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USA TODAY Study Finds that 94% of Women Surveyed Have Experienced Sexual Harassment or Assault

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) was proud to partner with USA TODAY on a study of sexual misconduct in the film and television industry. With guidance from NYWIFT, the Creative Coalition, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the publication created a detailed survey to assess women's experiences across a variety of entertainment careers, providing long-needed hard data to illustrate how pervasive this problem has been and continues to be. NYWIFT distributed the survey to Women In Film chapters throughout the United States, and USA TODAY published the results online and in print on February 21, 2018. We thank all those who participated for sharing their stories. An overview is below. 

A USA TODAY survey of 843 women in the entertainment industry found 94% say they've experienced harassment or assault. Almost every one of hundreds of women questioned in an exclusive survey by USA TODAY said they have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault during their careers in Hollywood, often by an older individual in a position of power over the accuser. 

Working in partnership with the Creative Coalition, Women in Film and Television and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, USA TODAY surveyed 843 women who work in the entertainment industry in a variety of roles (producers, actors, writers, directors, editors and others) and asked them about their experiences with sexual misconduct.

In addition to the 94%, the study found that more than one-fifth of respondents (21%) said they have been forced to do something sexual at least once.

What kind of misconduct is happening?

Most often, it's someone making unwelcome sexual comments, jokes or gestures: 87% of respondents say this has happened to them at least once. Also, 69% say they've been groped (slapped, pinched or brushed in a sexual way) at least once, and 64% say they have been propositioned for sex or a relationship at least once. Far fewer respondents say they've been shown sexual pictures without consent (39%) or have been on the receiving end of someone exposing themselves (29%).

Where does misconduct happen?

More than one-third (35%) of respondents say they have been asked to hold work activities or meetings in inappropriate environments such as hotel rooms or bedrooms. Recall that many of Weinstein's accusers asserted that sexual misconduct took place after he lured them to hotel rooms on the pretext of a business meeting.

How many women are expected to trade sex for advancement?

One-fifth (20%) of respondents say they have been put in a quid pro quo position: provide sexual acts with the implicit or explicit promise of promotions or other forms of career advancement. Also, 65% of respondents said they witnessed others advance professionally as a result of sexual relationships with employers or managers.

Are women more likely to encounter harassment with age and experience?

More women older than 40 say they were asked to hold meetings in hotel rooms (41% of age 40 to 49) than women younger than 30 (31%). Similarly, those with more than 20 years experience were more likely to say they were put in a sex-for-advancement position (28%) than women with less than five years in the industry (11%).

How do age and experience influence whether misconduct is reported?

Why don't women report misconduct?

Most sexual misconduct goes unreported largely out of fear. But 40% of respondents said they did not trust the system. More than one-third — 34% — weren't even sure what happened to them amounted to sexual harassment, and 32% said they had no evidence so it was their word against the accused. And 20% said they felt shame.

What happened after misconduct was reported?

Of those few who reported misconduct, the result was most often a warning or reprimand (32%) or removal of the harasser (23%). A fraction (8%) of respondents said they were fired after reporting and 4% said there was a settlement in their case. And zero cases were prosecuted. Also, a quarter of the respondents (24%) said they left their companies specifically because of sexual misconduct incidents.

Who are the assailants?

They're male, older and for the most part more powerful than their accusers. About one-third (29%) were directors, agents, producers or someone else in an authority position as the industry defines it. About one-quarter (24%) were peers or co-workers, and one-fifth (20%) were supervisors or senior managers. Less than 10% were influential individuals in the industry, such as celebrities, and few were in a lower position than the accuser (3%). Respondents said about three-quarters of their harassers were either older or much older than themselves (74% combined), and only 5% were younger.

How can Hollywood eliminate sexual harassment in its workplaces?

Accountability from the top down was the solution most often offered by respondents: 75% said employers should be held accountable for their internal cultures of harassment, and 72% said supervisors, managers and human resources personnel should be held accountable, too. Other solutions also drew strong agreement: 63% want employers to make it easier to report harassment, 54% want more training on workplace policies, and 51% say employers need to implement stricter policies on sexual misconduct.

But maybe the best solution is the simplest solution:
More women in power positions in Hollywood.

This article was excerpted from the larger article on USA TODAY. Read the full article here

Keep up with future installments of this report. 

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts