Be­hind method­ol­ogy, a blue­print for change

How USA TO­DAY’s team crunched the num­bers

USA TODAY US Edition - - LIFE - Cara Kelly and An­drea Man­dell

Sex­ual ha­rass­ment is ram­pant in Hol­ly­wood — a sys­temic prob­lem that goes beyond the celebrity power play­ers felled by ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct in re­cent months.

In re­sponse, USA TO­DAY spon­sored an in­dus­try­wide sur­vey to quan­tify how per­va­sive the prob­lem is in en­ter­tain­ment. The re­sults are stag­ger­ing: 94% of women sur­veyed say they have ex­pe­ri­enced some form of sex­ual ha­rass­ment or as­sault over the course of their ca­reers.

The sur­vey set out to quan­tify the prob­lem that has been de­scribed in har­row­ing anec­dotes from A-lis­ters such as Uma Thur­man and Gwyneth Pal­trow and pro­vide a safe fo­rum for women who don’t have a pub­lic plat­form or who do not feel em­pow­ered to share their sto­ries. The re­sults will be used to tell where and how change needs to come.

The Creative Coali­tion, a pre­miere arts ad­vo­cacy non-profit, and Women in Film and Tele­vi­sion, which ad­vo­cates for and ad­vances the ca­reers of women work­ing in the screen in­dus­tries, be­came of­fi­cial part­ners in the project. The or­ga­ni­za­tions dis­trib­uted the sur­vey to their mem­bers, who hold a wide range of roles.

Sur­veys of self-se­lected re­spon­dents should be treated with more cau­tion than sur­veys in which the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion is sci­en­tif­i­cally se­lected and thus more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pop­u­la­tion be­ing sur­veyed. But ex­perts in work­place sex­ual ha­rass­ment say the re­sults of the USA TO­DAY sur­vey are cred­i­ble.

“It’s be­liev­able that even if you had a sci­en­tif­i­cally rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple, 94% would have ex­pe­ri­enced (some form of ha­rass­ment or abuse),” says Anita Raj, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Gen­der Eq­uity and Health at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego’s med­i­cal

school, which stud­ies the emo­tional, men­tal and phys­i­cal con­se­quences of sex­ual ha­rass­ment on women and their work­place pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Raj says the USA TO­DAY sur­vey shows that a sub­stan­tially higher num­ber of self-se­lected re­spon­dents ex­pe­ri­enced ha­rass­ment or abuse in Hol­ly­wood than women in other kinds of in­dus­tries and work­places. She says that could be at­trib­uted in part to the par­tic­u­lars of en­ter­tain­ment work­places, where the “cast­ing couch” is a long­stand­ing fact of life and where it’s “nor­mal” that “part of one’s job could in­clude kiss­ing some­one with whom you are not hav­ing a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship.”

USA TO­DAY also part­nered with the Na­tional Sex­ual Vi­o­lence Re­source Cen­ter, which con­sulted on the con­struc­tion of sur­vey ques­tions so the sur­vey would not re­trau­ma­tize vic­tims but get ac­cu­rate re­sponses.

In writ­ing the sur­vey, one cru­cial sug­ges­tion from the cen­ter was to be cog­nizant of ter­mi­nol­ogy. “Ter­mi­nol­ogy tends to be a bar­rier for self-dis­clo­sure, since these ex­pe­ri­ences are so of­ten min­i­mized,” com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Laura Palumbo says.

Mean­ing: If sex­ual ha­rass­ment is not de­fined in a sur­vey, re­spon­dents are sig­nif­i­cantly less likely to re­port that they have ex­pe­ri­enced it.

USA TO­DAY be­gan with the U.S. Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion’s def­i­ni­tion of sex­ual ha­rass­ment: un­wel­come sex­ual ad­vances, re­quests for sex­ual fa­vors, and other ver­bal or phys­i­cal con­duct of a sex­ual na­ture. We also ref­er­enced the United Na­tions’ break­down of ex­am­ples, as well as sim­i­lar sur­veys by fed­eral agen­cies and univer­si­ties. In our query, we listed nine types of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, with the op­tion to se­lect whether re­spon­dents have never ex­pe­ri­enced it, ex­pe­ri­enced it once or ex­pe­ri­enced it more than once. Those in­cluded:

Hav­ing some­one make un­wel­come sex­ual com­ments, jokes or ges­tures about you.

Be­ing shown sexy or sex­ual pic­tures without your con­sent.

Wit­ness­ing oth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence un­wanted sex­ual com­ments, ad­vances, phys­i­cal con­tact or other form of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Be­ing touched (slap, pinch, brush) in an un­wel­come sex­ual way.

Wit­ness­ing oth­ers ad­vance pro­fes­sion­ally as a re­sult of per­sonal, sex­ual re­la­tion­ships with em­ploy­ers/man­agers.

Be­ing propo­si­tioned for a sex­ual act or re­la­tion­ship in an un­wel­come way.

Hav­ing some­one flash or ex­pose him­self to you.

Be­ing forced to do some­thing sex­ual.

Be­ing forced to ap­pear naked un­ex­pect­edly for au­di­tions or oth­er­wise in the course of pro­fes­sional work.

The en­crypted sur­vey was anony- mous, and 861 in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als com­pleted the sur­vey, in­clud­ing 843 women. Re­sults were tal­lied based on fe­male re­sponses; re­spon­dents who iden­ti­fied as male and trans­gen­der did not rep­re­sent a sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant sam­ple. The sur­vey was ac­tive from Dec. 4, 2017, through Jan. 14.

The age break­down of re­spon­dents was fairly even, span­ning 18 to over 60:

18- to 29-year-olds ac­counted for 16% of re­spon­dents; 30- to 39-year-olds, the largest group, ac­counted for 29%;

40-49 for 21%; 50-59 for 19%; and

60-plus for 16%. Pro­fes­sion­als polled in­cluded direc­tors, pro­duc­ers, ex­ec­u­tive (and as­so­ciate) pro­duc­ers, ac­tors, writ­ers and edi­tors. Of that group, 87% said some­one had made un­wel­come com­ments, jokes or ges­tures about them at work, 69% were touched in an un­wel­come sex­ual way, and 64% were propo­si­tioned for an un­wel­come sex­ual act or re­la­tion­ship.

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