For the recent landmark report “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine” issued by The National Academies of Science, LeAnn Locher & Associates was charged with how best to visually tell the report’s complex definitions of sexual coercion, sexual harassment, and gender harassment. This aspect of the study is crucial to understand, with gender harassment being much more pervasive and deeper reaching, yet mostly running under the radar of what we normally think of when we think of sexual coercion.
An iceberg is a useful analogy in thinking through this story, with only a bit of it visible above water, and its massiveness and danger lurking for miles, deep underneath the water’s surface. In addition, unwanted sexual attention runs across both above and beneath the waterline. Underlining all of this, is gender harassment: the root base for sexual harassment.
Examples of these specifics were not suitable for personification or illustration, but concise content makes clear the actions and words that make up sexual coercion: obscene gestures, nude images posted at work, sabotage of women’s equipment, etc.
In addition, the design analogy lends support to storytelling and educating about sexual harassment, with phrases such as “the tip of the iceberg”, “freezing women out,” and “above and below the waterline” lending support to the narrative.