Lilia Cortina (University of Melbourne)
Women face countless indignities on the job, including sexual harassment. But what do we mean by this term? What actions “count” as sexual harassment, and what might we be missing?
Several decades of social science have taken up questions such as these. According to that scholarship, sexual harassment often has little to do with sexuality, but everything to do with gender.
The most-harassed employees are those who ﬂout traditional gender norms: women who seem too aggressive, too feminist, too gay, or simply too present in a “male” work space. This conduct is not about misguided attempts to pull women into sexual relationships; quite the contrary, it aims to put them down and push them out.
Even when the mistreatment entails nothing but gendered insults — absent unwanted sexual overtures — it takes a toll on women’s work and well-being.
How can we move the needle on this problem? The most eﬀective solutions lie not in individual victims complaining, or bystanders intervening. Instead we should look to collective solutions: prevent sexual harassment by cultivating cultures of respect. This talk will conclude with a discussion of what that might mean for people and their places of work.
This lecture is presented as part of the Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship Program, which enables overseas scholars of international distinction to make an extended visit to the University and contribute to the University’s academic, intellectual and cultural life.
The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.