According to a survey by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of consultations related to sexual harassment has been increasing in recent years. When we look at the graph, we can see that this increase occurred during the following periods:
From 2005 to 2006
From 2013 onwards
These periods coincide with the second and third basic plans for promoting gender equality, which were implemented in 2005 and 2011, respectively. This suggests that as more women enter the workforce, incidents of sexual harassment increase, which is also supported by the overwhelming number of female victims in the graph.
So why does sexual harassment increase when men and women work together?
In fact, there are evolutionary reasons for this phenomenon in men and women. Evolutionary psychology suggests that there are specific mating strategies in men and women. The book "The Evolutionary Psychology of Homo sapiens" provides the following example:
At a company that emphasizes gender equality, both male and female employees are required to treat male and female customers with equal friendliness. This approach worked well for about three-quarters of the interactions, meaning interactions between male employees and male or female customers, as well as between female employees and female customers. However, interactions between female employees and male customers backfired. When female employees looked into the eyes of male customers, smiled, and said their names while thanking them, some male customers mistakenly thought that the female employee was interested in them and began to pursue them at work and even outside of work.
In workplaces where men and women interact, natural and sexual selection work to minimize the consequences of misjudgment. If the consequences are minimal, then they have less impact on survival and reproduction.
Two types of biases can occur when judging whether sexual harassment has occurred:
The belief that the other person is interested when they are not (positive bias)
The belief that the other person is not interested when they are (negative bias)
What happens when these biases occur between men and women?
Men who have a positive bias towards women may be rejected and even face public embarrassment or even physical violence. Men who have a negative bias will miss out on the opportunity to have sex and reproduce, which has a greater cost than the former. Therefore, sexual selection in men can lead to them mistakenly believing that a female coworker is interested in them.
On the other hand, women who are subjected to sexual harassment may experience negative effects on their mental health, physical health, and work performance. As a society, we need to take steps to prevent sexual harassment and provide support to victims.