The paper "Sexual Harassment as a Gender Issue in the Workplace" is a good example of management coursework. Despite numerous efforts by national and international organizations to eliminate or at least reduce acts of sexual harassment at the workplace, it is very difficult to come up with a conventionally-agreed upon definition of this behavior. In general, international organizations view sexual harassment as discrimination and violence against women while national laws tend to focus on the illegal nature of the behavior. Nevertheless, all definitions tend to agree that acts of sexual harassment are unwanted and unwelcome, and cause suffering and harm to the victim (Antecola, Barcus & Cobb-Clark, 2009). At the international level, the International Labor Organization has defined the behavior as one form of sex discrimination.
According to the ILO, acts of sexual harassment and related behaviors constitute an important problem of workplace health and safety besides creating unacceptable working conditions for both the perpetrator and the victim. On its part, the UN Convention of on Elimination of Discrimination against Women has defined sexual harassment as “ The unwelcome sexually determined behavior such as physical contact and advances, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions… ” At the national and regional levels, the US became the first county to prohibit sexual harassment at the workplace.
Under US laws, sexual harassment is “ The unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conducts of a sexual nature” (American Association of University Women, 2001). Besides the national definition of sexual harassment, most states in the US have prohibited sexual harassment in state laws, some of which may be slightly different from the federal definition.
Under the Australian jurisdiction, sexual harassment is defined as any comment, conduct or gesture of sexual nature that can potentially cause humiliation or offence to employees (Australia Human Rights Commission, 2012). Although there is no universal agreement on the definition of sexual harassment, there is some agreement on the characteristics that constitute the prohibited behaviour. In order for any action to be sexual harassment, it should be related to sex; be unwelcome by the victim and should affect the terms of employment or the work environment. Generally, sexual harassment is one form of sex discrimination but it is not easy to tell whether it is a gender, equality or power issue in the workplace (Rowe, 1990).
The basis for this difficulty is that many of the acts of sexual content directed towards individuals may fall within the definition of differential treatments and behaviors based on sex (Antecola, Barcus & Cobb-Clark, 2009). Nevertheless, not all forms of gender-based discrimination can be classified as sexual harassment, yet in some cases, it becomes difficult to make proper separations between what is considered to be sexual harassment and not. According to Antecola, Barcus and Cobb-Clark, (2009), acts of sexual harassment constitutes an important gender issue in the workplace although this does not necessarily relate to the biological differences between men and women but rather to the social responsibilities and roles attributed to men and women.
Antecola, Barcus and Cobb-Clark (2009) have further noted that sexual harassment in any setting is closely related to the social perceptions about male and female sexuality.