Factors that influence whether people define unwelcome sexual joking in the workplace as harassment

Jul 31, 2008

A new study in Law & Social Inquiry shows that how people define sexual harassment is directly related to the extent to which they view sexual harassment rules as ambiguous and threatening to workplace norms.

Justine E. Tinkler of Louisiana State University used data from a nationwide study of sexual harassment in the United States' federal workplace to investigate how policy knowledge, attitudes about the legal regulation of sexual harassment, and the social locations and experiences of employees affect their likelihood to label uninvited sexual teasing as sexual harassment.

How men and women define sexual harassment is related to the degree to which they view sexual harassment rules as ambiguous and threatening to the workplace.

Women, particularly women supervisors, resist defining sexual joking or remarks as harassment. This may be due to the fact that women recognize that taking less serious forms of unwanted sexual attention too seriously can have negative effects on the way women are perceived.

Men with college or postgraduate degrees were significantly less likely to define sexual jokes or remarks as harassment than were men with a high school degree or less.

Among people whose workplace norms are threatened by anti-harassment enforcement, workplace training magnifies their resistance to defining sexual joking as harassment.

"By locating variation in how people define injurious behavior in both the content of the law, the social status of the groups it aims to protect, and how people think about its regulation, future research may be better equipped to understand why some laws never change the social order while others have an enormous impact," Tinkler concludes.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Interactivity tools can boost persuasiveness of websites

Related Stories

OrangeSec pair said Cortana visited Android

2 hours ago

Can, did, Cortana work on Android? A talked-about act at droidcon 2015: a presentation titled "Cracking Cortana." The OrangeSec team arrived at the Turin, Italy, event to show their work in a CortanaProxy ...

Mercury MESSENGER nears epic mission end

4 hours ago

A spacecraft that carries a sensor built at the University of Michigan is about to crash into the planet closest to the sun—just as NASA intended.

DOJ, FBI acknowledge flawed testimony from unit

5 hours ago

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against ...

Dawn glimpses Ceres' north pole

5 hours ago

After spending more than a month in orbit on the dark side of dwarf planet Ceres, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured several views of the sunlit north pole of this intriguing world. These images were taken ...

Recommended for you

Music: Will climate change give us the blues?

Apr 14, 2015

Climate change is predicted to intrude into almost every area of life—from where we live, to what we eat and whom we war with. Now music can be added to the list.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.