Now is the time for students to demand respect for women in the workplace

Sexual harassment can damage students' careers and well-being

2018 is full of important conversations highlighting the injustice of sexual assault and abuse in our country. Although harassment, assault and discrimination have been present in the workplace for years, now is the time for these issues to be properly addressed.

Here at ASU, students go to college to earn a degree and prepare for professional careers. Unfortunately, ASU students could be affected by these issues within their wider careers, whether that be harassment, assault or any sort of inappropriate behavior from colleagues. 

Yasmin Saikia, a professor of history at ASU who has written about women's issues, acknowledged that every person has their own story and individual experiences but said it is important that issues of sexual assault and discrimination are addressed at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. 

“The dialogue surrounding sexual assault in the workplace has to be regulated in a way for people to get to the core of the issue,” Saikia said. “We should not target single individuals, of course. Each person's experience is unique.” 

Women and men can both be discriminated against in the workplace, but women are typically more likely to experience sexual violence than men.

Sexual discrimination and harassment are never easy topics to discuss, but college students have the obligation to create open discourse acknowledging the issue while standing with victims and encouraging investigations into the alleged assaults.

“As a larger university, it is our task to create awareness and look for solutions for the problems,"  Saikia said. "We need policies that allow women students and faculty members to talk about these issues without being further marginalized.” 

Human resources departments should be actively looking to help men and women who have been subjected to sexual harassment or discrimination. It is also important that victims are encouraged to seek refuge, acknowledging that although it may be difficult, reporting the behavior is the best option. 

Beyond sexual assault, there's the wage gap. All women are strongly affected by the wage gap, and according to a Pew Research study, women earned 17 cents on the dollar less than their male counterparts.  It's time to bring light to this important issue by stressing the importance of fair pay for equal work.

ASU students should be aware of the pay gap and should be advocating for equal pay in their college careers so they will not suffer in their professional lives.

Whether focusing on sexual assault or the wage gap, these issues are symptoms of a greater underlying lack of respect for women.

It's the responsibility of all students, at ASU and beyond, to advocate for women and acknowledge that there are various factors that contribute to the injustices that women face on a daily basis. Upon graduation, ASU women will be entering the workforce, and when they get there, they should feel safe and be treated equally.


Reach the columnist at nlplunke@asu.edu or follow @ninalplunkett on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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