Power is at the core of feminist theories of sexual harassment, though it has rarely been measured directly in terms of workplace authority. While popular characterizations portray male supervisors harassing female subordinates, power-threat theories suggest that women in authority may be more frequent targets.
This article analyzes longitudinal survey data and qualitative interviews from the Youth Development Study YDS to test View only organization management role in sexual harassment idea and to delineate why and how supervisory authority, gender non-conformity, and workplace sex ratios affect Relative to non-supervisors, female supervisors are more View only organization management role in sexual harassment to report harassing behaviors and to define their experiences as sexual harassment.
Though the term sexual harassment was not coined until the s Farleyformal organizational responses have since diffused rapidly Dobbin and Kelly ; Schultz Today, sexual harassment workshops, policies, and grievance procedures are standard
View only organization management role sexual harassment of the human resources landscape, while a robust scholarly literature ties harassment to gender inequalities Martin and other forms of workplace discrimination Lopez, Hodson, and Roscigno Power, at work and in the broader society, pervades each of these literatures and their accounts of harassment Berdahl a ; Rospenda, Richman, and Nawyn ; Welsh Yet, after three decades of scholarship, basic questions about whether and how workplace power affects harassment remain unanswered.
Much of the evidence relies on inconsistent measures, wide-ranging time frames, and narrowly focused samples. With rare exceptions e. In the absence of rigorous qualitative and View only organization management role in sexual harassment designs, the dynamics of gender, power, and harassment remain poorly understood. This paper uses quantitative and qualitative data from the Youth Development Study YDS to consider three hypotheses from an integrated feminist model of sexual harassment, testing whether supervisory authority, gender identity, and industry sex composition are linked to experiences of harassment.
Using strong statistical controls for individual differences, our quantitative models predict whether respondents report any harassing behaviors, the number of harassing behaviors they report, and whether they subjectively interpret their experiences as harassment. After establishing the basic empirical relations using survey data, we analyze qualitative interviews with YDS respondents to delineate and explain the processes underlying these relationships.
View only View only organization management role in sexual harassment management role in sexual harassment situate both sets of results within theories of gender and power, and extant research on sexual harassment. Due, in part, to varying definitions and indicators, View only organization management role in sexual harassment estimates vary dramatically Welshleading many researchers to adopt a strategy of triangulation that considers multiple forms or measures e.
Feminist scholarship situates sexual harassment within broader patterns of discrimination, power, and privilege, linking harassment sex-based inequality MacKinnon Quinn argues that other menrather than women, are often the intended audience of sexist gestures or comments. While men may be vulnerable to harassment if they are perceived as feminine DeSouza and Solberg ; Waldo, Berdahl, and Fitzgeraldwomen may be targeted if they challenge their subordinate position in the gender system.
Women holding authority positions thus offer an intriguing paradox for theory and research on sexual harassment, with scholars advancing two distinctive positions. Women supervisors, who hold authority over male co-workers, directly challenge the presumptive superiority of men. Women continue to be underrepresented in positions of authority or relegated to the lower rungs of management Elliott and Smith ; Gorman ; Kalev ; Reskin ; Reskin and McBrier In fact, women are unlikely to be promoted to management unless a sizeable proportion of women are already in place, highlighting the difficulty of gaining initial entry to such positions Cohen, View only organization management role in sexual harassment, and Haveman Taken together, these processes point to women supervisors as potential targets for harassment.
Maass and colleaguesfor example, find that male participants in a computer image-sharing task sent more pornographic and offensive images to females identifying as feminists than to females adhering to more traditional gender roles. Correspondingly, De Coster and colleagues find that females with
View only organization management role in sexual harassment tenure, independent of age, were more likely to view sexual harassment as a problem for
View only organization management role in sexual harassment at work, concluding that the practice is used instrumentally against powerful females who encroach on male territory.
Each of these findings suggests that women supervisors may be more likely to experience sexual harassment than other working women. It is also possible that supervisors report greater View only organization management role in sexual harassment of harassment simply because they are more aware of the phenomenon. As a result, supervisors, who are often responsible for fostering a professional work environment free from harassment and discrimination, may be more likely to recall sexualized workplace interactions and to label such experiences as harassment.
Supervisory authority and expressions of gender are also tied to other forms of sex-based discrimination Stainback et al.
Sex-based harassment is driven by a motivation to protect sex-based social standing. For example, Berdahl b finds that females who perform gender in stereotypically masculine ways assertive, dominant, and independent were more likely to experience harassment. Apart from supervisory authority and expressions of gender, the demography of a workplace also influences harassment experiences. While sexual harassment occurs across a diverse range of job settings e.
Nevertheless, the weight of the evidence suggests that harassment, of both men and women, most often occurs in male-dominated work settings Fitzgerald et al. Based on the dynamics of sex, gender, and power in the workplace, we
View only organization management role in sexual harassment three primary hypotheses:. Females holding workplace authority positions i.
Sexual harassment will be greater in industries and occupations characterized by a higher proportion of
View only organization management role in sexual harassment workers. After testing these hypotheses in our quantitative analyses, we View only organization management role in sexual harassment to qualitative interview data to understand the underlying process behind these patterns. By probing the experiences of our survey participants, we are better able to explain why and how gender, sex, and power shape harassment experiences and
View only organization management role in sexual harassment interactions more broadly.
We analyze longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study 2 Mortimer The View only organization management role in sexual harassment began inwhen participants were ninth graders in St. Paul, Minnesota public schools. The sample was comprised of 1, youth, who have since been surveyed regularly.
For this paper, we analyze the and surveys, when participants were approximately 29 and 30 years old. Quantitative studies are sometimes criticized for assuming that all sexuality in the workplace is harmful to women, or that women who do not label their experiences as harassment are suffering from false consciousness Williams, Giuffre, and Dellinger Because some sexual behavior is experienced as tolerable or pleasurable by workers Dellinger and Williams ; Giuffre and Williams ; Lerum ; Schultz ; WilliamsYDS respondents were asked about sexual behaviors that they considered offensive or made them uncomfortable.
While this wording admits a range of conduct that may fall short of legal definitions of harassment, it clearly eliminates sexualized interactions that respondents would consider pleasurable. Finally, to avoid potential biases associated with behavioral indicators, we
View only organization management role in sexual harassment ask respondents directly whether they would classify their own experiences as sexual harassment.
While our survey results reveal patterns of association, they cannot speak directly to the more subtle and specific mechanisms linking group membership to opportunities and outcomes Gross As such, we also conducted interviews with YDS respondents 14 men and 19 women to more closely examine the processes linking power and gender and to better contextualize harassment experiences.
We asked interview participants a series of open-ended questions about their work histories and interactions, inviting them to
View only organization management role in sexual harassment what they felt was most important based on our interest in harassment, workplace problems, and workplace sexuality. In andYDS participants reported whether they had experienced eight harassing behaviors in the past year and whether they considered their experiences to be sexual harassment.
The measures capture very similar experiences across the two waves, though the wording differs slightly between and We adopt a strategy of triangulation to capture both behavioral and subjective dimensions of sexual harassment. First, we View only organization management role in sexual harassment whether respondents reported any behavioral indicator 36 percent did in Gender plays an important part in the process of subjectively defining as sexual harassment, with men less likely than women to apply the term to their experiences ; Uggen and Blackstone We therefore model this outcome for females only.
View only organization management role in sexual harassment in Table 111 percent of females reported subjective harassment. Authority position and other independent variables are likely tied to both legal consciousness and sexual harassment. If supervisory status is related to subjective harassment but not the behavioral measures, this might indicate greater consciousness of harassment and legal rights among supervisors.
If supervisory status affects both indicators, however, this would suggest differences in actual targeting as well as consciousness. We measure workplace power as supervisory authority in To model sex differences in the influence of organizational power, we created an interaction term between sex and supervisory authority. Sex is measured with a self-reported dichotomous item male is coded as 1. Clearly, questionnaire items on femininity are subject to gendered social desirability biases, such that some men may be reluctant to report that they are feminine at all.
Given the limited racial View only organization management role in sexual harassment ethnic diversity of the YDS, we use simple dichotomous measures of race 83 percent white in our analytic View only organization management role in sexual harassment and national origin 94 percent U. Some studies show that women of color are more likely targets, or experience more virulent forms of harassment Mansfield et al. Qualitative studies considering intersection of multiple roles, however, suggest that women of color are subject to a racialized form of sexual harassment View only organization management role in sexual harassment may be distinct from that experienced by white women Buchanan and Ormerod ; Texeira With regard to family status, single women tend to be targeted more than married women De Coster et al.
De Coster and colleagues theorize that single women are perceived as challenging traditional family structures, and are viewed as less protected and more sexually available. As shown in Table 171 percent of our respondents were married or cohabiting, and 60 percent had children. De Coster et al. Respondents reported their number of weekly work hours and the number of employees in their workplace.
People employed in large establishments are likely to encounter a broader range of individuals at work, and potential harassers may be more inclined to act inappropriately due to the anonymity of large organizations Chamberlain et al. On the other hand, larger organizations are also most likely to have formal harassment policies in place Hirsh and Kornrich Some studies also report a negative correlation between job satisfaction or job security and harassment, although the temporal ordering of these phenomena has not been firmly established Fitzgerald et al.
We measure job satisfaction and job security inrather thanas experiencing harassment may affect both measures. Department of Labor We first present results from logistic regression models predicting any sexual harassment.
View only organization management role in sexual harassment, we use negative binomial regression to predict the number of harassing behaviors. We apply a count model because this outcome is highly skewed and a negative binomial rather than a Poisson because of overdispersion in our sample. Next, we use logistic regression to predict subjective harassment, contrasting these results against the preceding behavioral models.
Each equation a lagged dependent variable for prior sexual harassment. This approach provides a strong control for stable, person-specific characteristics such as family origins that may influence both the independent variables and sexual harassment. Our models take the following form:. A total of working respondents answered our sexual harassment questions in both the and waves of the YDS.
To minimize missing data for independent variables, we substitute responses from up to two prior survey waves and This strategy resulted in a final analytic sample of cases. Our survey data cannot show how manifold and mutually reinforcing identities intersect, as it is difficult to keep sight of respondents as a whole when controlling for individual characteristics Shields ; see, also, Choo and Ferree Careful qualitative research can reveal how identities intersect, the social structures within which they are performed and created e.
We statistically model some of these intersecting relationships, but our qualitative data are better suited to this task. To analyze our interview data, we use the data management and analysis program NVivo. We initially coded the data according to the themes outlined in our interview guide.
After completing the first round of coding, we reviewed each transcript, looking for common themes and coding like categories of data together. The first author then re-read all 33 transcripts to ensure that the excerpts chosen accurately reflected the interview sample as a whole, with a special focus on themes bearing on our major hypotheses: Table 2 shows estimates predicting the likelihood of experiencing any sexually harassing behaviors in Models 1 and 2the number of harassing
View only organization management role in sexual harassment experienced in Models 3 and 4and the likelihood of subjectively defining these experiences as sexual harassment in Models 5 and 6.
Although YDS respondents self-report harassing experiences, there is great ambiguity in the meaning and interpretation of these events. While the first four models identify those most likely to experience harassing behaviors, they do not tell us whether targets themselves View only organization management role in sexual harassment these to constitute sexual harassment.
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