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Worksite Gender Harassment Is Problematic

A new study finds that gender harassment in the workplace is just as distressing as sexual advances for women on the receiving end.

Gender harassment is defined as verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey insulting, hostile and degrading attitudes to women.

According to Emily Leskinen, Lilia Cortina, and Dana Kabat from the University of Michigan, gender harassment leads to negative personal and professional outcomes too and, as such, is a serious form of sex discrimination.

In their view, there is a case for interpreting existing legislation as including gender harassment, so that it is recognized as a legitimate and serious form of sex-based discrimination in the workplace.

Their work is published online in Springer’s journal Law and Human Behavior.

The generally accepted view of sexual harassment sees unwanted sexual attention as an essential component. What Leskinen’s work shows is that nine out of 10 harassed women in her sample had experienced gender harassment primarily in the absence of sexual advances in the workplace.

And yet, within the current legal conception of sexual harassment, gender harassment involving no sexual advances routinely gets neglected by the law.

Leskinen, Cortina, and Kabat analyzed survey data from women working in two male-dominated environments: the U.S. military (9,725 women) and federal legal practice (1,425 women).

Their analyses revealed five typical profiles of harassment: low victimization (sexist behavior); gender harassment (sexist and crude harassment); gender harassment with unwanted sexual attention; moderate victimization (moderate levels of all types of harassment); high victimization (frequent harassment).

The large majority (90 percent) of harassment victims fell into one of the first two groups, which describe virtually no unwanted sexual advances, yet are the most common manifestations of sex-based harassment.

Compared to nonvictims, gender-harassed women reported negative personal and professional outcomes in the two different work environments.

In the military, victims scored significantly lower on all work attitudes and reported greater performance decline due to both physical and emotional health.

They also described less overall psychological well-being and health satisfaction and had more thoughts and intentions of leaving their jobs. Among attorneys, gender-harassed women reported lower satisfaction with professional relationships and higher job stress.

These results suggest that gender-harassed women, like women who experience sexual advance harassment, fare poorly in the workplace.

Source: Springer

Worksite Gender Harassment Is Problematic

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Worksite Gender Harassment Is Problematic. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 9 Aug 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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