Gender-based violence is common, not only in homes but also in workplaces. In Canada, half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, and more than two-thirds of Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse. Recently, domestic violence reports have increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Preventing gender-based violence requires attentively mitigating harmful gender norms, such as through public education and workplace programming.
Below, we’ve curated a collection of our best research and insights on this subject.
Gender-based violence is violence that occurs based on someone’s gender identity or gender expression. It involves a wide spectrum of behaviours and is not limited to physical acts or intimate partner violence. Sexual assault and sexual harassment, which are becoming more commonly discussed in workplace contexts as a result of the #MeToo movement, are both forms of gender-based violence. Gender-based violence also includes psychological violence, financial abuse, and online harassment and abuse.
Nobody should have to endure violence, which has significant and long-term damaging effects on a person’s well-being across their lifetime and for the generations that come after them. Unfortunately, gender-based violence often goes unreported as a result of stigma, fear of backlash, and expectations of inaction. Further, gender-based violence disproportionately affects women of colour, Indigenous women, LGBT+ persons, and women working in vulnerable jobs like domestic work – groups that are already socially, economically, and politically marginalized.
While the #MeToo movement has improved awareness of gender-based violence, with more awareness has also come backlash and some unwillingness to take steps to change the culture that facilitates it. For example, some men in positions of power are now less willing to mentor junior women as a result of fear of being accused of misconduct.
In 2016, 4% of Canadian women reported being sexually harassed in the workplace, compared with less than 1% of men. Due to underreporting, however, these numbers may be higher. Certain groups of women are more vulnerable than others: Aboriginal women were more likely to report sexual harassment at work than non-Aboriginal women (10% versus 4%), and lesbian or bisexual women were more likely to report having experienced sexual harassment than heterosexual women (11% versus 4%).
Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Aboriginal women, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, are six times more likely to be killed by their partners than non-Aboriginal women. Transgender people are almost twice as likely to report experiencing intimate partner violence than cisgender women and men.
Because sexual harassment and violence are underreported—often due to fear of professional retaliation—it is difficult to combat. Groups that are already marginalized along lines of race and citizenship are less likely to report harassment and violence. As a result, harassment and violence can become a normalized part of everyday life.
Robyn Doolittle on sexual harassment and organizational culture
In this video, Robyn Doolittle, journalist and author of Had It Coming: What’s Fair in the Age of #MeToo?, discusses how organizational culture can facilitate sexual harassment, and how to move forward to make change.
This experimental study demonstrates that women are penalized in terms of advancement opportunities when they self-report sexual harassment, due to the perception that these women are violating social norms.