Identification of Sexual Harassment: a Student Sample
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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SAYRE-GIBSON, L. A. (2002). Identification of Sexual Harassment: a Student Sample. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Identification of Sexual Harassment: a Student Sample
LUCINDA A. SAYRE-GIBSON
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this measurement scale was to explore the abilities of a student sample of identifying instances of hostile-environment sexual harassment. The assumption was that an informed and aware participant would identify a majority of the items as forms of hostile-environment sexual harassment. The purpose of this project is to determine the effectiveness of the presentation of the legal definitions of quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment on the responses of an undergraduate class on a survey consisting of incidents of sexual harassment. It was expected that those students who were presented the information would display a higher likelihood to report in scenarios of sexual harassment in this pen-and-paper survey, than those who were not. The benefits to the participants would include knowledge of what behaviors constitute sexual harassment and how it should be handled.

INTRODUCTION
Identification of Sexual Harassment: A Student SampleCurrently there is a great deal of debate on the issue of sexual harassment, both quid pro quo and hostile environment. The negative repercussions of harassment in the workplace are extensive as well as expensive. These factors are cause for employers to look for training programs or other ways of dealing with mixed ideas regarding social-sexual behaviors in the workplace (Schneider, Swan &Fitzgerald, 1997).Hostile-environment harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct or actions cause an intimidating or offensive environment that interferes with the victim`s ability to work or get an education. Hostile environment harassment encompasses such a variety of situations with the legal definition being somewhat vague, and because each individual has their own concept of what are harassing behaviors, it is a difficult subject to study (Weiner & Hurt, 2000). How someone views the situation, depends on how that person perceives the situation (Williams, Brown & Lees-Haley, 1995). Victims of sexual harassment often do not acknowledge or recognize that the unwanted behaviors are sexual harassment. This study will question whether or not the participants will recognize such behaviors in a survey situation by what they report that they would do. Woodzicka and LaFrance (2001) have found that one’s beliefs about how one thinks they would act in a harassing situation is the basis of how that person reacts to how another person acts in that situation. Also, when surveyed women who answer in a manner indicating that they have experienced sexual harassment, however when asked they do not identify those experiences as sexual harassment. Research has shown that over all, women tend to perceive that more behaviors constitute sexual harassment than do men. In their meta-analysis, Rotundo, Nguyen and Sackett (2001) have found that there is a larger gender difference in perceptions of men and women in hostile environment situations, than in instances of quid pro quo harassment. This is perhaps because of the differences in judgments between men and women in regards to what is appropriate social-sexual interaction. Meaning and perception are ambiguous and dependent upon interpretation, therefore behaviors that are sexual harassment may be seen by some as casual banter or social contact (Williams et al, 1995, Kalof, Eby & Matheson, 2001). Bingham and Scherer (2001) initiated a sexual harassment program in a research setting and evaluated the results. They found, as was previously established, that men are not as likely to see social-sexual behaviors in the workplace as sexual harassment. Also, they found that male participants of their program had a negative reaction to the training program, as well as being more likely to blame the victim. The research did suggest that participants of the training program had a great deal more knowledge regarding sexual harassment than non-participants, seeming to indicate that there was a definite benefit to the program. Since quid pro quo harassment or requests for sexual favors in exchange for work benefits, advancement or even punishment is the most easily identified type of harassment; this study will focus on the more vague, hostile-environment harassment situations. This experimental design hopes to establish a pattern between 2 similar groups of students. The control group will be given a pen-and-pencil survey consisting of various sexual harassment scenarios. The experimental group will be given a handout with the legal definitions of both quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment, in addition to the same pen-and-pencil survey. The group that is given the legal definitions handout should be more likely to identify sexually harassing scenarios by stating that they would report the incidents. The questions will be forms of sexual harassment in varying degrees. The assumption is that an informed and aware participant will identify a majority of the items as forms of hostile-environment sexual harassment.


METHOD
ParticipantsThis research project used two classes of PSY200 undergraduates as participants in the project, one as the control group and the other as the experimental group. Forty-six undergraduate intermediate psychology students, however, two surveys were discarded due to incomplete/missing data. The remaining forty-four (10 men and 34 women, mean age = 21 years) from the two classes, participated in this study for extra credit. Selection of the participants was based on what students were present in the class on the day that the surveys were given. Confidentiality was assured because the participants were not asked for any identifying information; and only general demographic information was requested. MaterialsA printed summary of the current legal definitions of sexual harassment, both quid pro quo and hostile environment, was given to the experimental group prior to the survey. (See Appendix A for this example.) Data was collected from both groups using a 28-item Likert-type pen-and-pencil scale consisting of scenarios describing instances of sexual harassment, as seen in Appendix B. ProceduresThe first class, which was the control group, was given standardized instructions on filling out the survey, and then was allowed to complete the survey. The second class, which was the experimental group, was first allowed to read a summary of the legal definitions of sexual harassment. After being given time to read the definitions, the definition was returned to the experimenter, they were given the same standardized instructions and they then took the same survey.


RESULTS
A 2 (sex of participant) x 2 (treatment type) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the sex of the participant and the type of treatment given to the class, either the control, where class simply took the sexual harassment survey, or experimental, where the class read the definitions of quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment prior to taking the sexual harassment survey. A significant main effect was for the sex of the participant was found (F (1,40) = .079, p > .05). Males scored higher on the survey (m = 60.5, sd = 3.3) than females (m = 59.4, sd = 1.9). A significant main effect for which group the subjects were in was found (F (1,40) = .125, p > .05). Participants in the control group (m = 60.6, sd = 2.4) scored higher on the survey than those in the experimental group (m = 59.3, sd = 3.0). The interaction was also significant (F (1,40) = 2.207, p > .05). Males in the control group (m = 64.0, sd = 4.2) scored higher than males in the experimental group (m = 57.0, sd = 5.2), while females in the experimental group (m = 61.6, sd = 3.0) scored higher than those in the control group (m = 57.3, sd = 2.1). This comparison of means can be seen in Figure 1.


DISCUSSION
It was hypothesized that by doing this between-subjects design, the group exposed to the legal definitions of sexual harassment would have a better understanding of what sexual harassment is, and that this would increase the likelihood of the experimental group to report or seek some sort of action in incidents of sexual harassment. It was also thought that females would have a better grasp of sexual harassment situations than would men. Although the between-subjects effects were significant, the results were not as expected. The control group scored slightly higher than experimental group, and the men scored slightly higher than the women in both the control and experimental groups. The purpose of this project was to determine the effectiveness of exposing the participants to the legal definition of sexual harassment based on the responses of an undergraduate class on a survey of likelihood to report sexual harassment. It was expected that those students who were exposed to the legal definitions of sexual harassment would display a higher likelihood to report scenarios of sexual harassment in this pen-and-paper survey than those who were not exposed to the definition. Based on the results of this study however, the legal definition seemed to have made no positive attribution to the participant’s ability to identify sexual harassment. One of the limitations of this study was the limited number of men in the classes that were examined. The fact that there were only 10 men in the 2 classes, limits the accuracy of the data. Another possible limitation is the external validity, due to the small ratio of males to females in the sample. It is therefore impossible to determine if the results would be replicable.


REFERENCES
Bingham, S.G. & Scherer, L.L. (2001). The unexpected effects of a sexual harassment program. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 37, 125-153.Kalof, L.A., Eby, K.K. & Matheson, J.L. (2001). The influence of race and gender on student self-reports of sexual harassment by college professors. Gender & Society, 15, 282-302.Rotundo, M., Nguyen, D.-H., & Sackett, P.R. (2001). A meta-analytic review of gender differences in perceptions of sexual harassment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 914-923.Schneider, K.T., Swan, S. & Fitzgerald, L.F. (1997). Job-related and psychological effects of sexual harassment in the workplace: Empirical evidence from two organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 401-415.Weiner, R.L. & Hurt, L.E. (2000). How do people evaluate social sexual conduct at work? A psycholegal model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 75-85. Williams, C.W., Brown, R.S. & Lees-Haley, P.R. (1995). An attributional (causal dimensional) analysis of perceptions of sexual harassment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 1169-1183.Woodzicka, J.A. & LaFrance, M. (2001). Real versus imagined gender harassment. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 15-30.


APPENDIX A
LEGAL DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENTSexual harassment as defined by law is any unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:· submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of employment; · submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual; or · such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment because of the persistent, severe or pervasive nature of the conduct. There are two legally recognized types of sexual harassment: · quid pro quo sexual harassment · hostile environment sexual harassment.Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an individual`s submission to or rejection of sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual or the individual`s submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of employment. · It is sufficient to show a threat of economic loss to prove quid pro quo sexual harassment. · A single sexual advance may constitute harassment if it is linked to the granting or denial of employment benefits. · Courts have held employers strictly liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment initiated by supervisory employees. · A subordinate who submits and then changes her or his mind and refuses can still bring quid pro quo sexual harassment charges.Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual`s job performance or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment even though the harassment may not result in tangible or economic job consequences, that is, the person may not lose pay or a promotion. There are two conditions that determine liability for employers in cases of hostile environment sexual harassment: · The employer knew or should have known about the harassment, and · The employer failed to take appropriate corrective action. An employer can be held liable for the creation of a hostile environment by a supervisor, by non-supervisory personnel, or by the acts of the employer`s customers or independent contractors if the employer has knowledge of such harassment and fails to correct it. An employer may be expected to know about the hostile environment.


APPENDIX B
Read each statement carefully. Based on the information given in each individual scenario, chose the best response. Circle the corresponding response for each item.

The scale is as follows: 1 = do nothing, it doesn’t bother you 2 = it bothers you, but you still do nothing 3 = say something to a friend or relative 4 = say something to the person involved 5 = report it to a higher authority

1. Bob and Suzy know each other casually through their work. Bob asks Suzy out on a date, and Suzy says no; Bob then says he will keep asking her out until she says yes. If you were Suzy you would... 1 2 3 4 5

2. Anna, Ray`s boss, gives him a neck rub, because he has worked hard and made top sales at work today. If you were Ray you would... 1 2 3 4 5

3. Jack likes to tell jokes, which are often about sexual situations. Jenny tells him to stop because it bothers her; Jack says he didn`t intend it offensively, but continues to tell similar jokes. If you were Jenny you would... 1 2 3 4 5

4. Mary has a Chippendale`s calendar at her desk showing scantily clad men in thong swimsuits, Robert who sits near her, tells her that he finds it offensive. Mary says she can have the calendar because of freedom of expression, and that it is no big deal. If you were Robert you would... 1 2 3 4 5

5. Jerry brings a different girl home from the bar almost every night. At work the next morning, he always calls his buddy Steve to tell him all the info. Nick, his assistant, can overhear every conversation. If you were Nick you would... 1 2 3 4 5

6. Paul saw Elsie when she was working at the mall, and thought she was cute. Then he started coming in on every shift, staring at her, following her around and asking her out. She said she was busy, but he keeps coming in to see her. If you were Elsie you would... 1 2 3 4 5

7. Marvin came to work today and told a sexually explicit story. He does this at least twice a week, every week. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

8. Jim frequently says that a woman’s place is in the home and that women are too emotional to be in positions of authority. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

9. At the end of the week, Trent brings copies of all the sexist or suggestive e-mails that he has received throughout the week to share with his co-workers, whether they want to know or not. If you had to deal with this situation, you would... 1 2 3 4 5

10. When Lindsey wore a black lace dress to the office Christmas party, her co-worker Joe told everyone behind her back that she looked like a hooker. If you were Lindsey you would...

1 2 3 4 5

11. Every time you turn around it seems that Kris is leering at you. This makes you very uncomfortable because it seems creepy. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

12. Even though you have said no several times, Pat continues to ask you out for drinks or dinner after work on Friday nights. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

13. Lee often corners you at lunch and tries to get you to discuss your sex life. It seems to be turning into a habit with Lee, even though you won’t talk about it. If you had to deal with this situation, you would... 1 2 3 4 5

14. You feel that there is something creepy about Alex. Every time that you meet in the hall, Alex makes some comment about your body. Even though you try to avoid or discourage Alex, it keeps coming up. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

15. Several times when you have seen Jo after work at the bar it has been suggested that you two “hook up.” Even though you have said no several times, it keeps happening. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

16. Sometimes when you are sitting at your desk, Tim comes up behind you and plays with your hair or starts to rub your neck, before you can stop him. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

17. Your boss has asked you to go out for drinks, implying that if you go out, you can get first pick of vacation times, days off, etc. If you had to deal with this situation, you would...

1 2 3 4 5

18. Lu works at a banquet hall as a server. Sometimes during parties, Lu’s boss Harold has a few too many drinks and tries to get a little kiss. He never actually gets one and he`s been drinking. If you were Lu you would... 1 2 3 4 5

19. Mary worked very hard to lose 35 pounds and likes to show off her "new" body by wearing very short skirts and see-thru tops to class at the college. The grad student that teaches her biology lab has found out her phone number, and has called her every day for a week, asking for a date, even though she told him no the first time. If you were Mary you would... 1 2 3 4 5

20. Lara is nine, and has started to develop early physically. Boys tease her at lunch and between classes about her developing body parts. She doesn’t want to go to school and often tells her mom that she is sick. If you were Lara you would... 1 2 3 4 5

21. Missy was the first person in her class to have to wear a bra, and soon after, her name was seen on the boys` bathroom wall. When she told the principal, he was correct in saying these things just happen, and they`ll make her a stronger person. If you were Missy you would... 1 2 3 4 5

22. Josh was very overweight as a child and has recently gotten into really good shape. Mary, his co-worker, has commented four days this week that he has a very nice butt, and that is making Josh feel uncomfortable. If you were Josh you would...

1 2 3 4 5 23. Have you ever been sexually harassed? ____ Yes

____ No

24. Do you have any comments? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Please provide the following information:

Age: _____Sex: Male _____ Female _____

Marital status: Single _____ Divorced _____ Married _____

Class standing: Freshman _____ Sophomore _____ Junior _____ Senior _____


FIGURE CAPTION
Figure 1. Comparison of means of male/female and control/experimental groups.


Figure

Submitted 11/21/2002 12:46:27 PM
Last Edited 11/21/2002 12:59:22 PM
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