While putting together our Women’s Voices Project, we heard from women about the importance of getting involved in local issues, the challenges of coming forward after experiencing sexual harassment, and the role of female mentors. It can be daunting to figure out how to take the first step towards reporting a harasser or advocating for change within your community. Here are resources for where to start.
If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace
- First, decide what actions you’d like to pursue. “Each person who experiences harassment needs to decide what justice looks like to her,” says Laramie Gorbett, a human trafficking specialist at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. “Figure out whether you want to report the abuse so that it stops, or if you want ramifications within your company, or legal or criminal ramifications for the behavior.”
- Document your experiences, and consult your employee handbook for your company’s specific protocol for reporting sexual harassment, whether that be informing your boss, going to Human Resources, or submitting an incident claim.
- If you work at a company with fifteen or more employees, or work for state or local government (no matter the number of employees), you can file a formal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Texas Workforce Commission within 180 days of the incident.
- If you’re a member of a union, contact it for guidance on how to negotiate reporting an incident within your company.
- If you’ve experienced sexual assault and want to pursue legal action, you can contact Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault, a project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid that provides survivors with free legal services.
- You can also reach out to outside resources for support, like the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network or the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, which offers a crisis center locator for support and services across the state.
If you want to get involved in politics
- Research the issues that you care about through sites like the League of Women Voters.
- If you’re considering running for office, tap into support networks like the nonpartisan She Should Run, liberal EMILY’s List, and conservative Connecting Conservative Women. Think about how you can get involved based on your skills and interests. “There is no one path to elected office, or cookie-cutter formula to become an elected official,” says Sofia Pereira, community manager at She Should Run. “Women can identify their own leadership style and build their networks to find the path that makes the most sense to them for getting more involved in their community, whether that’s as a member of the school board or city council or as a state representative.”
- If you’d like to support women running for office, take advantage of organizations like RNC Women or the National Federation of Democratic Women to find female candidates in races in your community.
If you’re looking for female mentorship opportunities
- Reach out to women within your organization or company for mentorship, and offer mentorship to women you supervise.
- Look to professional organizations that develop female networking within your field, like the Society of Women Engineers, Pink Petro (for the energy field), the Association for Women in Science, the American Medical Women’s Association, or the Journalism and Women Symposium.
- You can also look to larger female mentorship communities like Lean In.