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The nature, pervasiveness and manifestations of sexual harassment in rural Australia: Does 'masculinity' of workplace make a difference?

  • Year: 2013
  • Author: Saunders, Skye; Easteal, Patricia, AM
  • Journal Name: Women's Studies International Forum
  • Journal Number: 40
  • Publisher: Pergamon Press Inc.
  • Published Location: United States
  • ISBN: 02775395
  • Country: Australia

Research has shown that hostile environments can be a particular problem for women working in traditional male jobs such as policing and defence forces or where they are employed on remote work sites with residential arrangements. These 'masculinity' marked workplaces have a high incidence of sexual harassment. Australia's rural region has an ethos of male dominance. The increased exodus of young women from rural communities could intensify the 'masculine' culture that saturates rural areas.

Given these factors, plus an expected prevalence of occupations with token female representation, we expected to find pervasive sexual harassment as evidenced by both group or pack sexual harassment and the normalisation of a variety of sexual harassment manifestations. To test this hypothesis and to find out more about the nature of sexual harassment in remote Australia, a sample of women employees and employers from 101 workplaces in different parts of remote and regional Australia were interviewed. We found that many of the respondents experienced or observed both 'one-on-one' harassment and 'pack-on-one' harassment.

These behaviours were more common in the traditionally defined masculine occupations like agriculture/horticulture and mining. We did not find a positive correlation between remoteness and sexual harassment with respondents from the most remote areas tending to be from professional occupations.

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