see us as regulars and not exceptions. Employing more women so our industry can be less of a “boys club.” Believing women who come forward — having companies get behind their female employees and call out men who may be hurting women in our industry.

Women and men of power and stature calling out the behavior and being whistleblowers. Thanks for the survey.

More opportunities for women. Most of the writers I work with are men, so it would be nice for women to get a shot.

We need the publishers to actuall have an HR policy to protect staff. There needs to be anti oppression training for staff. And we need our own independent organization to hold folks accountable.