(KPLC) - The fall of Matt Lauer and so many others this year suggests sexual harassment is a much more pervasive problem than many people may have realized.
Janet Allured, Ph.D., is an author and professor at McNeese State University. She's a longtime advocate for gender equality who herself finds recent events shocking.
"It's hard for me to imagine the extent of this going on out there without those men being called to account before this," she said.
Allured teaches a women's history class in which she and her students discuss how and when sexual harassment became illegal in 1986.
"Feminists who brought this case to the Supreme Court argued, and the Supreme Court agreed with them, that sexual harassment was basically discrimination - gender discrimination - that prevented them from advancing in the workplace, or required them to do something that's inappropriate in the workplace, in order for them to advance," she said.
As a state employee, she and others must receive yearly training on sexual harassment. It's training she finds beneficial.
"It's mandatory for student workers, anyone employed by the state of Louisiana, all state employees. And it's a very good one-hour training that explains to us what sexual harassment is and also what it is not, because a lot of people are very confused about that," said Allured.
She hopes good will come from the issue being in the national spotlight.
"I hope it will empower women from this point forward to speak up and speak out and tell," said Allured.
According to legal scholars, the term "sexual harassment" was unknown before the mid-1970s.
To hear more of our interview with Dr. Allured, look for our web extra. For more information on sexual harassment, check out the U.S. EEOC.