Hostile Environment: A Discriminant Model of the Perceptions of Working Women

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This study examines the problem of operationally defining "hostile environment" sexual harassment, ruled a type of disparate treatment actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by the United States Supreme Court on June 19, 1986. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines a hostile environment as an "intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment," there is no consensus as to what is "offensive" behavior. An extensive review of the literature yielded various attempts to define and ascertain the magnitude of sexual harassment, but the fact that the actual percentages varied indicates that this is a difficult issue to measure. ... continued below

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vi, 118 leaves

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Kirk, Delaney, J. August 1988.

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  • Kirk, Delaney J.

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Description

This study examines the problem of operationally defining "hostile environment" sexual harassment, ruled a type of disparate treatment actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by the United States Supreme Court on June 19, 1986. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines a hostile environment as an "intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment," there is no consensus as to what is "offensive" behavior. An extensive review of the literature yielded various attempts to define and ascertain the magnitude of sexual harassment, but the fact that the actual percentages varied indicates that this is a difficult issue to measure.
As perception by the victim is the key, this study surveyed 125 working women from all over the United States to determine their perceptions of behaviors that constitute sexual harassment. Discriminant analysis was then used to correctly classify 95% of the women according to their perceptions of having experienced sexual harassment.
Using tests for proportions, three hypotheses were found significant. Women who have been sexually harassed are more likely to view sexual harassment as a major problem. Older men are more likely to have their behavior perceived as sexual harassment. In addition, women who have experienced acts such as staring, flirting, or touching in the workplace are more likely to perceive those acts as sexual harassment.
The hypotheses deemed not statistically significant yielded interesting results. Younger women are not more likely to be harassed than older women. Neither are single or divorced women more likely to experience sexual harassment. All women, regardless of age, marital status, or geographic location, are vulnerable to sexual harassment.
Of importance are which variables contributed the most to the women's perceptions of sexual harassment. None of the demographic variables was found significant, but the women perceived that they had been sexually harassed if sexual remarks, touching, sexual propositions, or staring were directed toward them in the workplace. Thus, these acts were perceived as constituting a hostile environment.

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vi, 118 leaves

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  • August 1988

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  • Aug. 22, 2014, 6 p.m.

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  • Nov. 5, 2015, 10:54 a.m.

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Citations, Rights, Re-Use

Kirk, Delaney, J. Hostile Environment: A Discriminant Model of the Perceptions of Working Women, dissertation, August 1988; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc331130/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .