Sexual Harassment in the Creative Industries: Tolerance, Culture and the Need for Change

Sophie Hennekam*, Dawn Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The economic, social and cultural contributions of the creative industries are essential elements of many societies and their governments' policies. However, there is growing evidence that precarity, competition and lack of regulation within these industries is exacerbating inequalities with respect to gender, race and class. With a focus on gender and sexual harassment among female workers, this study involved 32 in-depth interviews with women working in the Netherlands' creative industries. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Findings suggest that sexual harassment is prevalent, and many women considered it to be part of their occupational culture and career advancement. Four factors influenced this phenomenon: competition for work; industry culture; gendered power relations; and the importance of informal networks. Implications include the need for a climate of non-tolerance, sector-specific research and guidelines, sensitivity training and further work with unions and professional associations to provide worker protection strategies traditionally undertaken by organizations. The article concludes that effective sexual harassment prevention requires action at the individual, educational, sectoral and governmental levels, beginning with public conversations to convey the message that sexual harassment is never acceptable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-434
Number of pages18
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


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