#MeToo: What Is Sexual Harassment and Does the Gender of the Offender Matter?

By Nicole Marrone

Following the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors have stepped forward to share their experiences and work towards a more concrete understanding of what defines sexual harassment and what defines sexual assault. The Bucknell Institute of Public Policy examined how each gender defines a workplace action as sexual harassment or as relatively harmless.

The current survey split respondents into two groups and gave each group a different version of the question. The first group of individuals was asked if a male touching a female colleague’s arm at a meeting is sexual harassment and the second group of individuals was asked if a female touching a male colleague’s arm at a meeting is sexual harassment. By giving each group a different gender for the offender, Bucknell Institute of Public Policy was interested in whether or not men and women were more likely to believe a certain gender was more likely to commit an act of sexual harassment.

 

When the offender is a male, 4% of women believe that it is sexual harassment, 11% of women are not sure if it is sexual harassment, and 30% of women believe it is not sexual harassment. When the offender is a male, 3% of men believe that it is sexual harassment, 15% of men are not sure if it is sexual harassment, and 25% of men believe it is not sexual harassment.

When the offender is a female, 4% of women believe it is sexual harassment, 12% of women are not sure if it is sexual harassment, and 34% of women believe it is not sexual harassment. For men, when the offender is a female, 5% of men believe it is sexual harassment, 12% of men are not sure if it is sexual harassment, and 35% of men believe it is not sexual harassment.

The survey showed that the gender of the offender in this particular hypothetical situation does not appear to yield a large difference in how women and men view this action in regards to if it qualifies as sexual harassment or not.

In order to determine if the gender of the offender continued to yield less than impactful results, the Bucknell Institute of Public Policy asked each group another question. The first group was asked if a male supervisor suggests to a female colleague whom he supervises that he can help her career if she performs sexual favors for him is sexual harassment. The second group was asked if a female supervisor suggests to a male colleague whom she supervises that she can help his career if he performs sexual favors for him is sexual harassment.

When a male supervisor suggests to a female colleague that she could advance her career if she performs sexual favors for him, 44% of women said it was sexual harassment, 2% of women said they were not sure if it was sexual harassment, and 2% of women said it was not sexual harassment. For male respondents, 44% of men said it was sexual harassment, 4% of men said they were not sure it was sexual harassment, and 0% of men said it was not sexual harassment.

When a female supervisor suggests to a male colleague that he could advance his career if he performs sexual favors for her, 45% of women said it was sexual harassment, 2% of women said they were not sure if it was sexual harassment, and 1% of women said it was not sexual harassment. Of the male respondents, 40% of men said it was sexual harassment, 6% of men said they were not sure it was sexual harassment, and 4% of men said it was not sexual harassment.

Upon examining the survey results, it is evident that the gender of the offender is a less important factor in determining if an action qualifies as sexual harassment as supposed to the severity of the workplace action. What some would call an obvious result, should not be understated. In a world following the #MeToo movement where some individuals feel that all men are being generalized on the basis of a group of men who committed acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault, it would appear that Americans are evaluating each instance of possible sexual harassment upon the severity of the situation, not the sex of the offender.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/learning/lesson-plans/the- reckoning-teaching-about-the-metoo-moment-and-sexual-harassment-with-resources-from-the-new-york-times.html

Methodology is below:

YouGov interviewed 1116 respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 1000 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race, and education. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-
year sample with selection within strata by weighted sampling with replacements (using the person weights on the public use file).

The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity, years of education, and region. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post stratified according to these deciles.

The weights were then post-stratified on 2016 Presidential vote choice, and a four-way stratification of
gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories), and education (4-categories), to produce the final weight.

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