A former stagehand has sued the Metropolitan Opera in New York City claiming sexual harassment. The plaintiff, a female carpenter, claims that her male colleagues regularly subjected her to unwanted and abusive propositions, crude comments and inappropriate pranks.
The plaintiff in this case was the only female stagehand and as a result, was subjected to unwanted attention from her all male co-workers. The harassment started with her supervisor who allegedly referred to her as "girl" setting an example for all other employees to follow and sending the message that gender based name calling was condoned by the company.
The plaintiff allegedly was physically assaulted by one of her male co-workers to such a degree that her injuries left her unable to perform her job.
Cases like this raise the question of how a woman can excel in a male dominated workplace where the atmosphere itself is hostile towards women. There are inherent differences that separate the sexes in the workplace that go further than physiological differences. For example, often times, men and women have different ways of communicating. This leads to different approaches to problem solving and conflict resolution.
Men in jobs such as carpentry inappropriately assume that women are not as skilled as they are. This baseless assumption leads to issues in the workplace and develops the type of hostility that created the nightmarish work environment at the Metropolitan opera.
There are organizations that exist that are designed to support women in "blue collar" jobs that have traditionally been held by men. In addition, there are a number of non-profit groups that help train women for jobs that have been traditionally held by men in the construction, utilities and transportation industries.
In the twenty-first century, with unemployment an issue in this country, it is not surprising that men and women are now in competition for the same jobs that were once traditionally held exclusively by men. This, however, does not give men the right to treat women poorly as they did at the Metropolitan Opera.
The New York Post has coverage of this issue.