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Power does not protect a woman from sexual harassment

It is no surprise that women often must work twice as hard as their male counterparts to climb the corporate ladder. Not only must they perform their professional duties better, but often, women also must ignore subtle signs of sexual harassment to avoid drawing unwanted attention to themselves. Once they achieve that power and reach a position of authority, you would think the sexual harassment stops completely. On the contrary, their power makes them more vulnerable to it.

Understanding the power dynamics at play

Power dynamics is when power influences the relationship between individuals in any given scenario. An employer or supervisor has power over their employees. However, when a woman has more power, for some reason, colleagues, clients and even male subordinates perceive her as a threat instead of a respected authority.

You see, historically, sexual harassment is “more about power than about sex.” The aim of harassing another individual is to intimidate and humiliate them.

Sexual harassment is how a person exercises their dominance over another individual. A woman in power can cause a male co-worker, employee or client to feel emasculated. They worry that a woman can do their job better than they can and it will interfere with the gender hierarchy established by society. By targeting her, the perpetrator feels they have control over her, and thus, they wield more power than her.

Restoring the balance of power

Female employees and supervisors should not have to tolerate abusive working environments and they should not let anyone undermine their abilities based on their sex. Their employers have a legal obligation to make them feel safe and heard. Federal laws and the Missouri Human Rights Act protect every person, regardless of their position in a company, from sexual harassment. A woman in power has the power to file a complaint against her perpetrator or pursue legal action and make sure they never do it again.