Male/Female Differences in Perceptions of Sexual Harassment

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Male/Female Differences in Perceptions of Sexual Harassment

One of your male co-workers has a revealing photograph of a female on his desk at work. You ask him to remove the picture because it makes you feel uncomfortable. He does not remove the picture. Do you think this is a form of sexual harassment? According to Bertha Brooks, a speaker on the subject of sexual harassment, this scenario exhibits a form of sexual harassment. For many people sexual harassment implies different behaviors; there are people who believe this scenario would be far from any type of harassment.

This study investigates the different perceptions of how men and women define sexual harassment. It may be a simple look, slight touch, or a verbal comment. Whatever the situation, there will be a variance in the degrees, as to what men and women constitute as being sexual harassment. "Psychological texts on sexual harassment outline various forms of behavior ranging from quid pro quo demands for sexual services to hostile jokes and sexual innuendo" (American Psychological Association, 1981, 1991).

"Sexual joking, touching, and patting may be considered unwelcome sexual attention to some, but not others" (Gutek, Morasch, and Cohen, 1983). Women more often than men conclude that these forms of sexual harassment are serious and offending.

Is there a difference between what men perceive as sexual harassment and what women consider sexual harassment? The purpose of this study is to determine if in fact there is a difference. According to earlier research, men and women would perceive and define sexual harassment differently (Ellison v. Brady, 1989). "The findings that women define sexual harassment more broadly and inclusive than men is reliable" (Ellison v. Brady). "A significant difference between the sexes shows up both in surveys of working people and in scenario studies; fifty-nine percent of men rated sexual touching as sexual harassment whereas eighty-four...
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