On-job minority women harassment studied

March 21, 2006

University of Toronto scientists say they're the first to empirically document that minority women face workplace harassment based on both sex and ethnicity.

Professor Jennifer Berdahl and Celia Moore, a doctoral candidate, tested the "double jeopardy hypothesis" by surveying workers at three male-dominated manufacturing plants and three female-dominated social service organizations.

"If you add up their sexual and ethnic harassment," said Berdahl, "minority women are harassed more than others."

The researchers were interested in two theories of harassment: additive, which predicts minority women face harassment that is the sum of their status as women and as minorities, and multiplicative, which suggests sex and race are not independent categories and predicts minority women would face compounded harassment.

The researchers found their data supported the additive theory, although Berdahl suspects further research using a larger sample might point to the multiplicative theory as more accurate.

The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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