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UC San Diego Study Shows Sexual Harassment More Prevalent In California

A marcher carries a sign with the popular Twitter hashtag #MeToo used by peop...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A marcher carries a sign with the popular Twitter hashtag #MeToo used by people speaking out against sexual harassment as she takes part in a Women's March in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Researchers at UC San Diego’s Center on Gender Equity and Health have found 5% more women in California reported being sexually harassed than the national average of 81%. And, men in the state reported harassment that was 10% higher than the national average of 43%.

Dr. Anita Raj is the director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health, and she also led the statewide survey of about 500 respondents.

"The #MeToo movement really gained recognition through what was happening in Hollywood so we thought that would be a really important lens to see what has really happened after the MeToo movement," said Raj.

Raj says past national surveys had already shown higher rates of harassment on the West Coast. She says they could be due to greater awareness. It could also be influenced by the fact that California has several major cities, where street harassment often happens.

In the national survey of around 2,000 men and women, researchers found LGBTQ populations were particularly vulnerable to harassment. That was also the case in California. But in addition to that, foreign-born men in particular reported more events in the state than others did.

"There’s been a lot of rhetoric about certain populations being more likely to commit certain kinds of crimes and says that’s not the reality," she said. "And in fact, we see a greater vulnerability for immigrant men in the country."

Raj said the center is hoping to do more surveys with the migrant population in California to follow up.

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