Workplace sexual harassment: Action, inaction and the way forward


  • Gyða Margrét Pétursdóttir
  • Kristín Anna Hjálmarsdóttir



Sexual harassment, action, resistance, Reykjavík Metropolitan Police.


In the wake of the Icelandic #Metoo movement ways to eliminate sexual harassment, a manifestation of gender-based discrimination, have been called for. A fairly broad consensus seems to exist that policies, procedures and education is the key to success. However, research shows that gender equality projects often face resistance. This article is based on action research conducted at the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police, focusing on formal and informal resistance to analyze barriers and opportunities in equality work aimed at combating sexual harassment. The aim of the research was twofold; to map existing gender structures and to educate. In this article there is a special emphasis on the responses and experiences of the in-group forum designed to educate and raise awareness. The results reveal that there was a tendency to shift the responsibility elsewhere, that resources were limited and that there was a tendency to focus on ‘bad’ individuals instead of seeing sexual harassment as part of the workplace culture. These are examples of both formal and informal resistance. In the in-group forum there was an opportunity to discuss these manifestations of resistance and to discuss different manifestations of sexual harassment. Other organizations can learn from the results when strategizing to combat sexual harassment.

Author Biographies

Gyða Margrét Pétursdóttir

Docent Professor, University of Iceland.

Kristín Anna Hjálmarsdóttir

MA in gender studies, independent researcher.



How to Cite

Pétursdóttir, G. M., & Hjálmarsdóttir, K. A. (2019). Workplace sexual harassment: Action, inaction and the way forward. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 15(1), 91–112.



Peer Reviewed Articles