Sexual harassment appears to be a significant and underreported problem among both female and male flight attendants, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study, which was published August 17, 2020 in the International Journal of Aerospace Psychology, looked at data from 8,700 flight attendants from North America (U.S. and Canada) and 1,887 from the United Kingdom who took part in the Flight Attendant Health Study. The participants were asked about their experience with sexual harassment and behaviors over the previous 12 months.
The researchers found that 26% of North American attendants and 11% of U.K. flight attendants reported being sexually harassed on the job by passengers, pilots, and coworkers. They also found that 61% of U.K. flight attendants experienced unwanted sexual behaviors while working, but didn’t necessarily perceive those behaviors as sexual harassment—which implies that sexual harassment may be underreported.
The researchers recommended that airlines establish policies and training to address sexual harassment and encourage flight attendants to report unwanted sexual attention.
Co-authors were all members of the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) team. They included research scientist Dorota Weziak-Białowolska, research associate Piotr Białowolski, research associate Irina Mordukhovich, and Eileen McNeely, founder and executive director of SHINE.
Read a SHINE blog about the study: New Paper on Work, Gender, and Sexual Harassment in Commercial Air Travel