Gender and the definition of sexual harassment: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature
AuthorO'Connor, Maureen Ann, 1956-
AdvisorSales, Bruce D.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractTo prove a hostile environment sexual harassment claim, a plaintiff must show that the alleged conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to have created a hostile, intimidating, or abusive work environment. In determining whether that standard has been met, courts ask whether a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would have found the conduct harassing. Since 1991, some courts have determined that this objective standard can best be operationalized by asking the triers of fact to view the behavior from a "reasonable woman's" perspective. In the landmark case, Ellison v. Brady, the court justified the need for a sex-specific standard by implicitly relying on findings from social science research suggesting that men and women differ in how they define sexual harassment. A meta-analysis of 79 studies that examined male/female differences on definition of sexual harassment was conducted. A small but persistent sex effect was found (r=.1635) such that women tend to have broader definitions of sexual harassment than men. A closer look at male/female differences on individual stimuli showed that they varied considerably, however, suggesting that the important differences may relate more to the type of behavior being evaluated than to the sex of the evaluator. Additional research exploring these stimulus effects should be conducted.
Degree ProgramGraduate College