SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOimN STUDENTS
JUDY C. OSHINSKY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILIIENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Judy C. Oshinsky
In loving memory of
my father, Mr. I. Oshinsky
This study would not have been possible without the support and
assistance of many people. My gratitude is extended to Dr. Robert 0.
Stripling, Chairperson of my advisory committee, for his consistent and
enthusiastic support, helpful suggestions, and professional guidance.
My appreciation is conveyed to the members of my advisory committee,
Dr. Everett Hall, Dr. Janet Larsen, and Dr. Ann Lynch, who offered
support and encouragement.
My grateful appreciation is expressed to Dr. Ann Lynch and Dean
Phyllis Meek for serving as my much-needed mentors. Without their
constructive suggestions, enthusiasm, patience, and belief in my abili-
ties to approach and investigate the sensitive issues of this disser-
tation, it would not have become a reality.
My deepest gratitude is expressed to the following persons:
To my loving parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Posner,
for their constant support and encouragement;
To Ms. Shirley Hekimian for her personal concern,
support, and sensitivity;
To Ms. Patricia Hughson-Fisher for her perserverance,
concern, encouragement, and boundless energy in the
typing of the manuscript;
To Mr. Dennis Murphy for sharing his expertise and
many hours in exploration at the computer;
To my colleagues of the Institute on Sexism for
their financial and professional support;
To my colleagues of the Florida International
University Counseling and Advisement Services
for their consistent support and encouragement,
and for sharing their resources;
To my family for their patience and for believing
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . .
LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . .
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . .
ONE INTRODUCTION. . . . . . .
Purpose of the Study.
Problem Statement .
Hypotheses. . . .
Definition of Terms .
Outline of the Remaind
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . ..
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . ..
er of the Study . . ..
TWO REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE. . . . . . .
Background . . . . . ..
Occupational Stereotyping . . . . . .
Women in the Professions. . . . . ....
Sexual Harassment as a Barrier to Occupational
Equality. . . . . . . . . .
i-Definition. . . . . . . . . .
Relationship to Sex Roles . . . . . .
Relationship to Occupational Segregation. .
Consequences of Sexual Harassment . . . .
Prevalence. . . . . . . . . .
Review of Title VII Cases . ...........
Sexual Harassment as Sex Discrimination . .
4Bnployer Responsibility . . . . . .
Governmental Response . . . . . . .
Institutional Sexism. . . . . . . .
Background. . . . . . . . . .
Profile of Undergraduate Women Students . .
First Professional Degree Level . . ...
A Profile of Professional Women in Academia . .
Attitudes Affecting Women in Academia . . .
Professional Women. . . . . . . .
Professional Women's Aspirations. . . . .
Women in Administration . . . . . .
Attitudes Toward Female Graduate Students . .
. . . ix
. . . xi
Attitudes Toward Women Pursuing Non-
Traditional Fields of Study . . . . .
Sexual Harassment of Female Students. . ....
Prevalence of Sexual Harassment of Women
Students. . . . . . . . . .
Consequences of Sexual Harassment . . ...
Reporting Incidents of Sexual Harassment. ..
Recent Developments . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . .
THREE RESEAB METHODOLOGY. . . . .
Description of Sample and Sel
Instrumentation . . . .
Development . . . .
Phase I . . . . .
Phase II. . . . . .
Phase III .........
Phase IV ..........
Phase V ..........
Final Revisions . . .
Analysis of Data. . . .
Limitations ........ .
section . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
FOUR RESULTS . . . . . . . . . . .
Demographic Data. . . . . . . . .
Analysis of Data. . . . . . . . .
Items Concerning Attitudes and Beliefs. . ....
Items Concerning Experiences. . . . . .
The Relationship Between Items. . . . .
FIVE CONCLUSIONS, DISCUSSION, AND IMPLICATIONS . . .
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . .
Discussion. . . . . . . . . .
Implications . . . . . . . . ..
A Notation. . . . . . . . . . .
B Sample Cover Letter and Questionnaire . . . .
C Revision of Sexual Harassment Questionnaire . .
. . 74
. . 74
. . 76
. . 78
. . 78
. . 79
. . 80
. . 80
. . 81
. . 82
. . 82
. . 82
. . 85
C.1 Pilot Study: Questionnaire . . . . . 164
C.2 Pilot Study: Instructions. . . . . ... 167
REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................... 176
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Population and Sample Sizes. . . . . 75
Table 2. Composition of Sample of Female Students,
by Professional School and Level, Responding
to Sexual Harassment Questionnaire . . 88
Table 3. Number and Percentage of Male and Female
Faculty in Selected Professional Schools
in the State University System of
Florida. . . . . . . . . .. 90
Table 4. Multivariate Tests of Significance Using
Wilks Lambda Criterion for 12 Attitude
Items . . . . . . . . . . 94
Table 5. One-Way Analysis of Variance, A Posteriori
Tests of 12 Attitude Items Between Groups. 97
Table 6. Differences in Attitudes and Beliefs Con-
cerning Sexual Harassment Between Female
Students in Traditional (T) and Non-
Traditional (NT) Professional Fields of
Study Expressed in Raw Scores and
Percentages. . . . . . . . .. 99
Table 7. Differences in Attitudes and Beliefs Con-
cerning Sexual Harassment of Female
Students in Non-Traditional Fields of
Study Expressed in Raw Scores and
Percentages. . . . . . . .... 103
Table 8. Differences in Attitudes and Beliefs Con-
cerning Sexual Harassment Between
Graduate (G) and Undergraduate (UG)
Female Students Expressed in Raw Scores
and Percentages. . . . . . . .. 108
Table 9. Differences of Experiences of Sexual
Harassment Between Female Students
Enrolled Traditional (T) and Non-
Traditional (NT) Fields of Study Ex-
pressed in Raw Scores and Percentages . 112
Table 10. Differences of Experiences of Sexual
Harassment of Female Students Among
Non-Traditional Professional Areas of
Study Expressed in Raw Scores and
Percentages . . . . . . . 120
Table 11. Differences of Experiences of Sexual
Harassment Between Graduate (G) and
Undergraduate Level (JG) Female Stu-
dents Expressed in Raw Scores and
Percentages . . . . . . ... 124
Table 12. Two Canonical Factors That Relate
to Attitude and Experience Items
Expressed by Correlation Coefficients . 127
Table 13. Pre- and Post-Test Data . . . . . 150
Table 14. Factor Analysis of Attitude and Experience
Items . . . . . . . 151
Table 15 Pre- and Post-Test Scores of Attitudes
of Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Towards Sexual Harassment on Campus (Per-
centage Agreeing with Items). . . ... 152
Table 16 Pre- and Post-Test Scores of Undergraduate
and Graduate Students Experiences of Sexual
Harassment (Percentages Agreeing with
Items). . . . . . . . . 155
Table 17. Experiences of and Attitudes Toward Blatant
and Subtle Forms of Sexual Harassment,
Students Harassing Professors, and Re-
porting Incidents of Sexual Harassment to
University Officials (Percentages Agreeing
with Items) . . . . . . . 161
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WCMEN STUDENTS
IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Judy C. Oshinsky
Chairperson: Dr. Robert Stripling
Major Department: Counselor Education
The purpose of this study was to provide more accurate information
pertaining to the number of women students who have experienced some
form of sexual harassment on campus. The study also was designed to
examine the beliefs that women students have toward sexual harassment in
the college environment. Women students in the traditional professional
major area of education were compared to women students in selected non-
traditional professional major areas of study: dentistry, engineering,
law, medicine, and veterinary medicine. In addition, undergraduate
women students were compared to graduate women students.
Data were obtained from the responses to the Questionnaire on
Sexual Harassment of 1,111 wanen students at the three largest univer-
sities in the state university system of Florida. The results indicated
that a greater percentage of women in non-traditional areas of study,
when compared to those in traditional areas, experienced subtle forms
of sexual harassment. Approximately 80 percent of the female medical
students (dentistry, medicine, and veterinary medicine) have exper-
ienced instructors() who made negative remarks about females as a
group," while 64 percent of the law students, and 38 percent of the
engineering students shared this type of subtle harassment. A greater
percentage of graduate students, compared to undergraduates, indicated
experiences of subtle forms of sexual harassment.
No statistically significant differences were found to exist be-
tween the four groups when considering experiences of blatant sexual
harassment. Approximately 20 percent of the graduate women, compared
to 17 percent of the undergraduate women, experienced "unwanted sex-
ual attention from their instructorss)" About 20 percent of the
women in non-traditional fields, compared to 17 percent of the women
in the traditional fields of education (both undergraduate and graduate),
indicated that they experienced "unwanted sexual attention" from their
instructors. A canonical correlation analysis demonstrated that the
two highly correlated canonical factors exist. These factors were
labeled subtle and blatant forms of harassment. This analysis also
indicated that a relationship exists between women students' percep-
tions and their experiences of sexual harassment.
Various forms of sexual harassment occur on college campuses
across the nation. Incidents of sexual harassment may range from
sexist c omnents and unwanted physical contact, such as pinching and
patting, to subtle pressure for sexual activity. The unwanted sex-
ual attention that a student experiences from a professor or staff
member carries an implicit message that lack of cooperation will
bring negative consequences. The consequences may include continued
harassment, unfair grading practices, poor evaluations or letters of
recommendation, sarcasm and negative or embarrassing remarks aimed at
the student (Alliance Against Sexual Coercion 1979; Farley 1978).
There is a paucity of concrete evidence as to the existence, preva-
lence, or the consequences of sexual harassment in the higher educa-
tion community. Campus newspapers may tend to provide emotionally
charged facts; however, they do provide much needed information. The
following is an example of one such account:
A faculty member told a student, 'if you want to
get an 'A', you have to go to bed with me.' The
student's husband reported it to the department
chairman. The department chairman had a 'heart
to heart' with the faculty member instead of bouncing
him out on his ear. He shipped him off to another
college with a glowing letter of recommendation.
(Julin 1979, p. 10)
Just how prevalent are situations of sexual harassment on
college and university campuses?
Purpose of the Study
The primary purpose of this study was to provide more accurate
information pertaining to the number of women students who have ex-
perienced some form of sexual harassment on the campus. This study
examined the attitudes and beliefs of women students toward the oc-
currence of sexual harassment in the college environment. An addi-
tional purpose of this study was to further refine the definition of
For the purpose of this study, women students in the traditional
professional major area of education were compared to women students
in selected non-traditional professional major areas of study:
dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, and veterinary medicine. In
addition, undergraduate women students were compared to graduate
The results of research pertaining to the extent of sexual
harassment on campuses may be used for program planning and policy
statements by the State and Federal government and universities-at-
large (Guidepost 1979; Project on the Status and Education of Women
1978). In addition, it is hoped that this research will build a
foundation for and generate further research in the area of sexual
harassment of women students on the campus. Universities may also
become sensitive to the need for training programs for administrative
personnel, faculty, and students, relating to the issue of sexual
Sexual harassment of students by instructors does exist; however,
very little basic datawere available to substantiate its existence.
The prevalence of occurrence of such incidents needed to be determined.
Until university officials are faced with facts, in the form of data,
they will remain unaware of the extent of the problem. Until adequate
complaint procedures are established to report incidents of harassment,
there will be a void in the means by which the extent of sexual harass-
ment can be measured. Governmental agencies and professional organi-
zations have stated the need for research in the area of sexual ha-
rassment of students (Guidepost 1979; Project on the Status and Educa-
tion of Women 1978; Women in Action 1980). In Lin Farley's recent
book (1978), Sexual Shakedown, she stated that:
Sexual harassment is pervasive in American colleges
and universities. This pervasiveness, combined
with a lack of adequate procedures for complaining,
virtually assures that a certain percentage of
female graduate students will be victimized by this
abuse. (1978, p. 74)
Presently, there are six universities in the United States that
have publicly acknowledged sexual harassment as a problem on their
campuses. These schools have taken the initiative to implement
administrative policy in the form of reporting procedures designated
to handle incidents of sexual harassment. For the most part, women
in universities throughout the nation are rendered impotent in dealing
with this problem:
Because most women fail to publicize their com-
plaints, either formally or informally, university
officials may believe that the absence of complaints
indicates the absence of a problem. (Project on the
Status and Education of Women 1978, p. 3)
Presently, only 12 percent of the tenured faculty in the state
university system of Florida are female. The number of male faculty
has increased 25 percent in the last five years while the number of
female faculty has increased less than 2 percent. Female students are
rapidly approaching 50 percent of the student population (Wares 1980).
Female staff members report more incidents of sexual harassment being
brought to their attention than do male administrators (Raulerson 1979;
Julin 1979). At the University of Florida, 88 percent of the faculty
are males; there is an excellent chance that a female student may
never experience a relationship of trust with a female staff member
(Klein 1979). Determining whether sexual harassment is a problem on
the university campus, by calculating the number of "reported incidents,"
is analogous to determining the size of the iceberg by looking at its
An anonymous questionnaire was used to sample populations of
female students and survey their personal experiences, attitudes, and
beliefs concerning sexual harassment of females on campus. A ques-
tionnaire offers "greater impersonality, elicits more candid and more
objective replies," than an interview or incident reports (Mobuly 1963,
p. 240). The questionnaire appeared to be the most effective method
of measurement in aiding university officials in determining whether
sexual harassment was a problem of such magnitude that it required
Occupational stereotyping as an outgrowth of sex-role stereotyping
exists as a perpetrator of inequality. Occupational stereotyping, its
component occupational segregation, and sexual harassment function in
a mutualistic relationship. Occupational and institutional sexism
result in sexual harassment of women, and sexual harassment perpetuates
both forms of sexism. This symbiotic relationship provokes pernicious
results for women who defy and transgress the boundaries of their
stereotype. For example:
Women are often blocked by sexual harassment from
obtaining the academic degrees without which there
can be no entry into the majority of professional
occupations. (Farley 1978, p. 69)_
In Juanita Kreps book, Sex in the Marketplace, she stated that
women graduate students, more often than men, do not complete their
studies for several reasons. Kreps maintained that the failure of
women to complete their graduate studies was due to their lack of
interest, marriage, childbearing, inadequate fellowship support to
women, and admissions policies that favor men (1971). In response,
Lin Farley strongly asserted that:
It is time we recognize that what has been judged
female disinterest or lack of dedication is often
the effect of sexual harassment. Sexual abuse is,
in fact, so widespread in higher education that
school administrators should have made this connec-
tion sometime ago. (1978, p. 70)
This study measured the extent of this problem in the State of
Florida's three largest universities. The questions that were answered
by this research were:
1. To what extent, if any, does sexual harassment
of women students occur on college campuses?
2. Is there a difference in the frequency of sexual
harassment of women students in the traditional
field of education, as compared to women students
in those fields considered non-traditional pro-
fessions (e.g., dentistry, engineering, law,
medicine, veterinary medicine)?
3. Is there a difference in attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment of women students
between women in the traditional professional
major area of education and the non-traditional
professional areas of study?
4. Is there a difference in the frequency of sexual
harassment of wcren students among those fields
considered non-traditional professional areas of
5. Is there a difference in attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment of women students
among those fields considered non-traditional
professional areas of study?
6. Is there a difference in the frequency of sexual
harassment of undergraduate women as compared to
graduate wamen students?
7. Is there a difference in the attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment of undergraduate
women as compared to graduate women students?
1. There is no difference in attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment between women in the
traditional professional major area of education
and those in selected non-traditional professional
major areas of study.
2. There is no difference in the frequency of sexual
harassment of women students among selected non-
traditional major areas of study.
3. There is no difference in attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment between graduate and
undergraduate women students.
4. There is no difference between women students in
selected non-traditional professional areas of
study and the traditional professional major area
of education, in the frequency of sexual
5. There is no difference in the frequency of
sexual harassment of women students among
selected non-traditional major areas of
6. There is no difference between the two groups
(undergraduate women students and graduate women
students) in the frequency of occurrence of sex-
7. There is no relationship between attitudes and
beliefs of women students towards sexual harass-
ment and their experiences of sexual harassment.
Definition of Terms
Sexual harassment for the purpose of this study, sexual harass-
ment was defined as the manifestations of sex bias and sex-role stereo-
typing in the behaviors and attitudes of an individual in a position
of power or control. More specific behaviors included: sexist re-
marks and jokes, inappropriate physical contact, unwanted sexual
attention, and negotiations for grades/letters of recommendation based
upon a student's willingness to cooperate in sexual activity.
The Project on the Status and Education of Wcmnn defined male
sexual harassment at its extreme occurring when:
a male in a position to control, influence, or
affect a wmnan's job, career, or grades uses his
authority and power to coerce the women into sexual
relations or to punish her refusal. (Project on the
Status and Education of Womnn 1978, p. 2)
a standardized mental picture held in common
by members of a group and representing an over-
simplified opinion, affective attitude, or un-
critical judgement (as of a person, a race, an
issue, or an event). (Webster's Third New Inter-
national Dictionary 1976, p. 2238)
Professional a person involved in:
a vocation or occupation requiring advanced
training in some liberal art or science, and usu-
ally involving mental rather than manual work, as
teaching, engineering, writing, etc.; especially
medicine, law, or theology. (Webster's New World
Dictionary 1957, p. 1163)
Traditional) -- "conforming to tradition; conventional; custom-
ary." For the purpose of this study, the traditional professional
major area of study was education (Webster's New World Dictionary 1957,
Non-traditional the major areas of study that were not custom-
ary pursuits for women, to be considered by this study were: den-
tistry, engineering, law, medicine, and veterinary medicine.
Frequency the number of women who responded "yes" to the per-
sonal experience items on the questionnaire.
Outline of the Remainder of the Study
The remainder of the study is presented in four chapters:
Chapter II presents a review of related pertinent research
and literature in order to provide a theoretical foundation
in support of the study.
Chapter III provides an outline of the methodology that was
utilized to complete the study.
Chapter IV adduces the results of the study.
Chapter V presents a discussion of the results of the study
and introduces implications generated by the study.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
A review of the literature demonstrates that men and masculine
stereotypic traits are more highly valued in our society than are
women and stereotypically female traits. Male attributes, such as
independence, assertiveness, confidence, ambition, activeness, strength,
and logic, cluster to form the behaviors that may be interpreted as
competence. The stereotypic perceptions of women are characterized by
a relative absence of these qualities. Wcmen are assigned traits that
cluster to form behaviors that may be interpreted as nurturing and
emotional (Broverman, Vogel, Brovennan, Clarkson, and Rosenkrantz 1972;
Maccoby and Jacklin 1974; Shinar 1975).
Occupational stereotypes exist as a limiting factor for women who
seek the opportunity for total utilization of their talents. Sex-role
stereotypes are societal creations, so pervasive that they may be the
major determinant of an individual's behavior, learning experiences,
and career options (Appley 1977; Shinar 1975).
The world of work. Sex roles and sex-appropriate behavior extend
to the occupational world and define this world by sexual dimensions.
Literature on occupational stereotypes indicates that the phenomenon is
as pervasive and cohering as sex-role stereotypes (Harris 1974;
Schlossberg and Goodman 1972; Shinar 1975). Sex-role and occupational
stereotyping produce and perpetuate an environment conducive to acts
of sexual harassment of women. Sexual harassment of women in the world
of work is pervasive and pertinacious and will remain so until stereo-
types are dispelled and equity is achieved (Farley 1978; MacKinnon
1979). The stereotypically feminine characteristics of submissiveness,
compliance, and dependency leave women vulnerable to the dominance of
males in every aspect of our society (Maccoby and Jacklin 1974).
Higher education. The world of education, especially higher edu-
cation, is not innune from the effects of sex-role and occupational
stereotyping (Clark 1977; Feldran 1974; Group for the Advancement of
Psychiatry 1975; Rossi 1973). The academic environment echoes societal
The college or university frequently, if not always,
mirrors the attitudes of the general society toward
wonen and, despite stated goals to the contrary, at
times inadvertently reinforces many of these attitudes.
(Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry 1975, p. 35)
The literature demonstrates the overwhelming dominance of males
in administration and position of rank over their female colleagues in
academia (Clark 1977; Farley 1978; National Center for Educational
Statistics [NCES] 1979). Sexual discrimination of women permeates the
Perhaps no form of discrimination remains more per-
vasive or invidious among educators than that existing
towards women. Although improvements have occurred,
the spirit of new legislation will exert little effect
without attitude changes among the faculty who can en-
courage women to utilize their new opportunities.
Although discrimination may have become implicit
rather than explicit, it still results in differen-
tial treatment according to sex in academia. As
agents in higher education, we must seriously re-
examine our own attitudes and behaviors towards sex
roles, particularly the roles of academic women.
(Clark 1977, p. 103)
Female students are exposed primarily to male professors. The
power inherent in the student-teacher relationship provides the op-
portunity for sexual harassment, primarily of female students (Project
on the Status and Education of Women 1978). Title IX of the 1972
Education Amendments prohibits sex discrimination in education. It has
been decided by the lower courts that sexual harassment of students
constitutes sexual discrimination in education.
Sexual harassment is considered to be sexual discrimination under
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This law now provides recourse
for victims of sexual harassment in employment (Michigan Law Review
1978). Unlike sexual harassment of wcmen in the working world, the
existence and the extent of the problem have not been investigated in
Sex-stereotyping of occupations is evident in individuals as
early as five years of age. Research indicates that children from
kindergarten through sixth grade perceive occupations as "feminine" or
'masculine" (Schlossberg and Goodman 1972; Harris 1974). This was
demonstrated by Schlossberg and Goodman's (1972) study in which the
children were asked to indicate which jobs men and/or women could fill.
The subjects clearly indicated that women could not fix automobiles or
television sets nor could they design buildings. They could, however,
be nurses, librarians, and waitresses. Approximately 83 percent of the
girls and 97 percent of the boys chose an occupation for themselves
that was traditional for their sex.
Sex stereotyping of occupations was also found to be evident among
college students. The results of Shinar's (1975) study imply that both
college men and women clearly define sexual stereotypes of occupations.
Students rated 129 occupations in terms of masculinity, neutrality, or
femininity on a seven-point bipolar scale. Sixty-eight occupations,
including engineer, dentist, surgeon, district attorney, and veteri-
narian, were rated as masculine. With the same range of three points
on the scale, only 16 occupations were ranked as feminine. Just two
of the "feminine" occupations require college degrees, elementary school
teacher and registered nurse. Stereotypic attitudes relegate females
to occupations that are less desirable than those of males:
It seems reasonable to assume that those occupa-
tions stereotypically associated with high levels
of competence, rationality, and assertion are
viewed as masculine occupations, whereas those
occupations stereotypically associated with depen-
dence, passivity, nurturance, and interpersonal
warmth are perceived as feminine occupations.
(Shinar 1975, p. 108)
The findings of this study of college students' subjective ratings
significantly parallel the objective reality of the proportions of
men and women in various occupations (Shinar 1975). The National
Commission on Working Women reports that out of 441 occupations listed
in the Census Classification System, the majority of women were found
in only 20 (Network News and Notes 1978).
Sex-stereotypical views of occupations may be perpetuated by those
who influence young women and men in their career decisions. Research
indicates that career and vocational counselors as well as other
"helping professionals" do hold sex-stereotypic perceptions of occupa-
tions (Bingham and House 1975; Schlossberg and Peitrofesa 1973;
Thomas and Stewart 1971).
A 1973 study of secondary school counselors demonstrates the sex-
stereotypic attitudes of counselors towards women. Male counselors
tended to agree that a woman's most important function was '"motherhood."
The researchers concluded that ". .girls who do feel uncertain about
their careers might anticipate greater support on some important dimen-
sions of vocational behavior from female rather than male counselors"
(Bingham and House, p. 22). In congruence with these findings, Thomas
and Stewart's (1971) study previously suggested that high school coun-
selors perceived girls with non-traditional career aspirations as more
in need of counseling than girls with conforming career goals. Re-
search conducted five years later implied that counselors' attitudes
toward women did not change. In Ahrons (1976) study of approximately
300 school counselors, she determined that counselors perceived women
as deviant if they chose occupations that were incompatible with their
sex-role. Medvene and Collins (1976) indicated similar findings in
their study of school counselors, psychotherapists, and graduate
students. School counselors were most likely to rate certain occupa-
tions as inappropriate for women. Similarily, Donahue and Costar
(1977) concluded that school counselors discriminated in their occu-
pational choices for women. Approximately 300 counselors were given
case studies of six students and were asked to select an appropriate
occupation for each student. The case studies were identical with the
exception of the sex of the student. Females were more frequently
assigned to lower-paying occupations which required less education
and more supervision.
The implication of this and similar research are clear.
counselor bias exists against women entering a masculine occupation"
(Schlossberg and Peitrofesa 1973, p. 48). This is reinforced by
findings in a study of women with medical school aspirations. Pro-
fessionals who conduct psychovocational evaluations and counseling as
part of their daily routine perceived females with medical school as-
pirations as less psychologically adjusted than males with the same
aspirations. In essence the study suggests ". . the existence of
more prejudice against the unconventional woman by more experienced
traditional counselors" (Abramowitz, Weitz, Schwartz, Amira, and Gcmez,
1975, p. 130). In sumnary, the research demonstrates that young women
may be discouraged or not encouraged to pursue occupations that are
deemed "inappropriate" for their stereotype.
Occupational segregation as a component and result of occupational
stereotyping further defines and confines career options for both
Occupational segregation refers to the situation
in which minorities and women have different occu-
pations or types of jobs regardless of where or
for whom they work. In a hospital setting, for
example, a majority male typically is a doctor, a
women is a nurse, and a minority male is an orderly.
This type of extreme separation of employees may be
found in a variety of industries and appears to have
been even more camnon in the past. (United States
Commission on Civil Rights 1978, p. 39)
In 1970, a minimum of 65.8 percent of the majority of females
would have needed to change occupations in order to have an occupational
distribution identical to majority males. By 1976, an additional
.5 percent of majority females would have to make job changes to ob-
tain occupational equality. A greater discrepancy exists in the dis-
tribution of occupations between minority group females and majority
males (United States Ccmmnission on Civil Rights 1978).
Several consequences emanate from sex-typing and segregating of
occupations. One such consequence is exemplified in the lack of
career options for women. "In 1970, teaching and nursing accounted
for 63 percent of the professional women in the U.S." (In Wolleat,
Parker, and Rodenstein 1978, p. 106). An additional consequence of
occupational segregation is that although women have been changing
jobs and attaining higher levels of education, they have not achieved
equity of income:
Women workers are concentrated in low paying, dead-
end jobs. As a result, the average women worker
earns only about three-fifths of what a man does,
even when both work full-time year round. The
median wage or salary income of year round, full-
time workers in 1977 was lowest for minority race
wamen $8,383. For white women it was $8,787;
minority men, $11,053; and white men, $15,230.
(U.S. Department of Labor 1979)
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1978) reports that in 1975,
college educated men earned $7,000 more than women. No college educated
female group in 1975 earned as much as 70 percent of the college edu-
cated male group. The Commission report states:
Majority female college graduates have averaged
earnings less than majority males with a high
school education. Although educational attainment
seems to be linked to earnings, people in different
groups with the same educational attainment certainly
do not earn the same income. This indicator, in con-
junction with the data on college attainment, reflects
a bleak picture for black young men and women and for
majority women. Those who do overcome the obstacles
to a college education find financial rewards sig-
nificantly lower than those for majority males.
(U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1978, p. 22).
Vertical stratification. Women are generally in positions that
are subordinate to men. Even in fields that are female-dominated such
as education, men are in the overwhelming majority in supervisory and
administrative positions (MacKinnon 1979). In 1970, 85 percent of the
elementary school teachers were women. However, in 1973, only 20 per-
cent of the elementary school principals were women (Giele 1978).
Women represent less than six percent of the chief executives of insti-
tutions of higher learning (Camnent 1979). In general, women remain
in inferior jobs congruent with their stereotype or they remain within
inferior status positions in the same type of work as men (MacKinnon
Women in the Professions
Professional women as a group are transcending the stereotypic
parameters that society has dictated. The cost for this transgression
into the male bastion of the professions is incurred by both the fe-
male transgressor and the profession as a whole. Women in professions
that are traditionally male-dcminated experience inequities in salaries,
promotions, and access to the "old boy network" (Kaplan and Pao 1977;
Wolleat et al. 1978). In professions that have traditionally had a
higher percentage of women, such as education, women continue to ex-
perience inequities (Admac and Graham 1978; Appley 1973).
As women enter the professions, the professions experience a de-
crease in status or prestige (Appley 1973, Gross 1967; Rossi and
Calderwood 1973; Toughey 1974). More specifically:
. even when women can enter "masculine" occu-
pations, they choose to specialize in the less
prestigious areas of a profession and hardly ever
reach the top levels. It is a vicious cycle: women
have a lower level of aspiration, there is a poor
support system, their level of aspiration is lowered
further, and so on. And even if they escape this
first set of socialization barriers, they are given
the boring jobs or the most tedious tasks in the
professions. If women do gain entry to a man's
profession in large numbers, it loses status and
becomes a woman's occupation, and thus provides
lowered salaries. If men enter a woman's occupa-
tion, they are given the higher level, higher
paying jobs. ( Appley 1973, p. 309)
In a recent study where college students were led to believe that
a high status occupation would increase its proportion of female pro-
fessionals, both the desirability and prestige of the occupation de-
clined. The high status occupations included in the study were
architect, college professor, lawyer, physician, and scientist (Touhey
1974). These findings paralleled the findings of a study investigating
proportions of women in the higher and lower status specialities within
the professions (Gross 1967). The author discovered that women in
medicine were found primarily in the areas of pediatrics, psychiatry,
and dermatology. Women were seldom employed among the ranks of neurol-
ogists and surgeons. A similar pattern occurred for women in the law
profession. Female lawyers tended to be involved in practices focusing
on divorce, juveniles, and welfare cases, rather than higher status
specialities such as corporate law (Gross 1967).
Traditionally, women in the professions have experienced disapproval
by significant others. Female professionals cross the boundaries of
their stereotype into traditionally male-dominated fields. Similar to
any minority overstepping their bounds, women experience disapproval
and doubt. American psychologist Gerhart Saenger writes:
. the existence of a sound self-esteem, which in
large measure depends upon successful identification
with one's group, is fundamental for the development
of well-adjusted personality. The feeling of being
accepted and accepting one's group is basic for the
individual's security. Where the group is con-
sidered inferior by the larger society, and member-
ship in it related to deprivations, a positive iden-
tification with the group and the development of
strong ties of belonging become difficult. (In
Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry [GAPJ 1975,
Stereotypic attitudes are often represented by myths. Women pro-
fessionals, as a minority with an imposed inferior role, must cope
with the impact of discrimination that is perpetuated by these myths.
In a study concerning women physicians, researchers were confronted
with the following responses:
"Women doctors do not practice enough to warrant
training them"-a general practitioner.
"I have never met a woman doctor who worked as
hard as I do"-surgeon and dean.
"I read in a journal somewhere that only 10%
of women who take the boards in internal medicine
ever practice"--woman faculty member of an inter-
nal medicine department. (Heins, Smock, and
Martindale 1979, p. 297)
The preceding statements were made in 1977 in the presence of one
of the authors. They represent myths about women in medicine. The
data obtained from this research refuted these myths. The study indi-
cated that 84 percent of the female compared to 96 percent of the male
respondents were employed full-time and the same percentage worked as
much as did male physicians. Women were engaged in dual roles as 87
percent of the women had the responsibility for households (Heins
et al. 1978).
Women who enter the professions experience doubt from others as
to their camnitment to a professional career. As shown earlier, some
male counselors believed that motherhood was a woman's primary function.
Truly, many professional women have a dual role, that of housewife or
mother, and as a professional:
Men believe, and women accept their belief, that
woman's role should be selfless, dedicated to being
man's helpmate, and any work or career on the part
of women should fill in the gaps of time and energy
left over from their primary obligations as wives
and mothers. This adaptive role is compatible with
a job as a laboratory assistant, engineering aide,
or medical technician, but not with responsible
careers as scientist, engineer, or doctor, except
for those rare Amazons among us who can live two
lifetimes in one. (Rossi 1965, p. 53)
Salaries- Women in all occupations experience salary inequities.
Women professionals are not excluded from the unequal pay for equal
Even with experience and job occupation held constant,
women earn less than men. A 1971 study of chemists'
salaries showed that with seniority held constant,
women who held Ph.D.'s earned less than men with
B.A.'s. Another study (1971) indicated that female
lawyers with 10 years experience earned 200% less
than their male colleagues with the same experience.
(Wolleat et al. 1978, p. 106)
Women scientists, except for new engineering and chemistry grad-
uates, receive lower salaries in every work setting, in every field,
with every employee, and at every degree level. The discrepancy in
salary grows with the age of the woman. For example, female micro-
biologists employed by the federal government earn an average salary
of $4,500 less than male microbiologists (Women in Action 1979).
Females in the professional and technical occupations earn 70 percent
of what males earn in the same occupations (Working Woman 1980). Over
1,100 females in science and engineering were surveyed as to their ex-
periences as professionals in their fields. The respondents indicated
that women in their fields conmnnly experienced sex-related job dis-
crimination in promotions, preparation for top level careers, and
salary and fringe benefits (Connolly and Burks 1977). Women account
for 11 percent of all physicians and 28 percent of all psychiatrists.
Psychiatry is one of the lowest paying specialities a physician can
pursue (Working Woman 1980).
Professionally trained women have unemployment rates two to five
times higher than males with the same level of training in the same
fields. For example:
. among all doctorates in history in 1977, 2.9%
of the men were unemployed and seeking employment,
compared with 10.4% of the women. In the social
sciences, the unemployment rate for men doctorates
was 1.0% and for women, 4.0%. ("Progress In Professional
Labor Force Is Mixed Bag," Winter 1978-79, p. 31).
Overcoming the barriers. Affirmative action and anti-discrinin-
ation legislation is assisting women in breaking down the barriers to
equality in education and employment. Nearly 1/4 of all women entering
college now are planning careers that have traditionally been dominated
by men. A recent study determined that these women are planning careers
in engineering, business, medicine, and law (Conment 1979). As a result:
Women have approximately doubled their proportion
of earned degrees in the sciences since 1970 and
quadrupled their share of engineering bachelor's
degrees. In medicine, their share of new M.D.
awards has jumped from 5% in the mid-1950's to 19%
in 1977; in dentistry from less than 1% to 7%; in
law from 5% to 19%; in veterinary medicine from
5% to 18%; and in engineering, from less than
1% to 4.5%. ("Progress In Professional Labor
Force Is Mixed Bag," Winter 1978-79, p. 31).
Education is a traditional career for women. However, education
at the post-secondary level is considered a non-traditional career for
women. Women are customarily teachers in elementary and secondary
schools. Rarely do women become full professors, as they usually re-
main in the lower salaried positions at lower levels of prestige for
longer periods of time than do their male counterparts (Giele 1978).
A study conducted by Robinson (1973) reveals that:
about half of all male faculty are in the top
two ranks of professor and associate professor,
while less than a quarter of all female faculty are
in senior positions. (Giele 1978, p. 272)
Several barriers for women in the professions have been identified.
Tangible factors such as promotions, salaries, fringe benefits, and
preparation for advancement are being addressed by legislation. Subtle
barriers, such as sex-stereotypic attitudes and perceptions of the
woman's role in society, cannot be legislated out of existence.
A recent study comparing attitudes of college and high school stu-
dents in the United States and Israel suggests that "occupational sex
stereotypes need not produce sex bias in the judgement of competence in
a particular field" (Mischel 1974, p. 166). This study demonstrates
that in a culture where professional opportunities for women are plen-
tiful and where women are treated as equal to men in their abilities in
a variety of fields, sex bias is not as apparent as in the United
Perhaps the most pervasive and consistent barrier to women's
quality and fair treatment is the sex-role stereotype. The perception
that women are passive, dependent, illogical, emotional, incompetent,
and serve society best as housewives, mothers, and sexual objects,
perpetuates a myth and promotes an underutilization of human talent.
These same stereotypes are what research has shown the 'mentally
healthy female" to be, according to college students, mental health
practitioners, and society as a whole (Broverman et al. 1972).
Such perceptions are contradictory to the traits and attributes
of those who pursue occupations within the scientific professions.
Over a decade ago, Alice Rossi determined four factors that have been
found to be characteristic of the scientist:
1. High intellectual ability, with particularly
high scores on tests of spatial and mathematical
2. Intense channeling of energy in one direction:
strikingly high persistence in the pursuit of
work tasks, to the point that most are happiest
3. Extreme independence, showing itself in child-
hood as a preference for a few close friends
rather than extensive or organized group mem-
bership, and preference for working on his
own; in adulthood as a marked independence of
relations with parents and a preference for
being free of all supervision, roaming in work
where his interests dictate.
4. Apartness from others, with extremely low interest
in social activities, showing neither preference
for an active social life nor guilt concerning
his socially withdrawn tendencies. (Rossi 1965,
The United States Government cannot legislate attitudes, but it
can provide an environment, through legislation, which encourages women
to enter fields of their choice with guarantees of equality. As more
women exert their career options and expose their abilities, they may
gain acceptance. These women, pioneer women, transgressing stereotypes
and confronting the barriers that exist in non-traditional fields play
an integral part in the process of changing societal beliefs.
Sexual Harassment as a Barrier to Occupational Equality
Affirmative action legislation strives toward the major goal of
occupational equality. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ad-
dresses the issue of equal employment opportunities. More explicitly:
It shall be unlawful employment practice for an
employer . to . discriminate against any
individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because
of such individual's race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin. ("Sexual Harassment and Title
VII," 1978, p. 1009)
The Federal Government is beginning to acknowledge sexual harass-
ment as a perpetrator of occupational segregation, vertical stratifi-
cation, and sexual discrimination in employment (Farley 1978;
There is no precise or legal definition of sexual harassment; it
is broadly defined by MacKinnon (1979) as ". . the unwanted imposi-
tion of sexual requirements in the context of a relationship of unequal
power." Farley has expressed a more specific definition:
Sexual harassment is best described as unsolicited
nonreciprocal male behavior that asserts a woman's
sex role over her function as a worker. It can be
any or all of the following: staring at, commenting
upon, or touching a woman's body; requests for ac-
quiescence in sexual behavior; repeated nonrecipro-
cated propositions for dates; demands for sexual
intercourse; and rape. These forms of male behavior
frequently rely on superior male status in the culture,
sheer numbers, or the threat of higher rank at work
to exact compliance or levy penalties for re-
fusal. The variety of penalties include verbal
denigration of a woman sexually; noncooperation from
male co-workers; negative job evaluations or poor
personnel recommendations; refusal of overtime; de-
motions; injurious transfers and reassignments of
shifts, hours, or locations of work, loss of job
training; impossible performance standards and out-
right termination of employment. (1978, pp. 14-15)
There is a dearth of literature concerning sexual harassment. A
computer search demonstrated few sources of information. The descrip-
tors that were searched were sexual harassment, occupational stereo-
types, and non-traditional careers.
Relationship to Sex Roles
In Lin Farley's recent book, Sexual Shakedown: The Sexual Harass-
ment of Women on the Job, she defines sexual harassment in terms of sex-
role stereotypes (1978). MacKinnon, in her book, Sexual Harassment of
Working Women, reinforces the theory that sexual harassment is an ex-
pression of sex-stereotyping:
Sexual harassment is discrimination "based on sex"
within the social meaning of sex, as the concept is
socially incarnated in sex roles. Persuasive and
"accepted" as they are, these rigid roles have no
place in the allocation of social and economic re-
sources. If they are allowed to persist in these
spheres, economic equality for women is impossible.
(1979, p. 178)
The socialization of males and females in our society accounts for
differential treatment among the sexes:
In our culture the importance of sex-role conditioning
cannot be underestimated. In general, boys learn to
be independent, to initiate action, to be task-
oriented, rational, analytical. In contrast, girls
are schooled to empathy, noncompetitiveness, depen-
dency, nurturance, intuitiveness. These standards
continue to provide the model for "normal" behavior
and exert a powerful demand for conformity throughout
adult life. (Connolly and Greenwald in Farley 1978,
Men are socialized to be dominant and aggressive in order to be
"masculine" in general and in sexual relations. Women's sex roles de-
fine femininity in terms of submissiveness, passiveness, and recep-
tiveness to the masculine initiative in general and in sexual relations.
Too often, what men learn makes them "a man," is the sexual conquest
of women. Women unfortunately are conditioned to be men's subordinates
and to meet men's needs (MacKinnon 1979).
Relationship to Occupational Segregation
Sexual harassment of women workers functions to perpetuate occu-
pational segregation (MacKinnon 1979). As long as occupations remain
sex-typed, those who seek employment inappropriate to their sex will
be considered social deviants subject to social sanctions (Epstein 1970).
Until recently, sexual harassment of wanen has been commonplace and
legally allowed, legally undefined, and a blatant expression of women's
inequality. The literature demonstrates a change, in that very recently
sexual harassment has been considered sexual discrimination and a vio-
lation of the law (MacKinnon 1979). Farley (1978) and MacKinnon (1979)
both agree that sexual harassment of women is so pervasive in American
society that it is nearly invisible. Men's control over women's
survival, in the home or on the job, and over women's learning and ed-
ucational advancement, has institutionalized the phenomenon. This
abuse has been acceptable for men to do and unacceptable for women to
Women tend to be employed in "women's" occupations. They tend to
have male superiors and are paid less than males, on the average, for
the same work. Occupational segregation means women perform certain
jobs because of their gender. Their sexuality is implicit, as is their
appropriate sex-role. Women employed in '"male" jobs are exceptions and
are often seen as "tokens." Women tend to remain in low ranking posi-
tions, dependent upon men for hiring, salary, promotion, and retention.
A male superior's sexual demands are backed by economic power. About
75 percent of working women were employed in wvmen's jobs in 1970.
In 1973, more than 40 percent of all women were employed in ten occu-
pations. Women are restricted to the bottom of the socio-economic
ladder in dead-end, low-skilled jobs because of their sex. Women's
work is considered inferior work, work that is of low interest, repet-
itive, predominantly service-oriented, high contact with customers,
involvement with children, and keeping things clean (Epstein 1970;
Women's Bureau 1976). Sexual harassment of women can occur precisely
because of women's occupational positions and job roles. Sexual ha-
rassment keeps women in such positions:
Sexual harassment at work critically undercuts
women's potential for work equality as a means
of social equality. Beyond survival, employment
outside the home may offer women some promise of
developing a range of capacities for which the
nurturing, cleaning, and servant role of house-
work and child care provide little outlet. A
job, no matter how menial, offers the potential
for independence from the nuclear family, which
makes women dependent upon men for life neces-
sities. The marketplace promises limits with
its impersonality. A woman may even be hired
to be a man's individual servant, but he is
supposed to own only her services, not herself.
Even if the substance of the work is identical
to that performed in the home, she is paid in a
medium that she can control in exchange.
(MacKinnon 1979, p. 216)
Farley states that "the function of sexual harassment in non-
traditional jobs is to keep women out; its function in the traditional
female sector is to keep women down" (1978, p. 90). Working women
throughout occupations are often subject to persistent male sexual
aggression. The abuses women suffer influence employment prospects
and opportunities and reinforce female powerlessness and submission.
Rejecting sexual advances usually ends in firing or quitting. The
oversupply of female labor creates an even more insecure employment
picture. Quitting or being fired from much-needed jobs holds serious
consequences for women (Parley 1978). "Nearly two-thirds of all
women in the labor force in 1978 were single, widowed, divorced, or
separated, or had husbands whose earnings were less than $10,000"
(Women's Bureau 1979, p. 1). MacKinnon (1979) theorizes that sexual
harassment may be a contributor to unemployment, absenteeism, turn-
over, and overall job dissatisfaction in the woman's world of work.
She does not ascertain whether these rates differ by sex, but suggests
careful scrutiny of these factors.
Sexual harassment is effective primarily because women hold low
employment status. Unfortunately, it is probably that men perceive
the potential encroachment of females into the job market, and partic-
ularly into their traditionally male-dominated occupations, as a threat.
Lin Farley states four reasons men oppose females entering the labor
. that women lower their wages, that women
will take their jobs, that women belong in the
home, and that women have no business trying
to compete with men. (1978, p. 53)
In summary, sexual harassment perpetuates lower wages, lower status
jobs, and "the interlocked structure by which women have been kept sex-
ually in thrall to men. . ." (MacKinnon 1979, p. 174)
Consequences of Sexual Harassment
The literature suggests that women who are sexually harassed
suffer consequences whether they choose to complain about the abuse
or tolerate it. Victims of sexual harassment appear to react simi-
larlyto rape victims. Feelings of guilt, humiliation, anger, and
degredation are common denominators (Farley 1978; MacKinnon 1979).
Physiological responses are not uncommon, such as in the case of
Carmita Wood, a 44 year-old mother of five, was
an administrative assistant in a laboratory at
Cornell University. As her attorneys tell the
story, one of her bosses made constant sexual
gestures -- placing his hands on her buttocks,
leaning against her while she sat at the desk,
insisting that she dance with him at an office
party and shoving his hands up under her sweater
so far that her back was exposed. She began to
develop severe pains in her arms and neck that
would not respond to treatment. When she com-
plained to higher-ups, she was told that a mature
woman ought to be able to handle the situation.
Her symptoms became so severe that she left the
job; the pain disappeared. She was denied unem-
ployment because her reasons for leaving the job
were "personal." Wood has since been active with
Working Women United, the group helping her ap-
peal the decision. (Rivers 1978, p. 22)
In the Working Women United Institute's (WWUI) survey of women
who had been sexually harassed, 78 percent of the sample reported an
emotional or physical effect. Of those surveyed, 78 percent reported
feeling "angry," 23 percent "frightened," 48 percent "upset," and
7 percent "indifferent." In addition, 27 percent reported feeling
"alienated," "alone," "helpless," or other. Almost 25 percent in one
survey reported feeling "guilty" (MacKinnon 1979). A compilation of
responses further demonstrates the consequences of sexual harassment:
As I reff-nber all the sexual abuse and negative
work experience I am left feeling sick and help-
less and upset instead of angry. . Reinforced
feelings of no control -- sense of doom. . I
have difficulty dropping the emotion barrier I
work behind when I care home from work. My hus-
band turns into just another man. . Kept me
in a constant state of emotional agitation and
frustration; I drank a lot. . Soured the es-
sential delight in the work. . Stomachache,
migraines, cried every night, no appetite.
(MacKinnon 1979, p. 47)
For those waoen who wish to end the discomfort of sexual harass-
ment, their options are few and many times more severe than the ha-
rassment. A review of the literature shows some obnoxious consequen-
ces both for those who attempt to ignore the situation and for those
who complain (Farley 1978). In one survey, approximately 76 percent
of those who ignored the harassment found that the advances intensified
(MacKinnon 1979). Women are often justified in being reluctant to
report the incidents to their superiors:
Most male superiors treat it as a joke, at best
it's not serious. . Even more frightening,
the woman who speaks out against her tormnnentors
runs the risk of suddenly being seen as crazy, a
weirdo, or even worse, a loose woman. Company of-
ficials often laugh it off or consider the women
now available to themselves as well. One factory
worker reports: "I went to the personnel manager
with a complaint that two men were propositioning
me. He promised to take immediate action. When
I got up to leave, he grabbed my breast and said,
'Be nice to me and I'll take care of you.' "
(In MacKinnon 1979, p. 49)
Ms. Farley's (1978) book is an anthology of interviews with a
common thread of devastating consequences for most of the women in-
volved. The consequences for women reporting abuses to superiors in-
clude transfer, demotions, salary cuts, and job losses, to mention but
a few. All other literature reviewed exposes the same results; that
until recently, most women had little recourse but to quit their jobs.
Leaving a job because of sexual harassment usually promises a poor
letter of recommendation for future employment. As mentioned pre-
viously, sane states are providing unemployment compensation for
people who leave jobs because of sexual harassment. For those women
who have chosen to file complaints under Title VII legislation, the
results have generally been favorable.
Sexual harassment is a problem that is broad in scope. Until
1976, when Working Women United coined the term "sexual harassment,"
there was no expression to describe the phenomenon (MacKinnon 1979).
If sexual harassment is both a manifestation of sex-role stereotyping
and a promoter of occupational segregation, then it can be expected
to be ubiquitous:
Sexual harassment is much too widespread to be
viewed as random rather than representative of
male mistreatment of working women. It results
in a pattern of female job loss. Sexual harass-
ment accordingly has a marked negative influence
on women's labor-market behavior. (Farley 1978,
Sexual harassment is a common occurrence throughout the world of
work. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon is being studied primarily
through the use of surveys. To date, several surveys have revealed an
approximation of the presence of these abuses. The first survey con-
cerning sexual harassment was distributed by the Women's Section of the
Human Affairs Program at Cornell University, in May of 1975. Of the
155 responses, 70 percent had personally experienced some form of sex-
ual harassment. Fifty-six percent of these reported physical harassment.
Harassment was defined as ". .any repeated and unwanted sexual com-
ments, looks, suggestions or physical contact that you find objection-
able or offensive and causes you discomfort on your job" (Farley 1978,
Over 9,000 women responded to a 1976 Redbook magazine question-
naire concerning sexual harassment. Approximately 88 percent had ex-
perienced some form of sexual harassment, and 48 percent knew of job
loss due to harassment (Alliance Against Sexual Coercion [AASC] 1979).
The Redbook survey concluded "the problem in not epidemic--it is
pandemic--an everyday, everywhere occurrence" (Rivers 1978, p. 22).
A naval officer used the Redbook questionnaire on a sample of women
on a naval base and in a nearby town, and 81 percent reported exper-
iencing "employment-related sexual harassment in some form" (MacKinnon
1979, p. 27).
An informal survey conducted at the United Nations of 875 women
and men demonstrated that 50 percent of the women and 31 percent of the
men either experienced or were aware of experiences of sexual harassment.
Only 1/3 of those women who experienced the abuse reported it (MacKinnon
1979). The Rape Information and Counseling Service in Springfield,
Illinois, has established a task force to survey approximately 8,000
women workers in that area. The dual purpose of the survey is to "pro-
vide insight into the manifestations and effects of sexual harassment,
and to raise the consciousness of women in this ared' (Sexuality Today.
1979, p. 3).
A House of Representatives subcommittee was established to investi-
gate sexual harassment of federally employed women ("Sexual Advances" 1979).
The chairperson of the committee, Representative James Hanley, stated
that an investigation has shown that sexual harassment is "everywhere"
in the federal government ("Sexual Advances Charged," 1979). A recent
airing of the MacNeil/Lahrer Report was devoted to the issue of sexual
. an unofficial questionnaire triggered the
official concern here in Washington over sexual
harassment. It was a survey done among employees
of one federal agency, the Department of Housing
and Urban Development. One hundred and sixty-three
women claimed pay raises at HUD hinged on sexual
favors. Thirty percent of the women said they
went along, and a majority of those were in fact
rewarded with more pay. From that basic revelation
came the Congressional subcommittee hearings.
Today was the final day of testimony, and officials
of several agencies testified. Among other things,
there was a pledge to make a fuller, more scientific
survey to determine the extent of the problem in the
federal government as a whole, and to set up training
for employees and supervisors on how to deal with it.
One of the most vexing aspects of the problem to
emerge from the hearings has been the problem of
defining what sexual harassment actually is. (Bluff
On that same television program, Eleanor Holmes Norton of the
Equal Employment Opportunity Comnission in reference to the size and
solution of the problem stated:
. it is obviously large, depending your sic
definition. I think that the courts have settled
the questions of whether it is a problem, short of
some kind of assault . they've made it clear and
defined the conduct; to be sure, you have to prove
it, but it's pretty clear that conduct short of the
extreme kind of conduct you're talking about has by
the courts already been labeled as a violation of
the statute. . I want to emphasize that we
would prefer that this problem not be dealt with in
the remedial process through the courts. I have
taken the position that I believe that there is only
one real cure for this problem, and that is to pre-
vent it . we are going to be dealing with this
problem through requiring that agencies in their af-
firmative action plans make it clear that this is a
violation of the law and delineate steps to bring it
to people's attention. We believe that if most men
realized that this was considered a violation of the
law, that the employer will in fact look upon it as
such. . (Bluff 1979).
The prevalence of sexual harassment has necessitated the forma-
tion of an organizational structure to deal with the many aspects of
the problem. The Working Women United Institute (WWUI) is a New York
city based national research center which focuses on sexual harassment
of working women. The WWUI is preparing a national survey on sexual
harassment, as well as providing information, referrals, workshops,
and legal and professional counseling. The WWUI has counseled over
600 women complaining of sexual harassment (Bluff 1979).
Several state legislatures are beginning the process of enacting
laws concerning sexual harassment in employment. In February, 1978, a
bill concerning sexual harassment became part of Wisconsin state law.
The bill prohibits sexual harassment in employment and provides for un-
employment compensation for people who quit their jobs because of sex-
ual harassment (Ms. 1978). Both New York and California have awarded
claimants unemployment compensation when they were forced to leave
their jobs because of sexual harassment (Farley 1978). In fact, law-
suits have been filed and compensation awarded for back pay and attorney's
fees in sexual harassment cases. Several cases have been filed under
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimin-
ation in employment.
Review of Title VII Cases
Approximately 37 women have filed state or federal lawsuits as-
serting that they were sexually harassed in their workplaces (Bluff
1979). In five of the cases filed under Title VII of the 1964 Civil
Rights Act, the courts did not agree that sexual harassment was sexual
discrimination under the law:
In five of the seven cases which have created the
substantive law in this area, the district courts
initially held that a claim alleging sexual harass-
ment does not state a cause of action under Title
VII. Three of the district court decisions were
reversed on appeal on three different interpreta-
tions of the statute. ("Sexual Harassment and
Title VII," 1978, pp. 1010-1011)
Sexual Harassment as Sex Discrimination
In Williams v. Saxbe, 1976, Diane Williams alleged that she was
terminated from her job with the Department of Justice because she re-
fused her superior's sexual advances. She was fired from her job in
1972 on 25 minutes notice, several days after filing a sex discrimination
complaint against her supervisor. The court found sexual harassment to
be sexual discrimination under Title VII (Seymour 1979). The rationale
for the court's ruling was briefly explained as follows:
The conduct of the plaintiff's supervisor created
an artificial barrier to employment which was
placed before one gender and not the other, despite
the fact that both genders were similarly situated.
("Sexual Harassment and Title VII," 1978, p. 1012)
The Williams' case caused a turning point in the rulings of cases
in which women allege sexual harassment at the workplace. The ruling
in the Williams' case was followed by reversals in two previous sexual
harassment cases. The reversal of the Tomkins v. Public Service Elec-
tric and Gas Company (1976) demonstrated that the company or corpora-
tion can be held liable for the actions of its supervisory personnel
unless it takes prompt action to remedy the situation. The Tomkins
case was that of a single incident of sexual harassment followed by
repercussions for Ms. Tomkins. The company took no action on the
plaintiff's complaints. The following is a brief account of the
situation as it occurred:
Adrienne Tomkins, a secretary, was invited to lunch
by her boss, ostensibly to discuss his recommendation
for her promotion. When it became apparent that work
was not going to be discussed, Tomkins said she wished
to return to work. By threats of retaliation against
her as an employee, threats of physical force, and
finally exercise of physical restraint, her boss kept
her at the bar against her will for several hours.
He expressed a desire to have sexual relations with
her, saying it was necessary to their satisfactory
working relationship. When she tried to leave, he
physically prevented her. . Her boss grabbed her
and kissed her on the mouth.
. Tonkins requested and was promised a transfer to
a comparable position. . She temporarily took an
inferior position. Over a period of months, her new
superior threatened demotions, charged that she was
incapable of holding the position, pressured her to
take a salary cut, and solicited and gathered unfavor-
able material about her and had it placed in her per-
sonnel file. She was twice put on disciplinary lay-
off without just cause and was finally terminated.
Her complaints to the company . were not investi-
gated. (MacKinnon 1979, pp. 66-70)
The seven cases decided to date hold most of their components in
common. In each case, there were explicit demands by the woman's in-
mediate supervisor for sexual relations. In each case there were alle-
gations of verbal abuse, sexual comments, reprimands, and physical force.
"Each employment situation worsened significantly after the alleged
harassment" ("Sexual Harassment and Title VII," 1978, p. 1017).
In Garber v. Saxon Business Products (1977), Ms. Garber refused
to partake in sexual relations with her supervisor and was thus re-
fused a promised raise and promotion. In 1977, the Fourth Circuit
Court of Appeals found that sexual advances by supervisory personnel
"allege an employer policy or acquiescence in practice of female em-
ployees to submit to sexual advances of their male supervisors in vio-
lation of Title VII" (MacKinnon 1979, p. 69).
In the case of Heelan v. Johns-Manville Corporation (1978), sig-
nificant strides were gained in defining the employer's responsibility
in cases of sexual harassment. This was the first case of sexual ha-
rassment to go to trial. Ms. Heelan was fired for refusing sexual re-
lations with her supervisor. The company did nothing to investigate or
rectify the situation despite Ms. Heelan's complaints. Although there
was no established procedure for complaints of sexual harassment,
Ms. Heelan confided in several co-workers and the administrative assis-
tant to the president. As a result:
After notice of the termination, she also complained
to the executive vice president, who telephoned the
perpetrator. "Consigli denied any wrongdoing and the
matter was dropped." The court in essence found the
company's investigation of the problem inadequate to
its notice of it. The depth and scope of the inquiry
conducted by the company, which amounted to asking
the perpetrator whether he did it or not, were held
insufficiently thorough to satisfy its Title VII
obligation. The judge concluded that "if the em-
ployer fails to respond to a valid complaint, it
effectively condones illegal acts." Mary Heelan
recovered damages in the form of back pay and lost
employment benefits, as well as attorneys' fees.
(MacKinnon 1979, p. 77)
It is now clear that employers have a responsibility to investi-
gate complaints of sexual harassment. The literature demonstrates that
if an employee is terminated or continually harassed for refusing to
cooperate in sexual relations with her supervisor, the employer may be
held liable, especially if there is no reporting or complaint procedure.
The employer may also be held liable if a complaint is filed and the
incident is not fully investigated. No case has found its way to the
Supreme Court. If, however, the findings of the lower courts are ulti-
mately upheld by the Supreme Court, more women are likely to bring
lawsuits against their harassers and/or employers, as the most effective
recourse to sexual harassment (Tillar 1979).
An employee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
conducted an informal survey concerning sexual harassment of federal em-
ployees and made the results public. The Subcommittee on Investigations
of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service was prompted to con-
duct an investigation into the matter. Hearings were held before the
subcommittee during October and November of 1979 (Women in Action 1980).
As a result of these hearings, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
has distributed an official policy statement to all federal agencies
and departments condemning acts of sexual harassment. It is the respon-
sibility of the OPM to insure that employees work in an environment
that is free frcm discrimination. The OPM will also be incorporating
a training module into supervisory, managerial, and personnel courses.
They will attempt to reach approximately 50,000 employees annually.
All agencies of the federal government will receive training modules
(Women in Action 1980).
Chairwoman Ruth Prokop testified before the U.S. House of Repre-
sentatives Subcomnittee on Investigations that the Merit Systems Pro-
tection Board proposes a survey of federal employees concerning sexual
harassment. The survey addresses the following issues:
The degree to which sexual harassment is oc-
curring within the Federal workplace, its mani-
festations and frequency;
Whether the victims (or perpetrators) of sexual
harassment are found in disproportionate numbers
within certain agencies, job classifications, geo-
graphic locations, racial categories, age brackets,
educational levels, grade levels, etc.;
What kinds of behavior are perceived to constitute
sexual harassment and whether the attitudes of men
and women differ in this respect;
What forms of expressed or implied leverage have
been used by harassers to reward or punish their
Whether victims of sexual harassment are unaware of
available remedies and whether they have any confi-
dence in them;
The impact of sexual harassment on its victims in
terms of job turnover, work performance, their phy-
sical or emotional condition, and their financial
or career well-being; and,
The effect of sexual harassment on the morale or
productivity of the immediate work group. (Women
in Action 1980, p. 3)
Incidents of sexual harassment can be reported through several
channels. These channels vary according to the employing agency. The
results of the survey will be used to formally define sexual harassment.
When the issue is defined, it will be used in agency evaluations.
Specific questions concerning sexual harassment will be used in in-
terviews by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with em-
ployees, supervisors, and managers (Women in Action 1980).
Recent developments. The Center for the Studies of Women in
Educational Managenent Systems is presently conducting a study of
women professionals in the higher education system of Florida. The
. is being conducted to assess the nature and
potential career implications of socio-sexual
interactions between professional men and women
in the State of Florida. (Myers 1980, p. 1)
The Pentagon has found it necessary to issue orders to commanders
of the Arnned Forces because of sexual harassment complaints. The policy
states that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and that offenders
should be "swiftly and fairly" disciplined (Boodman 1980).
The literature review up to this point demonstrates that occupa-
tional stereotypes, occupational segregation, and vertical stratifi-
cation are manifestations of sex-role stereotyping. The institution
of higher education is not immune from such discriminatory attitudes
and behaviors (Epstein 1970; Feldman 1974; Coment 1979).
Sexism is defined by the Office of Education, Health, and Welfare
The collection of attitudes, beliefs, and be-
haviors which result from the assumption that
one sex is superior. (Federal Register 1975,
Inherent in this definition is the assumption that people of the
same sex have predictable interests and abilities. The definition
continues to explain:
In the context of schools, the term refers to
the collection of structures, policies, prac-
tices, and activities that overtly or covertly
prescribe the development of girls and boys and
prepare them for traditional sex-roles. (Federal
Register 1975, No. 155)
An extensive study by Feldran conducted for the Carnegie Connission
on Higher Education in 1973 reinforces the assumption that sexism exists
in the institution of higher education. This report focuses on the in-
equities facing women faculty and female graduate students. In addition
to the underrepresentation of faculty and graduate students, the
Commission's report investigates discriminatory attitudes toward women.
Feldman's report acknowledges that sexism exists in the college
A recurring theme is that many of the difficulties
that academic women face may be largely the result
of a tradition of antifemale discriminatory be-
havior within academia.
Antifemale attitudes are evident in subtle as well
as unsubtle ways. (1974, p. 9)
As is the case in the world of work, academic disciplines are
viewed as masculine or feminine:
We thus see an occupational sorting pattern that is
strongly sex-related. This is true not only in the
occupation system but within higher education as
well. Obviously, the two are related, but there has
been little systematic or empirical study of the
characteristics of "masculine" or "feminine" academic
disciplines. The education of women in America has
been marked by a tradition that certain disciplines
are more proper for women than others. (Feldman 1974,
The Carnegie Cnnmission' s study did not determine a causal rela-
tionship between the gender students perceive appropriate and the en-
rollment in various areas of study. It was determined that certain
fields are viewed as feminine and others are masculine and that under-
graduates are aware of the distinction. The undergraduate students
studied reflected perceptions that were accurate in terms of actual
female and male enrollment patterns. There was no determination or
investigation as to whether females would be reluctant to enter fields
or pursue studies in areas that are non-traditional for their sex.
Profile of Undergraduate Women Students
Bachelor's level. In 1977, women accounted for 46.2 percent of
the recipients of bachelor's degrees in the United States. Women con-
tinue to predominate fields in which they have customarily held a
majority: foreign languages, health professions, home economics,
letters, and library science. Since 1974, psychology has been pre-
dominantly a female field with 50.5 percent of the degree recipients
being female. In 1977, this percentage grew to 56.7 percent (National
Center for Educational Statistics [NCES] 1979).
Women have been making the greatest gains in fields which have
traditionally been dominated by males. Since 1971, women have shown
a decrease or no change in the numbers of degrees awarded in tradi-
tional women's fields:
In 1971, there were eight fields in which women
accounted for less than 20 percent of the bachelor's
degrees awarded. These were: agriculture and na-
tural resources, architecture and environmental
design, business and management, computer and infor-
mation sciences, engineering, law, military science,
and physical sciences. In 1977, the women's per-
centages had risen to above 20 for all except two
of these fields. The exceptions were engineering
and military science. (NCES 1979, pp. 3, 5).
Education is the most popular field for women. However, in 1971,
education accounted for 36 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded
to women, while in 1977 it accounted for only 25 percent (NCES 1979).
In contrast to the field of education, women in the field of engineering
comprised about 11 percent of the Fall 1977 entering class (NCES 1979).
The six top ranking fields for wanen accounted for about 79 per-
cent of women' degrees in 1971, and 67 percent in 1977. This trend
indicates a diversification in the degree fields being pursued by
women. The corresponding figure for men in 1977 was 66.5 percent.
This demonstrates that "men and women are essentially equal with re-
gard to their diversification across fields of study" (NCES 1979, p. 6).
Master's level. Women as graduate students on the master's level
comprise a majority in most major areas of study. Women master's de-
gree recipients in 1971 were predominant in six fields: education,
foreign languages, health professions, home economics, letters, and
library science. In 1977, women still received the majority of
master's degrees in those six fields plus fine and applied arts
All of these fields have traditionally been
regarded as women's fields. With the excep-
tion of health professions, none of them would
appear to offer good prospects for employment
today. (NCES 1979, p. 11).
Women were awarded 47.1 percent of all master's degrees in 1977.
This is an increase from 40.1 percent in 1971. In fact, the percentage
of women receiving master's degrees in 1977 decreased in home econom-
ics, library science, and public affairs and services (NCES 1979).
The field of education accounted for over half of the master's degrees
awarded to women in both 1971 and 1977. "Thus, women are still highly
concentrated in the education field in spite of a relatively poor job
market for teachers" (NCES 1979, p. 12)
Doctoral level. Women were awarded 14.3 percent of all doctoral
degrees in 1971 and 24.3 percent of all doctoral degrees in 1977.
This may be misleading in that there was a decrease in the actual
number of doctoral degrees awarded to women. In 1971, 27,534 doctoral
degrees were awarded to women, whereas in 1977, only 25,150 doctoral
degrees were awarded to women (NCES 1979). Although women represent
about 25 percent of the doctoral degree recipients, they account for
about half of all bachelor's and master's degree recipients. Further
investigation into the data demonstrates that women are making gains
in awards of doctoral degrees primarily in women's fields:
The 1971 data indicate that women predominated in
only one field: home economics, where they accounted
for 61 percent of the doctoral degrees. The 1977
data show the women predominating in three fields:
foreign languages (51.5 percent); home economics
(77.0 percent); and library science (53.3 percent).
All of these are generally regarded as women's
fields and, it might be noted, these are very small
fields in terms of number of degrees awarded. The
three fields together accounted for only 987 doc-
toral degrees in 1977 (men and women combined), out
of a grand total of 33,244 degrees. (NCES 1979,
In terms of percentage representation, women are making their
greatest gains in fields which are traditionally women's fields. In
contrast to the bachelor's and master's levels, women at the doctoral
level are making the smallest gains in non-traditional fields.
It may be conjectured that the complex sociocultural
forces which are influencing women to enter nontra-
ditional fields of study have not been operating
long enough to be manifest at the highest degree
levels. If this is so, then the trends already ob-
served at the bachelor's and master's degree levels
may soon be evident at the doctoral degree level.
(NCES 1979, p. 17)
Once again, education remains the most popular field for both men
and women degree recipients. Education accounted for 1/3 of all women's
doctoral degrees in 1977. Psychology was the second most popular field
for women, accounting for 12.2 percent of the doctoral degrees awarded
to wcmen. Letters (10.4 percent) and social sciences (10.3 percent)
were the only other fields accounting for more than 10 percent of women
doctorates (NCES 1979). Approximately 80 percent of all doctoral de-
grees awarded to women were in the same six fields as the master's
degrees: education, psychology, letters, social sciences, biological
sciences, and foreign languages (NCES 1979).
First Professional Degree Level
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) defines the
first professional degree as a degree which meets the following criteria:
(1) it signifies completion of the academic re-
quirements to begin practice in the profession;
(2) it is based on a program which requires at
least two years of college work prior to entrance;
and (3) a total of at least 6 academic years of
college work is required to complete the degree
program, including prior required college work
plus the length of the professional curriculum
itself. (1979, p. 17)
The data demonstrates modest gains in representation of women
among first professional degree recipients from 1971 to 1977. Women
are most highly represented in pharmacy (27.5 percent); veterinary
medicine (22.8 percent); law (22.5 percent); and medicine (19.2 per-
cent). Women remain a noticeable minority in all of the professional
fields (NCES 1979).
Women's largest gains were in the professional fields of veteri-
nary medicine where they increased by 15 percent and medicine where
they increased the number of degrees by 10 percent from 1972 to 1977.
Law is the most popular professional degree, accounting for 63.9 per-
cent of all women's first professional degrees in 1977. Although
medicine is the second most popular degree for women, there was a 12
percent decline in the number of degrees awarded to women from 1971
to 1977. The top three professional degrees for both sexes are law,
medicine, and theology:
Law and medicine account for 71.4 percent of the
men's first professional degrees. The corres-
ponding value for women was 85.3 percent. Thus,
it appears that men are somewhat more diversified
than women in the choice of field of professional
training. (NCES 1979, p. 24)
A Profile of Professional Women in Academia
Occupational segregation and stereotyping are realities in every
occupation and profession in America (Epstein 1970). Education is a
traditional profession for women at the elementary and secondary levels.
However, careers in higher education are non-traditional for women.
Higher education is a male-dominated community where discrimination of
academic women remains predominant. In fact, women faculty have yet
to attain equity in salaries, in ranks, in tenure status, and in rep-
resentation in the university community (Clark 1977; Feldman 1974;
Smith and Borgers 1974; Canment 1979). In 1973, female university in-
structors earned $3,458 less than the national average of male instruc-
tors (Smith and Borgers 1974). Anti-discrimination legislation and af-
firmative action policies do not appear to be factors causing great
strides towards equality for women faculty in higher education:
In 1879 and 1939, women held 40 percent and 30
percent of faculty jobs respectively; in 1974 women
represented only 18-20 percent. . Even these
statistics do not reflect the instability of many
female appointments that are part-time, temporary,
or non-tenure tract. Two-thirds of male faculty
are tenured, whereas only one-third of female fac-
ulty have acquired that status or security. . .
(Clark 1977, p. 107)
In 1974, only 12 percent of all female faculty in American univer-
sities were full professors. The greatest percentage of women were
ranked as assistant professors (35%). Almost 68 percent held the rank
of assistant professor, instructor, or lecturer (Clark 1977). Progress
for women in higher education has occurred at a less than desirable
Employment of women in higher education has grown
slowly over the 1970's, as college enrollments be-
gan to level off, but women's progress up the aca-
demic ladder still lags far behind that of men.
For example, among academically employed Ph.D.'s
between 1970 and 1974, 4.4% of the men, but only
2% of the women had reached the rank of professor.
Among men, 29.5% are associate professors, but less
than 18% of the women have reached this rank. At
the bottom of the academic ladder, only 10.8% of
the men who earned their Ph.D. in those five years
are instructors or lecturers, but 18.2% of the women
still hold this non-tenure rank. ("Progress In Pro-
fessional Labor Force Is Mixed Bag," 1978/79, pp.
Attitudes Affecting Waomen in Academia
Academic women also experience a form of discrimination in the
social network of the higher education institution. Women are often
excluded from informal informational networks, such as luncheons, after
hours socials, cnomittees, and research projects (Clark 1977). Exclu-
sion from such networks is difficult to measure, however the literature,
though lacking empirical evidence of this form of sexism, states its
existence (Simon, Clark, and Galway 1967).
In a 1977 conference on Women in Scientific Research, women met to
discuss barriers and obstacles to obtaining their degrees and beginning
their professional careers. These women testified that in order to
attain the respect and recognition for their achievements they must "do
better" than their male colleagues because they "are not taken seriously."
In addition, they stated that affirmative action programs have not
eliminated the barriers of discriminatory college admissions and re-
cruitment policies in hiring. A sample of 60 males was matched to the
60 females at the conference for educational background and experience.
These 120 people completed questionnaires concerning their observations
of the treatment of wamen in higher education. The observations included
distinct differences in the way women were treated in regard to the
"mentor" system, role models, and the general feeling of inequality with
their male colleagues (Science News 1977). The professional women in
this study also cited these specific barriers to equality:
. difficulties in gaining tenure because of the
"men's club" ambience in science departments, which
works to exclude women on the basis that they are
less-qualified newcomers to the research community.
This attitude also seems to carry over to the "same
old boys" who referee journal articles (read them
to see if their research content warrants publica-
tion) and who referee grant proposals to funding
institutions. . (Science News 1977, p. 279)
A recent study by Theodore (1979) investigated the lack of prog-
ress in overcoming sex discrimination in the last decade. She based
her conclusions on 65 case studies and over 500 responses to a ques-
tionnaire concerning discrimination in higher education. Theodore
found that wide differences exist in salaries of male and female faculty
members and that women remain clustered in the bottom ranks in non-
track tenured positions. She concluded that 1979 is no different than
1970 with respect to fighting sex discrimination (Ccamrent 1979).
Theodore's investigation into the lack of success of women's protests
and challenges of their institutions on the grounds of sex discrimin-
ation paints a sordid picture:
. the women are treated as criminals, and they
take incredible risks with their careers. Even
after their cases are resolved, whether favorably
or unfavorably, they may find themselves black-
listed. . Regardless of whether or not the
women tried to work within the system, enlisted
the help of state and federal compliance agencies,
or sought redress through the courts, they found
strong resistance by administrators who lied, de-
ceived, stalled, concealed evidence, and distorted
facts; who manipulated and divided people; who
changed the rules without accountability to appro-
priate faculty bodies; who punished, harassed, and
otherwise tried to get rid of protesting women
through such measures as tampering with files,
writing negative recommendations, demeaning and de-
moting women, and even punishing their husbands.
(Comment 1979, p. 7)
In response to the issues expressed in Theodore's presentation, a
representative of the American Council on Education noted that equality
for women is frustrated by the structure of the higher education commu-
nity. "So much of academic life is based on tradition, which, in most
cases, is male-oriented and male-dominated" (Cocnent 1979, p. 7).
Professional Women's Aspirations
In a Carnegie Coanission study, the data revealed that females
who aspire to university careers, as opposed to junior college teaching,
are more qualified than their male counterparts. Those women who are
not more qualified than males, aspire to junior college teaching. Men
aspire to university careers regardless of their qualifications
(Feldman 1974). The same study indicated that:
Women who teach within higher education are less
likely to aspire toward (and end up in) the more
prestigious academic positions, although these
lower aspirations do not appear to be based on
inability or the lack of prerequisites. (Feldman
1974, p. 157)
Women in Administration
Women are noticeably missing from the administrative positions in
. academic women constitute a different popu-
lation, statistically speaking, from academic men.
In the work of academic women, career patterns de-
velop along different lines. Women tend to serve
in institutions which emphasize different functions,
and they themselves are attracted to different
kinds of functions. Further, they tend to be
in areas which are not in strategic positions
in the academic market place and which are not
as productive as the areas that attract men.
(J. Bernard in Barnett and Baruch 1978, p. 15)
The Florida Education Directory for 1978-79 demonstrates the
under-representation of women in administrative positions in higher
education. In the public community colleges in the State of Florida,
14 percent of the administrators are female; in the state university
system, 14 percent of the administrators are women; in the private
accredited colleges, 13 percent of the administrators are women. In
the entire system of postsecondary education, private and public,
there is one female president, three vice presidents, and 20 deans
Attitudes Toward Female Graduate Students
Feldman's findings in reference to female graduate students demon-
strates that professors in male-dominated fields are viewed as taking
women less seriously. Women were more sensitive to a professor's
attitudes towards them and could be expected to report that professors
"don't take female students seriously." This assumption was borne out
by the finding that 50 percent of the females in political science and
sociology agreed with this item and only 20 percent of the male stu-
dents agreed (Feldman 1974, p. 69).
In response to an item concerned with the beliefs of the dedication
of female graduate students, approximately 25 percent of the faculty and
graduate students agreed that female graduate students were less dedi-
cated than males. Females were less likely to agree with this item;
however, male faculty and graduate students tended to agree. This
finding demonstrates that this attitude is cmcanon regardless of gener-
ational differences (Feldman 1974). Women students in male-dominated
fields are perceived as less dedicated than male students:
The overall percentage of those who agree that
females are not as dedicated is a good predictor
of the feminine enrollment in a field. In general,
fields in which all incumbents view females as not
as dedicated are male-dominated or have a mascu-
line imagery. Where women are a minority, there
is usually more prejudice against them. (Feldman
1974, p. 71)
Faculty may tend to establish apprentice-like relationships with
fewer female students if they perceive these students as less dedi-
cated than their male peers. Relationships with professors in some
fields of study are an important factor in a graduate student's aca-
From the standpoint of professional socialization,
it is advantageous for graduate students to have
a collegial or an apprenticeship relationship with
their major professors. A close working relation-
ship with a professor should facilitate research
and aid the building of a professional self-image . .
But women are much less likely to have the benefits
of a close working relationship. (Feldman 1974,
The Carnegie Cannommission study explores the positive academic ef-
fects that a close relationship with a professor provides for students.
Of those students in a close apprentice-like collegial relationship
with a professor, approximately 44 percent of the male and 42 percent
of the female students had published an article. This is in contrast
to students who had an employer-employee or no-contact relationship
with a professor. Only 24 percent of the female students in this type
of relationship had published (Feldman 1974).
Close relationships with professors appeared to lessen female
students' insecurity. Approximately 20 percent of the females with a
close relationship to a professor felt that inability may cause them
to drop out of graduate school. However, 35 percent of the females
with an employee, student, or no-contact relationship felt that their
inability may cause them to drop out of graduate school. Although
female students generally had higher GPA's in undergraduate and grad-
uate school, fewer women than men were inclined to rate themselves as
the best students in their department. Females also tended to view
themselves as students rather than scholars or scientists. Males were
inclined to view themselves as scholars or scientists (Feldman 1974).
Women students attitudes towards themselves may have had an effect on
how they were perceived by others:
Even if they are equal in ability, women may fail
to obtain the rewards that men obtain simply because
they lack the same dedication. If women are for
some reason perceived as less dedicated, however,
and therefore are treated as such, they may well
lower their academic commitment. Assuming a lower
level of commitment, faculty members may pay less
attention to their female students, who then be-
come less successful. The prophecy becomes self-
fulfilling. (Feldman 1974, p. 12)
Attitudes Toward Women Pursuing Non-Traditional Fields of Study
Observations of the Carnegie Conmnission study included the
We have previously demonstrated that male-dominated
fields are the most likely to appear antifemale.
Logic might dictate that women would be best off in
fields that they numerically dominate. This proves
not to be the case. In female-majority fields, men
have higher aspirations than women and are less
affected by career choice factors. In female-dom-
inated fields, the men, not the wcmen, are the most
visible. And since tradition accords the better
jobs to men, they can aspire toward and end up in
the better positions. (Feldman 1974, pp. 79-80)
A Stanford University study focused on the problems facing women
students in the schools of law, medicine, and business. Women who
used the counseling services expressed concerns that they felt emanated
from a male-dominated, unsupportive, academic environment. These con-
cerns prompted further study. A questionnaire was sent to women in the
professional schools of law, medicine, and business. The focus of the
study was to identify problems facing women in these fields. Female
students felt concern over the lack of support by faculty, lack of role
models, exclusion from the "old boy network," and experiences of iso-
lation from their male-dominated peer group (Kaplan and Pao 1977).
A study of Cornell University engineering students demonstrated
that 2/3 of the female students who transferred out of the department
did so because they felt "restricted by the curriculum and atmosphere
of the school." This study also suggested that there was no significant
difference in academic achievement or in the total attrition rate of
male and female students (Gardner 1976, p. 237). In contrast, a study
of female engineering students at Minnesota's Institute of Technology
(IT), showed different attrition rates. In this study, the academic
achievement level of female engineering students accounted for about
40 percent of the attrition rate. The attrition rate for females at
IT was 66 percent compared to 27 percent at Cornell (Davis 1975 in
Gardner 1976). Gardner (1976) stated that the differences in attri-
tion rates between the two schools appears to have been a function of
support. Davis (1975) also implied that support from a significant
source was an important factor effecting the success of female stu-
dents. Support at Cornell was in the form of discussion groups,
special laboratory courses, and pairing of wanen in the dormitories
In Cartwright's (1972) study of female medical students, she found
that "encouragement from others" was the most frequently mentioned mo-
tive for attending medical school. Women in medicine did not appear
to receive encouragement once they were in medical school. A recent
report by Bourne (1978) suggested that women students appeared to be
classified into two groups by the males in their environment. Either
they were defined as "sexual" or "asexual/professional." Bourne pro-
vided the following examples of behaviors exhibited by males towards
their female peers:
1. He expresses disbelief that such an attractive
woman could be doing this kind of work. Trans-
lation: she is getting high marks on looks at
the outset and thus has a lot to lose if she
doesn't play the game.
2. He shows dismay that she will not be able to do
the work. Translation: he will think her tough
and unfeminine if she proves to be able to do the work.
3. He tells her and others, when she can overhear,
that she is only doing well because men are doing
special favors for her because of her looks.
This makes her think maybe she wouldn't be doing
as well if men stopped defining her as sexy. It
also makes her feel that maybe there is not much
point in becoming a star doctor because nobody
would believe her anyway.
4. He calls attention to her sex and the sexual
aspect of the relationship frequently, often in
a teasing way. Translation: remember why I am
paying attention to you.
5. He tries to make it with her. This settles the
ambiguity once and for all. Consent puts her
clearly in the female/sexy category. Refusal
proves she is cold and unyielding and, thus,
asexual. (Comment 1978, p. 1)
Shapiro (1978) of the Harvard Medical School published "A Survival
Guide" for victims of "nonactionable sex discrimination." The one-page
chart addresses various categories of discrimination which are compo-
nents of what is now defined as sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment of Female Students
Sexual harassment of students by instructors includes various be-
haviors that can be best described on a continuum. On one end of the
continuum there exist subtleties. These are seemingly the least harmful
both psychologically and physically, yet possibly the most pervasive.
Sexist jokes and/or derogatory remarks about women as a group are
hurtful and place limitations on women as would any stereotype (Benson
and Thomson 1979).
To date, the only study conducted concerning sexual harassment of
students on campus was directed by Benson in 1977 at the University of
California, Berkeley (Benson and Thomson 1979). The purpose of the
study was to obtain information regarding students' perceptions of the
seriousness of the problem of sexual harassment. In addition, the
study was conducted to gain insight into the general extent of the
problem on the Berkeley campus. Approximately 1/3 of the 269 respon-
dents reported knowing someone who was sexually harassed. About 20
percent of the respondents indicated that they themselves had been
sexually harassed by at least one professor. Seventy-three percent of
the respondents reported that they considered sexual harassment either
a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. Those students with
personal experience or awareness of an incident of harassment tended
to perceive that it occurred frequently.
Benson conducted interviews with 50 of the women who reported
sexual harassment. The most frequently occurring abuses reported were
sexual overtures, comments concerning physical appearance, inappropriate
physical contact, and general expressions of sexual interest toward the
student. Explicit propositions offering academic reward in return for
sexual "favors" were indicated by sane of the women interviewed. It
was also indicated that punishment was a possible consequence of non-
compliance. In still fewer cases, there were instances of overt physi-
I needed help with an assignment so I went to
the professor's office hours. He was staring
at my breasts. . It made me uncomfortable
and confused. . He reached over, unbuttoned
my blouse and started fondling my breasts. . .
(Benson and Thomson 1979, p. 11)
However, this type of abuse was atypical, in that most professors
approached the students in a more gradual way with less of a demand for
immediate sexual obligation. In fact, one faculty member responding to
the original survey reported that sane of his colleagues use false
praises of women students' work to render them vulnerable to sexual
advances in the future (Benson and Thomson 1979).
Pope, Levenson, and Schover (1979) conducted a study regarding
sexual activity and graduate education in psychology. The researchers
mailed 1,000 questionnaires to the American Psychological Association,
Division 29 (psychotherapy) members. Respondents were asked whether
they had experienced sexual contact with psychology department teachers,
clinical supervisors, and/or administrators. In addition, they were
asked whether, as teachers, clinical supervisors, and/or administrators,
they had sexual contact with their students. Sexual contact was defined
as intercourse or genital stimulation. The respondents were asked if
they believed such sexual contact was beneficial to the parties involved.
The results of this study indicated that there was a greater likelihood
of experiencing sexual contact with an educator while earning a degree,
if the degree was earned within the last six years. Approximately 25
percent of the female respondents who earned their degrees in the last
six years experienced sex with their educators. Seventy-five percent
of those females who had sex as a student did so with a teacher and 47
percent had done so with clinical supervisors. Females reported sig-
nificantly more sexual contact as students while males reported greater
incidence of sexual contact as psychologists with their students and
clients. 'Twelve percent of the psychology teachers, four percent of the
supervisors, and three percent of the administrators reported sexual con-
tact with their students" (Pope et al. 1979, p. 687). Only two percent
of the respondents believed that such contact was beneficial to either
or both parties (Pope et al. 1979).
In summary, the research suggested that sexual contact occurred
between a substantial number of male educators and female students.
Respondents did not feel that the experience was beneficial for either
party; yet the study did suggest that this behavior was rapidly in-
creasing. The authors called for research into "the incidence of
student-teacher sexual contact in undergraduate education or the grad-
uate programs of other academic disciplines" (Pope et al. 1979, p. 687).
They expressed the belief that the tendency for sexual activity to
occur between male educators and female students may be a result of dis-
crimination. The ratio of male to female faculty in a typical pro-
fessional program was nine to one, and therefore, female students would
be in a higher risk situation than their male counterparts. Finally,
the authors concluded:
Psychologists can scarcely afford continuing their
selective inattention to these issues. The subject
of sexual contact between educators and students
should be brought out of the closet and aired in
free, open-minded, and serious discussion. Because
the profession, though tending to hold an idealized
view of itself, is forced to recruit its members
from the human race, these discussions will likely
be characterized not only by informed wisdom and
altruism, but also by anxiety, conflicts, and
occasional low self-disclosure. . Given the
profession's public silence toward the issues thus
far, it may be reasonable to assume that many psy-
chologists find it difficult to acknowledge their
attraction to or eagerness of sexual relations with
their students, let alone that they have considered
acting or have already acted on this attraction or
eagerness. (Pope et al. 1979, p. 688)
It should be noted that the above-mentioned study does not address
the issue of sexual harassment per se, it does however, imply that
student-teacher sexual contact is somewhat analagous to doctor-patient
sex, and that is unethical. Dr. Pope, senior author of the study of
psychology students and educators, comments on the findings of his
For a professor to have an affair with a student
is unethical because the teacher's job is to eval-
uate the student's academic performance. It would
make no difference who initiates the relationship.
("Survey Lends Sex, Psych Profs," 1979)
Provost Miller of Stanford University states:
Individuals who might otherwise be regarded as free
to consent may feel psychologically coerced. Just
because individuals can say "yes" or "no" doesn't
mean that they do not feel pressure. (Stanford Uni-
versity News Service 1978, p. 1)
Prevalence of Sexual Harassment of Women Students
The University of Miami indicates that 40 percent of its women
students have encountered some form of sexual harassment on campus (Miami
Herald 1978). This issue provoked the following statement of adminis-
trative policy by President Henry King Stanford:
There is evidence that UM women encounter-some-
times in classrooms and sometimes in offices--
derogatory and dehumanizing remarks about women.
Whether or not such remarks are thoughtless or
deliberate, women have, nevertheless, found them
degrading. Therefore, your thoughtful attention
to this matter is requested.
Some of the remarks UM women complain about are
directed at individual women, who are singled out
because of their age, sex, physical attributes,
or interest in women's rights issues. Other re-
marks are directed at women in general and express
contempt for women and stereotyped assumptions
about women's abilities and ambitions.
Such remarks will not be condoned by the adminis-
tration. I am asking women students to bring com-
plaints of remarks which they find offensive to the
attention of appropriate deans. Women employees
are asked to bring such complaints to the attention
of the appropriate administrative head of the area
in which they work. (Veritas 1978, p. 1)
There is a dearth of information in the literature that demon-
strates the frequency of occurrence of incidents of sexual harassment.
Most of the information concerning sexual harassment of female stu-
dents can be found in campus newspapers:
I'll bet there's at least one professor playing
around in each department, said a nine year mem-
ber of the University of Florida faculty. Most
of them don't try to hide it. For some, it's a
kind of competition, like mounted heads. (Julin
1979, p. 10)
A sociology professor at Yale agrees:
I don't know of a single department where at least
one faculty member hasn't occasionally slept with a
student, but the same problem exists at every
university I know of. ("Bod And Man At Yale," 1977,
Anne Simon, a Yale Law School alumna, is the attorney for the first
lawsuit involving sexual harassment of students at Yale. She estimates
that about 75 incidents of sexual harassment occur at Yale each semester
("Bod And Man At Yale," 1977).
The limited literature available demonstrates a contradiction of
opinion. Top level administrators appear to diminish the frequency of
sexual harassment incidents. Counselors, psychologists, and women's
studies departments state that the problem is extensive:
Women's Studies director at Florida State Univer-
sity says sexual harassment is pervasive. Sexual
complaints have been lodged with the Office of
Women's Studies regarding the behavior of male
faculty and graduate assistants who use their
position for sexual harassment.
The degree of harassment varies. It can be very
subtle, like a professor asking a student out re-
peatedly or a graduate assistant being negative
about whether or not a woman should be studying
in a particular discipline. (Raulerson 1979, p.1)
At the same University, the Vice President for Academic Affairs
stated that, "sexual advances to students by teachers are 'very rare'"
(Raulerson 1979, p. 1). Perhaps the reason for these contradictions
is based on inadequate reporting procedures and the overwhelming pos-
sible consequences for the victims. In addition, the lack of publicity
and research hinder understanding the extent and resolution of the
problem (Stanford University News Service 1978).
In 1973, a senior at a California state university testified be-
fore the legislature that she knew of "at least 15 professors who of-
fered students A's for sex" (Project on the Status and Education of
Women 1978, p. 3). At a recent conference of the Association for Women
in Science, a substantial number of women (all recent Ph.D. recipients)
reported that they had been sexually harassed by men in a position to
affect their academic and professional careers. None of these women
had discussed this issue publicly before ("Still Many Barriers To
Women In Science," 1977). The Benson and Thomson (1979) study demnn-
strated that although 20 percent of their sample experienced some form
of sexual harassment, they were confused about how to deal with the
Consequences of Sexual Harasanent
Sexual harassment is an issue of power. The power inherent in the
student-teacher relationship is obvious:
A college professor wields considerable influence
over a student's academic success and future career.
A teacher's assessment of a student may in a very
real sense affect her "life's chances." Students
depend upon their professors for grades, recoamen-
dations, job referrals, and research-related oppor-
tunities. Graduate students, in addition, rely on
their professors for opportunities to attend
special seminars and conferences and to co-author
research papers, for introductions to colleagues
in the field, for sponsorship in informal and
formal academic societies and professional associ-
ations, and for recommendations for grants,
fellowships, and faculty appointments. (Project
on the Status and Education of Women 1978, p. 3)
Oftentimes the consequences of sexual harassment by instructors
becomes so severe that students choose to change their course of study,
withdraw from school completely, or remain in school under immense emo-
tional and psychological pressure (Project on the Status and Education
of Women 1978, p. 3). Among several reasons that Juanita Kreps cited
for high attrition rates of female graduate students were lack of dedi-
cation and lack of interest (Kreps 1971, p. 51). In contrast, Lin
It is time we recognize that what has been judged
female disinterest or lack of dedication is often
the effect of sexual harassment. Sexual abuse is,
in fact, so widespread in higher education that
school administrators should have made this con-
nection some time ago. (1978, p. 70)
Many women feel that the only way to "save both autonomy and career,"
is to leave school. Oftentimes this decision is impulsive and made with-
out adequate preparation. The pressure of explicit sexual demands and
"accumulated sexually harassing experiences," may cause a woman to make
"life-changing decisions" (Farley 1978, p. 74) For example:
A female cadet at West Point resigned from the mili-
tary academy in 1977 after charging her male squad
leader with improper sexual advances. The Academy
dismissed her charges when the squad leader denied
any wrongdoing. (Project on the Status and Education
of Women 1978, p. 2)
Psychologists agree the educational experience may become anxiety-
producing and uncomfortable in a normal classroom. The students'
learning ability may be impaired. Those who complain risk "grief, in-
timidation, and threats." Sexual harassment takes an anotional toll.
"The overwhelming feeling is that of helplessness" (Julin 1979, p. 10).
Other reported symptoms of women who were sexually harassed range from
insomnia and headaches to diminished ambition and depression (Project
on the Status and Education of Wonen 1978). One university psychologist
. the helplessness a victim of sexual harassment
may feel can cause a great psychological damage.
The helpless feeling is most detrimental. (Julin
1979, p. 10)
The severity of the possible consequences that face a student who
reports sexual harassment are overwhelming. One University of Florida
graduate female flatly rejected the propositions of a department head.
She felt reporting the situation would be futile. "There's nobody
higher than him unless you get into the top brass; I don't know what it
would accomplish. He's too secure in his position." Months later, the
graduate student was still fearful that this department head would have
a negative affect on her career. After she interviewed for a job, he
(the department head) had lunch with her potential employer (Julin 1979,
In addition to the physical and emotional consequences of rejecting
or reporting sexual harassment is the very real consequence that affects
academic advancement. Embarrassing and denigrating remarks aimed at
certain women students from rejected professors, lowered grades, se-
vere criticism of coursework, and hard to find letters of recomnenda-
tion, are sane of the consequences of not cooperating with an instruc-
tor's whims (Project on the Status and Education of Womanen 1978, p. 3).
A University of Florida counseling psychologist explained:
The complaints have been going on for many,
many years. I have heard women say they were
graded down a full grade for rejecting a pro-
fessor (Julin 1979, p. 10)
Various forms of behavior exist within the parameters of the sexual
harassment continuum. The effects of the subtle and blatant forms of
harassment have not been measured. These effects are likely to be de-
pendent upon the individual, and her perception of the severity of the
situation. One professor, who was accused of sexual harassment of sev-
eral female students stated: ". .you can take my word for it, it was
not a situation where anybody was in any danger or fear" (Florida State
University Flambeau 1979, p. 1). After several complaints about this
professor, the head of the Florida State University graduate program in
theater directing, he resigned. It should be noted that when a com-
plaint was lodged two years previously against this same professor, the
student was assured that the professor would not be allowed to return to
Florida State University. He did return and he assumed the position
that he left. He also continued to victimize his female students:
When he was alone with the women, usually in his
office, he would back them into a corner or against
the wall, and put his hand in their mouth to keep
them quiet. Then he would rub his body against
them. (Florida State University Flambeau 1979,
This example certainly is not rape, nor it is subtle sexual harass-
ment. The situation falls somewhere within the parameters of the sexual
harassment continuum. Although the professor maintained that these
w men had nothing to fear and were not in any danger, it appears that he
certainly violated their personal space. It also appears that this type
of behavior would be against the law. Obviously, university officials
did not find this a serious offense because the department head was re-
instated after the first complaint was filed, two years previously.
The Vice President for Academic Affairs felt that the situation was
"taken very seriously;" he said, ". . he knew of three women who re-
ported unwanted advances by this same professor!" (Florida State Uni-
versity Flambeau 1979, p. 1)
Cases similar to those previously mentioned appear to be numerous.
University of Florida professors and students can and do describe inci-
dent after incident of faculty members pressuring students for sexual
favors (Julin 1979). The consequences are as numerous as the incidents:
Because the male is in a position of authority,
as professor, mentor, or supervisor, a woman,
therefore, may be at great risk if she objects
to the behavior or resists the overtures. It is
this context which underlies the gravity of the
problem of sexual harassment. (Project on the
Status and Education of Women 1978, p. 2)
Anne Truax, Director of the Minnesota Women's Center said she is
aware of women students who have all of their Ph.D. coursework com-
pleted but leave the university because they cannot tolerate the sexual
harassment frcm their advisor or professor (Scanlon 1979). Truax also
reported hearing about a faculty member who is said to have raped several
women students. The students would not file complaints (Scanlon 1979).
Rape is beyond the scope of this study. However, attitudes such as the
one expressed by the Director of the University of Miami police force
are typical. ". . the cause of many rapes on campus is the promiscuity
of the female students." This type of attitude placed the female
"victim" in the position of "criminal." The violator of her being be-
comes the victim who just couldn't help himself (Winerip 1978).
Unfortunately, women adopt this attitude and begin to assume the guild
for such acts. "What did I do to cause him to do this to me?" This
is the first multitudes of questions that haunt a woman who has been
raped and harassed. A graduate student staff member working at the
Minnesota Women's Center states:
Many women have been socialized to be afraid to
talk about sex harassment. . The women feel
guilty and that they, not their harassers, are
to blame for the incident. (Scanlon 1979, p. 1)
Most of the interviews cited throughout the literature reported
that the fear of negative consequences involving their academic and pro-
fessional career is the major deterrent to women considering reporting
incidents of harassment (Project on the Status and Education of Wamen
1978). A representative of the University of Toronto Graduate Student
Union reinforced this belief. She noted that a professor was sexually
involved with seven graduate women students whose studies he super-
vised. He informed them "unofficially" that they would do well in his
courses. These women reported that they were afraid to report the
incidents because they were afraid of the academic and professional
consequences ("Canadian Graduate Students Warned," 1979).
The fears related to the consequences of sexual harassment have
kept the problem concealed. The establishment of reporting procedures
for incidents of sexual harassment would aid in determining the extent
of sexual harassment on the campus as well as publicly acknowledging
the existence of sexual harassment as a problem. A procedure that would
lessen the consequences for the victim might encourage others to trust
the university administration in the handling of such affairs.
Reporting Incidents of Sexual Harassment
Incidents of sexual harassment remain unreported for many reasons.
Too often, the consequences for reporting or rejecting sexual overtones
by a professor appear to be greater than those of submitting to the
harassment. The procedure involved in reporting an incident that is so
sensitive in nature, is often a deterrent in itself:
The administration feels that incidents of sexual
harassment of students by professors are not common.
However, there are many cases that are not reported.
In order to report an incident, the student would
have to come to an open hearing on accusations of
misconduct. The administrator comnnented 'few stu-
dents are willing to do that.' (Florida State
University Flambeau 1979, p. 19)
From this statement, it would be easy to assure that the adminis-
tration's conclusions about the frequency of incidents of sexual har-
assment at Florida State University is inaccurate. The validity lies
in the awareness that few students vwuld be willing to subject themselves
to such a hearing. A psychologist at the Florida State University Men-
tal Health Center states that:
. if a student lodges a complaint with the
University concerning a relationship with a
professor, the University generally works to
protect the faculty member against the student.
(Raulerson 1979, p. 19)
The department head of the Women's Studies department hears many
complaints of sexual harassment because "most students don't report in-
cidents of sexual harassment to anyone in a position of authority at
FSU" (Raulerson 1979, p. 19). Officials at the University of Florida
say that the ". . problem of proof coupled with the indifferent atti-
tude of UF administrators results in many complaints being handled in
a less than thorough manner" (Julin 1979, p. 11). Although the Office
of Student Services handled only four incidents of sexual harassment
during Fall and Winter quarters (1978-79), more complaints have been
made to the Counseling Center. The Vice President for Academic Affairs
at the University of Florida explained that ". . most complaints of
this type are handled by the department chairman" (University of Florida
Alligator 1979, p. 10). It appears that the University of Florida con-
siders sexual harassment a problem of middle management. Unfortunately,
there are only 12 percent female faculty, and ever fewer female adminis-
trators on any management level at the University of Florida (Klein
1979). Throughout the literature, reporting of incidents of sexual
harassment of females happens more often through female staff members
(Stanford University News Service 1978; Florida State University Flambeau
1979; University of Florida Alligator 1979; Project on the Status and
Education of Women 1978).
Several women students and one male professor initiated a lawsuit
against Yale University in 1977. The lawsuit claimed that Yale was
negligent for failing to provide a grievance procedure for victims of
sexual harassTent. Since victims are usually females, failing to have
such a procedure constitutes sexual discrimination. The case argued
that this is a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of
1972 (Nelson 1978). The courts found that one of the female plaintiffs
had justifiable cause to sue. In this case, Alexander v. Yale University,
Alexander maintained that she received a "C" grade in a course for re-
fusing a professor's proposition for sexual activity. She maintained
that the professor offered her an "A" grade in return for sexual favors,
and when she rejected his advances, he gave her the lower grade.
Alexander complained verbally and in writing to the university adminis-
tration. The university dismissed her allegations without further in-
vestigation into the matter (Nelson 1978; Miles 1979). The case did
establish that sexual harassment constitutes sexual discrimination which
is in violation of Title LX:
. it is perfectly reasonable to maintain that
academic advancement conditioned upon submission
to sexual demands constitutes sex discrimination
in education, just as questions of job retention
or promotion tied to sexual demands from super-
visors have become increasingly recognized as
potential violation of Title VII's ban against
sex discrimination in employment. (In Miles
1979, p. 14)
As mentioned earlier, part of the lawsuit against Yale University
focuses on their lack of a reporting procedure for incidents of sexual
harassment (Project on the Status and Education of Wcmen 1978). In
light of this, Dean Kaplan of Stanford University has spearheaded pro-
cedures for the creation of such a system at Stanford:
Nonrmally, students with a grievance are encouraged
to talk about it directly with the faculty member
concerned, then with the department head, and the
appropriate dean. This can be exceptionally
difficult if the professor is in a position to
wield academic power for personal favors.
Appealing to other professors isn't easy, either.
Most are reluctant to delve into the private lives
of their colleagues; those lacking tenure can find
themselves professionally threatened if they try
to do so. Those aggrieved almost universally are
women; the higher an appeal is taken, the more
likely it will become a matter between men.
If students perceive, rightly or wrongly, that
harassment simply is not dealt with as an issue
by the faculty, litigation of the Yale variety
may ultimately result. (Campus Report 1978, p. 2)
Brown, Rutgers, the University of Minnesota, and the University
of Florida have all set up informal procedures for reporting complaints
of sexual harassment. The administrative offices of Brown, Rutgers,
and the University of Florida have issued policy statements regarding
the prohibition and condemnation of such behaviors (Brown 1979; Rutgers
1979; Scanlon 1979; Julin 1979).
At the University of California at Berkeley, 29 women students
have filed a complaint with the Department of Health, Education and
Welfare on the basis of the University's neglect in establishing griev-
ance procedures (Benson and Thomson 1979). The increased reporting of
incidents in the last year has given impetus to organizing campus
groups concerned with the problem of harassment. One organization,
Women Organized Against Sexual Harassment (WOASH) at the University of
California at Berkeley, is devising a grievance procedure for incidents
of sexual harassment (Project on the Status and Education of Women 1980).
WOASH has picketed the University administration building in protest of
an alleged "cover-up" of charges of sexual harassment leveled against
a male professor (Benson and Thomson 1979). The Women's Center at the
University of Minnesota collects data on the extent of sexual harass-
ment at the university. The Center also counsels victims of harassment
and aids in filing of complaints (Scanlon 1979).
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a professor was
dismissed from San Jose State University in California for incidents
of sexual harassment. He was ". . dismissed after five women stu-
dents accused him of fondling, embracing, and making sexual proposi-
tions to them" (1080, p. 2). A second professor at Berkeley has been
suspended without pay for one quarter after harassment charges were
filed (Chronicle of Higher Education 1980).
The Federal Government is presently addressing the issue of sex-
ual harassment on the campus. The National Advisory Council of Women's
Educational Programs is a presidentially appointed body established by
Congress. The Council's responsibility is to advise and report on sex
equity in education. This Council has publicly requested information
frcn victims about their experiences of harassment. Depending upon
the scope of the problem, the Council may hold hearings on sexual
harassment. If the project's investigation finds that federal action
on the problem is necessary, they will make such a recommendation to
Congress ("Sexual Harassment Reviewed By Council," 1979).
Sexual harassment exists on the campuses of our colleges and uni-
versities. It is a threat to the academic and economic future of stu-
dents. Students cannot freely choose to accept or reject sexual ad-
vances. To report or reject incidents of sexual harassment may jeop-
ardize grades, careers, and futures. The problem and the extent of
the problem need publicity and research. Educational equity and Title
IX require that this problem no longer be hidden. "The problem of
sexual harassment will not go away, nor are there easy answers" (Project
on the Status and Education of Women 1978, p. 5).
The review of related literature demonstrates the relationship of
sex-role stereotyping to occupational and institutional sexism. The
roles of women in our society characterize women as submissive, incom-
petent, and subordinate to men. These roles are perpetuated by the
sex-stereotypic attitudes of men and women. Sexual harassment is a
component of occupational segregation and vertical stratification. It
exists in a symbiotic relationship with the outgrowths of occupational
stereotyping. As occupational stereotyping exists, it is paralleled
by stereotyping in academia. As the world of work is dominated by
males, so is the world of higher education. As specific occupations
are sex-typed, so are the academic and professional fields that are
pursued by students.
Sexual harassment of female students exists as it exists in the
world of work. The extent of this phenomenon in academia has not been
surveyed as it has in the working world. Few universities have taken
the initiative to address the problem.
The United States Government has recognized the extent of the
problem of sexual harassment of women. Congressional investigations
into harassment of wcmen in federal and state agencies, as well as the
Armed Forces are currently underway. The Federal Government is also
in the process of investigating sexual harassment on campus. The
courts have determined that sexual harassment is sex discrimination
and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In
addition, sexual harassment has been found to contribute to sexual
discrimination in education under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amend-
ments. The extent of the problem of sexual harassment on the campus
has not been researched. The Federal Government, recent research, and
the Project on the Status and Education of Wcmen of the American Associa-
tion of Colleges all express a need for such information.
The review of literature, in Chapter Two, demonstrates the gen-
eral extent of the problem of sexual harassment of women in the world
of work. In addition, it depicts the void of information concerning
the extent of the problem of sexual harassment of female students in
postsecondary education. The purpose of this study was to contribute
to the elimination of this void by providing information concerning
the extent of sexual harassment of women students on the campus.
Too, the study examined female students' attitudes and beliefs con-
cerning the occurrence of the sexual harassment phenomenon.
Description of Sample and Selection
The target population of this study was undergraduate and grad-
uate professional female students in selected state universities of
Florida. As indicated on Table 1, the three largest universities in
the State of Florida were surveyed. These schools were selected not
solely due to their size, but because they were the only schools in
the state university system that offered professional programs in
the selected professions. For the purpose of this study, profes-
sional programs were defined as advanced training programs that lead
to a degree in dentistry, education, engineering, law, medicine, or
The total population of female students in the state university
system of Florida's programs leading to degrees in dentistry, law,
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medicine, and veterinary medicine were surveyed. A total of 695
women in these non-traditional professional major areas of study,
were surveyed. All women students in the undergraduate engineering
programs at the University of Florida and the University of South
Florida were surveyed. A total of 524 surveys were mailed to these
engineering students. A systematic sample of female undergraduate
and graduate students majoring in education at Florida State Univer-
sity, the University of Florida, and the University of South Florida,
were selected and surveyed. A total of 1,200 questionnaires were mail-
ed to women students in graduate and undergraduate education programs
The rationale for sampling in the above manner was to approximate
equal sample sizes for each of the independent variables: under-
graduate (1,124), graduate (1,291), traditional professional (1,200),
and non-traditional professional (1,215). The minimum acceptable re-
turns from the sample of the total group and each individual group was
set at 25 percent (Table 1). This required a minimum of 603 surveys
to be returned from the total group. However, the desirable return
was set at 40 percent of the sample (966).
A "contact" person was designated at each university. The con-
tact person's function was to facilitate the distribution of the ques-
tionnaire by aiding in the accumulation of enrollment lists (Appendix A).
Personal contact was made with the contact person by telephone. Rep-
resentatives of the University of Florida Student Government Associa-
tion, the Society of Women in Engineering, and the women's law organ-
izations at their respective schools were contacted by telephone. The
members of these organizations functioned by supplying the researcher
with any necessary information and by aiding in informing fellow stu-
dents of the survey.
The following procedure was utilized in accumulating the data:
Phase I A sample of 600 undergraduate and 600 graduate female
students majoring in education was systematically selected from the en-
rollment lists frcm Florida State University, the University of Florida,
and the University of South Florida. A random number between one and
six was selected from a box. Every fourth, fifth, or sixth name was
selected from the list beginning with the name that matched the number
drawn from the box. The spread between each name selected was deter-
mined by dividing the desired two hundred subjects into the total number
of students on the list.
Phase II A cover letter and stamped return envelope accompanied
each questionnaire. Subjects were requested to return the questionnaire
within three weeks of the mailing date. (See Appendix B for sample
cover letter and questionnaire.) The return envelope was coded and
matched to a code number on one of the enrollment lists. This was done
to reduce the number of postcards to be sent as a follow-up to non-
Phase III -- A total of 2,415 questionnaires were mailed to a
sample of female students at the three universities. (See Table 1.)
The initial mailing began during the fourth week of the Spring quarter
1980. Due to the delay in acquiring enrollment lists from the Uni-
versity of South Florida, 731 questionnaires were not mailed until the
last week of the quarter.
Phase IV -- Three weeks after the initial mailing, a postcard was
sent to non-respondents. No follow-up mailing was conducted for the
University of South Florida sample. Data collection occurred over a
period of ten weeks. Table 1 illustrates the actual number of returns
and the percentage of returns from each professional school acquired
from both mailings.
After an extensive review of the literature, it was discovered
that there was no available measure, concerning sexual harassment, for
utilization in descriptive research. A questionnaire was developed to
assess the extent to which undergraduate and graduate students exper-
ienced various forms of sexual harassment. In addition, the question-
naire provided for the examination of the beliefs and attitudes students
hold in relationship to sexual harassment. (See Appendix C.)
The questionnaire was developed to encompass the various compo-
nents of the definition of sexual harassment. Major components of the
definition were identified from the newsletter on the Project on the
Status and Education of Women:
a. verbal sexual harassment of male and female
students: sexist jokes, remarks, sex-role
b. subtle and blatant forms of sexual harassment:
inappropriate physical contact, sexual advances,
propositioning in return for grades. (1978,
Additional questions referred to opinions regarding the reporting
of incidents of sexual harassment, students sexually harassing instruc-
tors, and a general statement about the occurrence of sexual harassment
on campus. The questionnaire was pilot-tested on four separate groups
during the Winter and Sunner quarters of 1979 at the University of
The first pilot group consisted of 18 Counselor Education graduate
students at the University of Florida. They contributed to the refine-
ment of the items and format by completing the questionnaire and offering
anonymous critiques, followed by verbal feedback. The items were then
rewritten and submitted to a review panel of five professors in the
Counselor Education Department and the Office for Student Services at
the University of Florida. The review panel was given a definition of
sexual harassment in a cover letter explaining the purpose of the
questionnaire. All panel members agreed that the questionnaire demon-
strated "face" and "content" validity. The Fry Readability Formula was
used to determine that the questionnaire was appropriate for college-
level readers (Fry 1968).
The questionnaire was then distributed to 29 undergraduate stu-
dents participating in a leadership training program conducted by the
Office for Student Services at the University of Florida during the
Winter quarter 1979. A test-retest design was utilized by adminis-
tering the identical questionnaire two weeks after the first testing
sessions. A Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient was ob-
tained for each pre- and post-test item. The correlation coefficient
for the questionnaire was found to be .81. Further investigation into
the pre- and post-test relationship utilized a T-Transformation Matrix
to demonstrate the relationships to be significant at the .001 level
An item analysis was conducted to establish construct validity and
reliability. Analysis of variance was used to provide a factor analysis.
Both the pre- and post-test factors included the same items. The post-
test factors that accounted for 50 percent of the variance in the scores
are the same factors as those on the pre-test.
The questionnaire was revised in format to include two separate
sections: attitudes and beliefs concerning sexual harassment and per-
sonal experiences of sexual harassment. The items from the original
questionnaire with an item correlation of below .4 were either reworded
The response format for Part I of the questionnaire was revised to
a four-point Likert-type scale. The "undecided" choice was eliminated
to create a forced choice and reduce the tendency toward a response
set. Part II of the questionnaire contained items assessing personal
experiences by recording "yes" or "no" responses. The Fry Readability
Formula detennrmined that the questionnaire was appropriate for college-
level readers. The review panel, once again, agreed that the question-
naire demonstrated face and content validity.
During the Sunmer quarter 1979, at the University of Florida, the
questionnaire was administered to one graduate class in the Educational
Foundations department and one undergraduate class in the Criminal Jus-
tice department. The total sample consisted of 35 students. The
questionnaire was administered using a three-week interval between pre-
and post-tests. A Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient was
obtained for each item and for the total questionnaire. The correlation
coefficient for the questionnaire was found to be .80. Once again, a
T-Transformation Matrix demonstrated that all pre- and post-test rela-
tionships were significant at the .001 level of significance.
An analysis of variance using a Principal Factor Analysis was con-
ducted to determine the reliability and construct validity. Three
factors accounted for approximately 38 percent of the total factor vari-
ance. These three factors were labeled "Attitudes and beliefs con-
cerning blatant forms of sexual harassment," "Subtle forms of sexual
harassment," and "Personal experiences of blatant forms of sexual ha-
rassment. (See Appendix B for detailed analysis.)
All statistical analyses were computed through the use of the
STATJOB System of statistical programs for use on UNIVAC 1100 series
computers. The DSTAT2 program was utilized for the correlational
analyses and the FACIOR3 program was used for the factor analyses.
The questionnaire was pilot-tested once again during Sumner quarter
1979 at the University of Florida. The questionnaire was distributed
to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in two classes in the
Behavioral Sciences Department. The data from the 70 questionnaires
were examined in terms of the percentage of agreement with each item
of the questionnaire. (See Appendix C.)
The format of the questionnaire was slightly revised. The re-
visions were made primarily in the instruction format. The question-
naire was previously accompanied by a computer answer sheet. Since the
questionnaire was distributed through the mail, the instructions were
revised. The demographic data requested in the study were:
a. date of birth c. major area of study
b. marital status d. level in school
Analysis of Data
The accumulation of data in the study yielded two primary groupings
of data: scores on the questionnaire and the demographic data. The
demographic data focused upon traditional or non-traditional fields of
study at the graduate and undergraduate levels of study. The questionnaire
responses were examined in relation to the demographic data. The first
three hypotheses were subjected to a multivariate analysis of variance
(MANOVA): (Clyde 1979)
1. There is no difference in attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment between women in the
traditional professional major area of education
and those in selected non-traditional profes-
sional major areas of study.
2. There is no difference in beliefs and attitudes
of women students among selected non-traditional
major areas of study.
3. There is no difference in attitudes and beliefs
concerning sexual harassment between graduate and
undergraduate women students.
The MANOVA was used to analyze the interactions of each independent
variable (traditional and non-traditional areas of study, and graduate
and undergraduate levels of study) upon the dependent variable. In
order to reject the null hypotheses, an F-value significant at the .05
level was required.
Log-linear analyses were used to analyze the second three hypoth-
eses of the study:
4. There is no difference between women students
in selected non-traditional professional areas
of study and the traditional professional
major area of education in the frequency of
5. There is no difference in the frequency of
sexual harassment of women students among
selected non-traditional major areas of study.
6. There is no difference between the two groups
(undergraduate women students and graduate
women students) in the frequency of occurrence
of sexual harassment.
The log-linear analysis was an analysis of frequency tables which
generated chi-square statistics. This technique was used to analyze
qualitative or categorical data fran descriptive research:
The result is the identification of the main
effects, simple interactions, and higher order
interactions that contribute to the frequency
patterns in the data being analyzed. (Milone
and Wolk 1980, p. 162)
Three-way log-linear models, which are analogous to Analysis of
Variance models, were constructed. Since multiple testing of variables
was required, a chi-square lower than .05 level of significance was
necessary in order to accept the significant difference at the .05 level.
This technique allowed for examination of the main effects and the inter-
action between harassment (yes or no) and major area of study (tradi-
tional or non-traditional), harassment and level of study (graduate or
undergraduate), and the frequency of "yes" and "no" responses.
The following hypothesis was subjected to a canonical correlation
7. There is no difference between attitudes
and beliefs of wonen students towards sexual
harassment and their experiences of sexual
This technique was used to obtain composite variables from items
in Part I and Part II of the questionnaire. It enabled exploration
into the relationship of variables in each part of the questionnaire
(attitudes/beliefs and experiences). A Pearson correlation coefficient
was obtained for composites.
The Biomedical Computer Programs P-series (BMDP-79) was utilized
for the data analyses. Clyde's MANOVA (1969) was used as the program
for the multivariate analysis of variance.
The following limitations of this study are noted:
1. The generalizability of this study is limited
to female students, in selected professional
programs within the state university system of
2. Implicit in the design of a survey by mail is
that the response rate may be a function of
"yes" or "no" responses from people with a par-
3. Approximately one-third of the mailing occurred
during the last week of the quarter, thus limiting
the numbers of students who actually received and
returned the questionnaires.
This study was designed to investigate the attitudes, beliefs,
and experiences concerning sexual harassment of female students in
higher education. The Questionnaire on Sexual Harassment was used
to facilitate this examination. Appendix B, Part I of the question-
naire focuses upon attitudes and beliefs concerning sexual harassment
on campus. Part II of the questionnaire is concerned with the stu-
dent's personal experiences of sexual harassment. Selected items
from the questionnaire have been analyzed in reference to the inde-
pendent variables of "professional school" (non-traditional and tra-
ditional) and "level in school" (undergraduate and graduate). The
analyses of data in this chapter parallel the order of the seven
hypotheses listed in Chapter Three.
Sample. A total of 2,507 questionnaires were mailed to female
students enrolled in selected professional schools in the state uni-
versity system of Florida. Graduate and undergraduate education were
the programs selected to represent the traditional programs. The non-
traditional programs selected were dentistry, engineering, law, medi-
cine, and veterinary medicine. The entire population of female stu-
dents enrolled in the schools of dentistry, law, medicine, and veter-
inary medicine in the state university system of Florida were surveyed.
The total enrollment of women in engineering programs at these schools
was surveyed. A sample was drawn from the undergraduate and graduate
schools of education from each of the three universities in the study.
As can be seen from Table 2, a response rate of over 40 percent
of the total sample was obtained. The same response rate was achieved
for each professional area of study with the exception of undergraduate
education and medicine. Table 2 also shows a 47 percent response rate
for the non-traditional professional schools and a 37 percent response
rate for the traditional professional schools. In addition, the grad-
uate level response rate is shown to be 13 percent greater than the
undergraduate response rate. Due to the small number of women in
dental, medical, and veterinary schools, the groups were combined
under the area of "medicine" to facilitate and improve upon statisti-
Institutional information. Florida State University (FSU), the
University of Florida (UF), and the University of South Florida (USF),
are the only universities in the state university system of Florida
that offer preparatory professional programs such as dentistry, law,
medicine, and veterinary medicine. These three universities are also
the largest universities within the state system. The areas of en-
gineering and education were included in this study for a comparison
of the undergraduate levels of study.
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