Sexual Harassment Theory

Improved Essays
Effects of and Responses to Workplace Sexual Harassment

Victims of workplace SH experience a range of ill effects, such as job dissatisfaction and absenteeism. Victims also exhibit nervousness, anger and irritability, low self-esteem and elevated stress . In their research, Thacker and Gohmann found that the worst effects were associated with supervisor SH, sexual coercion, long term SH and SH in male dominated settings. Thacker and Gohmann draw upon several theories to explain these findings. They suggest that organizational power theory can explain why employees were affected more negatively by SH perpetrated by superiors. This theory focusses on how workplace hierarchies facilitate harassment of subordinates by their superiors. Employees may be more negatively affected by SH perpetrated by superiors because these perpetrators have the authority to make decisions affecting their subordinates' work lives (e.g., salary decisions). Thacker and Gohmann suggest that the contact theory, which describes the negative effects of "sexualized" work environments,
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A target of SH may not respond assertively to a harasser who is a superior for fear of losing her job or suffering other sanctions. On the basis of these fears, a target may also be less inclined to report a superior. The contact theory can also be used to explain SH victims' response patterns; namely, that female victims in male dominated settings may be less assertive because women are out numbered.

There are many well developed theories about responses throughout the psychological literature. These theories tend to explore why victims of SH trivialize their experiences, use avoidance, or do not respond. Some psychological research on responses, like research on effects, draws upon victimization theory. There is also a move towards conceptualizing SH as a stressful life event in order to understand how targets

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