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NYSNYS NEWS: Siena Poll finds sharp divide between workers and CEOs's on questions of sexual harassment in the workplace and equal pay for equal work.
NYSNYS NEWS: Siena Poll finds sharp divide between workers and CEOs's on questions of sexual harassment in the workplace and equal pay for equal work.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 1) – Despite the advances made by women in society, business and politics in recent years, sex harassment and equal pay are still big problems in New York, a new Siena College poll says.

"71 percent of New Yorkers say that receiving equal pay is at least somewhat of a problem for New York’s working women and 69 percent see sexual harassment as either somewhat (43 percent) or a very big (26 percent) problem," Siena reported. "Only 27 percent of Upstate CEO’s see receiving equal pay as a problem while 30 percent think sexual harassment is a problem for women in the workplace."

"There's not that much divide on the global question on whether women have enough opportunity … The big divide really comes in on some of these issues that do or do not exist in the workplace," Siena College Research Institute director Donald Levy said after the report came out Monday.

He said the biggest poll finding that jumped out at him was the surprisingly high percentage of people who think sexual harassment is a workplace problem. There's a solid two-thirds who see it as a problem and a "weak third" of CEOs who share that view.

"It's seems to be on that one, a clear question of who are you?" Levy said. "Which world do you live in?"

The polling was conducted March 2-26, 2015 by telephone calls conducted in English to 804 New York State residents and by interviews with Upstate New York CEO’s conducted from October 22, 2014 – January 7, 2015.

The poll does not mention specific cases, but the findings appear to echo what happened in the state Assembly in the Vito Lopez case. The powerful Brooklyn Democratic leader was accused by his young female staff of gross sexual harassment, but Assembly higher-ups ignored them.

When the situation became publicly known, Lopez was driven from office and the women won a $545,000 financial settlement from the state, with Lopez ordered to pay an additional $35,000. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who protected Lopez, later admitted he mishandled the complaints. Silver is now facing unrelated bribery and extortion charges and was replaced as speaker in January.

"Younger women are saying almost to a person sexual harassment is a problem," Levy said the Siena Poll findings.

There was more consensus on the improvement situation for women in terms of job opportunities.

"60 percent of New Yorkers, 70 percent of men and 50 percent of women currently believe that women have either as much, or more opportunity to be successful in the world of work as do men," the poll found.

"70 percent of Upstate’s CEO’s but only 38 percent of female CEO’s agree that the old days are over and women have as much opportunity as men do while 26 percent of all CEO’s and 61 percent of female CEO’s say that things have changed, but in so many circumstances, it remains a man’s world, and that it is harder for a woman to succeed than it is for a man."