Watch CBS News

Gretchen Carlson on sexual harassment in the workplace

Gretchen Carlson on sexual harassment
Gretchen Carlson on sexual harassment 03:30

The sexual scandal that's rocking the movie world is hitting all too close to home for TV journalist Gretchen Carson, who reached an out-of-court settlement with Fox News last year. She's written a new book, "Be Fierce," about harassment in the workplace:

The horrific sexual harassment revelations this past week about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein actually give me hope -- that women standing up and saying "We're not going to take it anymore"? It's working.

Women face an excruciating decision when sexually harassed: take the abuse, or take on a culture where the odds are stacked against you.

Will you be believed? Retaliated against? Lose your job?

Center Street

It's crazy that in 2017 these fears are still realities for millions of working women.

And it must stop.

Making it professionally is the American dream.

I believed in it growing up in a small town in Minnesota with a mom who told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I learned early on that being fierce was about building self-esteem from the inside out. Through hard work and perseverance, I became fierce -- as a concert violinist, a Stanford grad, a Miss America, a journalist.

But even those accomplishments didn't protect me from sexual harassment.

And after I told my story, thousands of women reached out to share theirs. Because for so many, their professional dreams had been stripped away by some random jerk.

One executive told me when she was fired she "stopped existing." Life went on at her company as if she had never been there.

A police officer said her harasser got to stay on the job while she was demoted in rank.

This overwhelming fear is one reason studies show 70 percent of women never report workplace harassment.

So how do we fix this?

I believe we must change our laws. Did you know forced arbitration clauses -- common now in employee contracts -- keep women's complaints secret, take away your 7th Amendment right to an open jury process, and many times allow perpetrators to stay in their jobs? 

Bystanders must become allies. Anyone who witnesses sexual harassment has the power to help, and men are especially important partners in this fight. The more men are determined to hold their peers accountable and reject the "boys will be boys" excuse, the faster we can stop harassment cold.

Every time another woman tells her story, others discover they can, too, Iike a chain of inspiration. My own daughter told me, "When people ask me what happened to you, Mom, I feel so proud to say you are my mom."

And later, when she found the courage to stand up to kids making her life miserable, she said, "I knew I could do it, Mom, because I saw you do it." Giving that gift of courage is contagious.

And here we are -- at a national tipping point, with more and more women bravely coming forward.

As the allegations against Harvey Weinstein remind us, when one woman speaks up, titans fall. When we all speak up together, we have the power to change the world. 

For more info: 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.