Sexual harassment - a hurdle to female promotion

Thuy Binh Thi Tran


The existence of sexual harassment in the workplace is one of main hurdles to hinder women’s advancement to the top positions of media companies in Vietnam. Female journalists are commonly believed that they are aggressive enough not to be sexually abused by men. Yet some of middle-aged female executives of Voice of Vietnam, one of the two largest state-owned broadcasting organizations disclosed being harassed, based on 12 in-depth interviews in 2015 and 2016. Their working environment is tolerant with sexual harassment when sensitive jokes related to female body parts and sex are perceived as normal and funny, and unwanted touching is acceptable. Victims thus normally keep silence and harassers are not punished. This long-decade tolerance is reinforced by four interconnected contexts, namely individual, cultural, social and institutional circumstances. This fact poses a major impediment for women to be promoted when they feel stuck in the dilemma. If they publicly blame abusers at offi ce, they can be perceived as an unfriendly colleague, which may lose potential votes for their promotion.
In the contrary, they can be labeled to get advancement because of accepting unexpected abusiveness.

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