Canada's top soldier Tom Lawson's comments about sexual harassment in the military stirred controversy. Professor Jennifer Berdahl discusses his comments on CBC's B.C. Almanac.
Berdahl said Lawson's comments, that sexual harassment and assault are a biological issue, demonstrated an outdated perspective that may be symptomatic of broader problems in the Canadian Armed Forces, citing the recent external review report by retired Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamp.
“I interpret his comments as being very misinformed about sexual assault and sexual harassment and what motivates it," Berdahl told CBC. "If you don’t understand the cause of the behaviour it’s very hard for you to address it or control it – it’s also indicative that he has not thought deeply about this issue or educated himself with recent information ... and it suggests he’s surrounded by a military culture with that same attitude.”
Berdahl, the Montalbano Professor of Leadership: Gender and Diversity at Sauder, has studied the experiences of women and minorities in the workplace for over 20 years. Her research has led to roles as a courtroom expert witness and advisor to Canadian Parliament and she's frequently featured commenting on issues of workplace harassment and gender equity in publications that have included the New York Times and the Financial Times.