Washington, DC — Inspired by the #MeToo movement, Ipsos, in partnership with National Public Radio (NPR), investigated how Americans have been impacted by the recent outpouring of sexual harassment claims and to what extent they've personally dealt with, or encountered, harassment. Across a broad spectrum, Americans proved to be somewhat resigned to commonplace sexual harassment, yet strongly believe in the need for societal change. Nearly half of Americans (44%) think it is inevitable that men will 'hit on' women at work, and a clear majority (86%) also believe that a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment is essential to bringing about change in our society.
One poignant example of the tension facing Americans on the topic of sexual harassment is the level of doubt assigned to both the victim and the accused. Eight in ten (79%) Americans believe those who report being victims of sexual harassment should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, yet nearly the same number (77%) believe people accused of sexual harassment should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise as well. Women are more sympathetic to the victim (84% agree to giving them the benefit of the doubt) than the accused (73% agree), while men are more sympathetic to the accused (74% agree to giving the victim the benefit of the doubt vs. 81% agree to giving it to the accused). This dichotomy is also felt along party lines, with Democrats slightly more supportive of the victim (85% agree to giving them the benefit of the doubt vs. 75% agree to giving the accused the benefit of the doubt) than Republicans are (78% agree to giving the victim the benefit of the doubt vs. 80% for the accused).
Generally, Americans believe there has been a shift over time in how sexual harassment is perceived and dealt with in the workplace. Three quarters of Americans (74%) say that five years ago, a woman who reported being sexually harassed was risking her career, but only 44% agree that is the case now. Similarly, two-thirds of Americans agree reports of sexual harassment were generally ignored five years ago, as opposed to 26% who say they are generally ignored now.
About the Study
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted October 10-11, 2017 on behalf of NPR. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 340 Democrats, 370 Republicans, and 186 Independents.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5).
The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 8.2 percentage points for Independents.
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