Portland State University. Department of Psychology
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology
Sexual harassment, Sex role in the work environment, Power (Social sciences)
1 online resource (2, 44 pages)
Sexual harassment is an important issue in today's workplace. Employees who have been sexually harassed may experience stress and a hostile, unpleasant work environment. Researchers have suggested that a person's level of power may affect the occurrence of sexual harassment.
The purpose of the present study was to partially test a theoretical model relating power and sexual harassment in order to determine if there is a connection between a victim's level of position and personal power and the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace. The study attempted to answer the following questions: 1) Do men hold more power than women? 2) Do those with low position and personal power experience more sexual harassment than people with high position and personal power? 3) Are individuals with low position and personal power more likely to witness sexual harassment of another employee than those with high position and personal power? 4) Do women experience more sexual harassment than men?
A questionnaire was distributed to public sector employees and 118 returned the survey for a 39% return rate. Respondents were asked to (1) rate their own levels of position power and personal power, (2) provide their actual job level in the organization, (3) answer whether or not they had experienced any of five different levels of sexual harassment, and (4) provide standard demographic information.
Using a MANOVA, it was found that men held significantly more power than women, but follow-up ANOVAs showed that men held more power only through actual job level, and not through self-reported levels of power. Hierarchical multiple regression revealed that individuals with low position and personal power experienced a significantly higher incidence of gender harassment (the least severe form of harassment) than people with high power levels. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis also showed no difference in the level of position and personal power of respondents and incidence of directly observing sexual harassment. Regression analysis suggested that women experienced significantly more gender harassment and seductive behavior, the two least severe forms of harassment, than men. These results partially supported a previously formulated model of power and sexual harassment.
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LaBonte, Eva Marie, "The Effects of Position Power and Personal Power on the Incidence of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace" (1997). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5326.