chapter  9
34 Pages

Sexual Harassment

Lisa Olson and the New England Patriots, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, Tailhook, Packwood, Mitsubishi, President Clinton and Paula Jones. Although people had already begun to recognize sexual harassment as a serious workplace issue, these widely publicized events have had the effect of a national slap in the face, forcing us to focus our attention on this problem. Although people’s opinions and theories regarding sexual harassment have been wide-ranging, they certainly have not been neutral. The sexual harassment controversy is fueled by the many interpretations afforded by various definitions of sexual harassment. What appears to be blatant harassment to one person is nothing more than innocent flirtation to another. What clearly represents male domination over women to some is simply old-fashioned courtesy for others. In this chapter we organize and present cross-disciplinary research on sexual harassment. We summarize different viewpoints about what constitutes sexual harassment, its prevalence, its cost to the individual and organization, possible explanations for its occurrence, and ways to combat and eliminate such behavior. Consistent with the overall model of studying sex and gender issues in the workplace presented in chapters 1 and 2, we discuss sexual harassment from individual, group, and organizational perspectives. We hope this chapter will contribute to reasoned dialogue and discussion.