Sexual harassment in academia: scenario construction and gender differences in students' behavioral definitions and judgments

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1991
Authors
Hippensteele, Susan K.
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Growing attention to the problem of sexual harassment in academia has stimulated attempts to clearly define the phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to investigate patterns of students' judgments to scenarios designed to represent the "gender harassment," "seductive behavior," and "sexual bribery" (Fitzgerald & Shullman, 1985) domains of sexual harassment without the use of emotionally laden language. Student participants (n=986) completed three questionnaires. The first questionnaire assessed students' sex-role stereotypes and attitudes; the second questionnaire assessed students' experiences of sexual harassment; the third questionnaire assessed judgments of scenarios describing realistic situations between people of different genders, status and academic positions. The scenarios were constructed using emotionally "neutral" language to avoid leading participants to specific judgments of harm or intent. Participants were asked to judge behavior depicted in the scenarios in terms of appropriateness, sexism, sexual harassment, and reportability, without being given a predetermined definition of sexual harassment from which to reference their decisions. Analyses indicate that there is some relationship between stereotypic attitudes and scenario judgments and that there are significant gender differences in the patterns of judgments. Significant ethnic differences in sex-role stereotypes and patterns of judgments were not obtained. These descriptive data support other studies which stress the problem of oversimplification of the dimensions within the phenomenon of sexual harassment, and may guide future studies designed to more clearly define the "hostile environment" aspect of sexual harassment which must consider relationships between gender, status, academic position, context, and victims perceptions in determining seriousness of the harassment.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1991.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 165-172)
Microfiche.
viii, 172 leaves, bound ill. 29 cm
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Psychology; no. 2667
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