Professors George Veletsianos and Jairgris Hodson look at the ways social media platforms are utilized to harass women academics at disproportionate rates in Inside Higher Ed. They note that such attacks on public scholars have a significant impact on our society and conclude with several strategies for those facing social media harassment.
So who exactly is at risk of harassment? They form a long list: women scholars who challenge the status quo; women who have an opinion that they are willing to express publicly; women who raise concerns about power; women of all body types and shapes. Put succinctly, people may be targeted for a range of reasons, but women in particular are harassed partly because they happen to be women who dare to be public online. Our respondents reported that they are harassed because they are women. Because they are women, they become targets.
At this point, if you are a woman reading this, you might be nodding your head, or you might feel frustrated that we are pointing out something so incredibly obvious. We might as well point out that rain is wet. But unfortunately, for many people who have not experienced the reality of being a woman online, this fact is still not obvious, is minimized, or is otherwise overlooked. To be clear, there is a gendered element to how both higher education institutions and technology companies handle this issue.