After sexual harassment allegations, is there a cultural shift in the workplace?

Could we be experiencing a cultural shift in how we respond to victims of sexual harassment?

HOUSTON - Some people are saying the country is in the midst of a cultural shift amid this latest round of sexual harassment allegations.

Accusers unwilling to come forward fearing retaliation are now alleging heinous acts were perpetrated by some of the most visible and powerful men in the country.

Related: Matt Lauer fired from NBC for 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace'

University of Houston Women’s and Gender Studies director, Elizabeth Gregory, says similar allegations were not taken seriously 10 years ago.

“People just didn’t think they were in a position to be heard,” Gregory said. “What was the point in coming forward if all you were going to do is suffer more?”

Students at the University of Houston on Wednesday said they would not be afraid to confront a sexual harasser when they soon enter the workplace, regardless of the repercussions.

“Yes, whatever it costs me,” said UH student Jasmine Perry. “My safety is more than making money.”

Some say the stigma is fading.

“I think that it’s changed in the sense that people are willing to come out and admit that something’s happening,” said UH student Austin Brooks. “Yeah, they’re more willing to come forward, you didn’t hear it so much in our parents' generation because there was a stigma.”

Gregory says things have changed now that more women are possessing managerial positions in companies, however, there is a long way to go before they catch up to the men. She says women only hold 5 percent of corporate CEO positions in the United States.

“People in positions of power misuse it if they can,” Gregory said.

The generation of students next to enter the workforce say they would speak up quickly if ever harassed, if not for themselves, for someone else.

“I’d come forward,” said UH student Elizabeth Roher. “Because if it’s something that could happen to me, why wouldn’t I want to help not let it happen to someone else? I feel like that’s the right thing to do, to help someone else.”

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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