94% Of Women In Hollywood Have Experienced Sexual Misconduct

Feb 21

USA Today published a survey of 843 women working in Hollywood. These respondents aren’t just actresses but people working in various trades within the industry, including producers and directors. The survey found that 94% claim to have experienced some kind of sexual harassment or misconduct during their careers.

Nearly all of the women who responded to the survey (94%) say they have experienced some form of harassment or assault, often by an older individual in a position of power over the accuser…

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.

“It happens so frequently that it’s just the functioning normal,” says a camera operator in her early 40s. “For me, this includes everything from misogynistic or sexual comments made over a headset while working, to blatant grabbing to comments about my body. I’ve spent the last 20 years accepting it as the price of doing business in a ‘man’s job.’ “

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%)…

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 say they witnessed others advance professionally as a result of sexual relationships with employers or managers.

Looking at these numbers, I once again get the sense that Hollywood may have a unique problem. Not in the sense that this sort of behavior doesn’t happen elsewhere but it seems unusually common in this business. There’s no way 29% of women in other professions have had another employee flash them. I really hope I’m not wrong about that. And 1/5 of women being forced into sex. That’s really high right?

Yes, it is really high. Anita Raj, director of the Center for Gender Equity and Health at UCSD medical school tells USAToday, “The percentages are higher than what we typically see for workplace abuses, but we know there is variation by the type of workplace.” “But it makes sense to me that we would see higher numbers (in the entertainment industry),” she adds.

One curious finding of the survey: Women over 40 with more experience in the industry were more likely to be offered some kind of quid pro quo (28%) than younger women with less experience (11%). That may be related to the fact that younger women were more likely (35% for women under 29) to report misconduct than older women (27% for women in their 40s).

It still seems a bit counter-intuitive to me. You would think older women would have less to fear from reporting misconduct. They have a proven track record in the industry. One complaint shouldn’t represent as much of a threat to their careers as it might for younger women.

But overall, these incidents rarely get reported. Just one in four women said they reported sexual misconduct and of those 75% said nothing changed as a result. Maybe that’s why older women in the industry report less often: They’ve learned it won’t help.

The report concludes with a breakdown of who is responsible for the misconduct. In 1/3 of cases, it’s a producer, agent or director. In another 20% of cases, it was senior supervisors of some kind. Finally, in about 1/4 of cases, it was peers and co-workers. Only 3% of women surveyed reported men with less power displaying sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment seems to be widely viewed as a perk in Hollywood by a lot of men.

Next week, USAToday will be following up the release of today’s survey with some individual stories of sexual misconduct experienced by some of the respondents.


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