Women and Gender Studies Program

WGS Council Member, Susan Fineran's work on Teen Sexual Harassment at Work Highlighted

Susan Fineran

An article on oregonlive.com, the online version of The Oregonian newspaper, focuses on teen sexual harassment at work and says young workers are less likely to find help but suffer the deepest scars.

NASW member Susan Fineran, a University of Southern Maine professor, is one of the few academics studying the issue, the article says. Fineran has done three studies about teen workers and sexual harassment. She says teens can become normalized to certain behaviors at school, so they may not speak up when they experience similar situations at work.

“Students hear from classmates, ‘Hey baby, you’re really looking hot,’ and other bad language that denigrates women,” she said. “Teens get normalized to these behaviors so in the workplace they don’t have the expectation of being treated better.”

In one of her studies, Fineran found that nearly one-third of the 518 teens polled in 2008 and 2009 said they experienced some type of sexual harassment at work. Fineran says in the article that she believes young people who get harassed on the job are more likely to suffer long-term effects. 

Many students in the study said their grades suffered as a result of what they experienced at work, and they were less likely to find another one or consider a career. Fineran says even if young people notice red flags during the interview process, many need the money, so they accept the employment offer anyway.

Source: https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/news/2014/06/social-work-public-eye.asp