Sexual harassment prevention seminar (University of Helsinki)

Home/Sexual harassment prevention seminar (University of Helsinki)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Issues and Targets
The action was developed to reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment in the academic community, but at the same time avoid for example increased social separation of the genders in an attempt to avoid behavior that can interpreted as sexual harassment.

Description of Offer/ Action
We have organized 1.5-2 hours seminars in different contexts (for example different departments, centers of excellence) to discuss the practical operational definition of what is considered sexual harassment by the community and the individuals in it.

Implementation Approach
The seminar has started by a presentation of results of a survey on sexual harassment in academia and proceeded with group work involving a collaborative internet platform for collecting results. The groups discussed under which conditions for example the comment ‘you look good’ can be considered sexual harassment and under which conditions it cannot.

Formal Requirements
5 hours of preparation time (assuming that some relevant data on sexual harassment exist, some data is good for starting and motivating the discussion) and the organization of an approx. 2-hour seminar.

Results and Modes of Action
The seminars have fostered discussions of borders of sexual harassment in the community, and created an understanding that it is important to create a culture where people have a low threshold of expressing if they feel uncomfortable with the conduct of others. And that these expressions have to be respected, as the borders of harassing behavior vary from one individual to another, and it is impossible to draw crystal clear safe but sensible lines.

Success Criteria and Possible Obstacles
Seminar organizers should include (senior) males rather than only females to avoid the impression that the sexual harassment prevention is a ‚women against men‘- issue rather than a general work well being issue. Also the leadership of the unit should actively show their support for the cause, and often the leaders are male. The event should be organized in the context of an annual recreation day, center of excellence seminar or another soothing context like that to maximize diverse participation.

This Offer is Part of the Category
Gender-sensitive organization culture