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University of Gothenburg

#Metoo demonstrated with great clarity that sexual harassment is happening at work, and the international research field agrees.

But the picture is more complex. We know that sexual harassment exists and that it has serious negative consequences at an individual, institutional and societal level. However, we know very little about the the exposure to different forms of harassment, who the perpetrators are and perhaps, above all, how we can best prevent sexual harassment and other gender-based violence in our workplaces.

With many years of experience of working on questions concerning conditions in research and education, we have produced a number of research reviews and reports on the theme of sexual harassment, looking at Sweden, the Nordic countries and international experience. These are all collected under Publications here on our website. The knowledge gaps and needs identified in our commissioned work and projects give rise to new ideas for articles, which are developed and formulated by the secretariat. To play our part in developing the field of knowledge in the Nordic countries, the secretariat will publish review and method articles in the years ahead.

Research study on sexual harassment in academia

The Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research is preparing a national research study as part of the Research and cooperation programme to combat sexual harassment and gender-based violence. The study will investigate the occurrence, scope and consequences of sexual harassment in academia in Sweden. The survey, which will be sent out in April/May 2021, will reach a representative sample of employees and students at universities and higher education institutions in Sweden. The study will be the first of its kind and seeks to provide data for more effective work to combat sexual harassment in academia.

The ambition of the prevalence study is to gain a better picture of why sexual harassment occurs, who the victims are, who the perpetrators are, the different forms that harassment victimisation takes, where it occurs, how long it lasts and what the consequences are for the victims, for the perpetrators, for working groups and for the work and study environment itself. The survey is designed to capture the diversity of exposure of harassment, identify links to different grounds for discrimination, distinguish between different forms of harassment, and examine exposure of harassment over time, severity, and structural conditions.

The material gathered will enable more in-depth part-studies and new research questions in the field. The study has been ethically reviewed and accredited by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority and the confidentiality of respondents is of the utmost priority.

Research review on work to prevent sexual harassment in Swedish and Nordic working life

For Kantar Sifo, the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research is producing a research overview on work to prevent sexual harassment in Swedish and Nordic working life. The research overview builds on a systematic literature search across ten databases in Sweden and the other Nordic countries plus supplementary targeted searches. The material used as the basis for the review comprises academic publications in the form of articles and reports. It also includes a certain amount of research on education and working life in North America. One of the main results highlighted by the research review is that research into work to prevent (the occurrence and the consequences of) sexual harassment in the workplace in Sweden and the Nordic countries is an almost non-existent field of research. The report will be published in spring 2020.

Increasing Nordic knowledge on sexual harassment in working life

The Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research is conducting a research-based pilot study to identify knowledge gaps on sexual harassment in working life in the Nordic countries and to produce proposals for how these can be addressed. This work is conducted within the remit of NIKK, Nordic Information on Gender, a collaborative body subordinate to the Nordic Council of Ministers.

In an initial step, a Nordic research review is being produced: Sexually harassed at work – a Nordic research overview. The secretariat is working on a proposal for a three-year cross-sectoral research initiative that builds on the research review, a summary of comparative knowledge needs and follow-up of the Nordic co-operation related to #metoo.

The proposal for a Nordic research initiative is to help to increase knowledge of sexual harassment in working life, provide research-based data for future initiatives to combat sexual harassment, improve the quality of preventive initiatives and promote a sustainable working environment free of sexual harassment.

Survey and report on sexual harassment in academia in the EU

The Secretariat was commissioned by the EU’s Standing Working Group on Gender and Research in Innovation to produce a survey of activities, measures and strategies at national level in member states. The purpose of the survey was to obtain research-based data which can be used to combat sexual harassment in academia. The survey shows that the question of sexual harassment, with a few exceptions, is an unexamined problem at national level in Europe. There are major differences between countries and in general there is a lack of cohesive efforts, and the level of knowledge and existing research is low.