Gender-Biased Behavior at Work: What Can Surveys Tell Us About the Link Between Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination?

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Economics (CMC)

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This paper examines survey-based reports of sexual harassment and sex discrimination in order to identify the stylized facts about the nature of the relationship between them. In particular, we are interested in assessing whether these concepts measure similar forms of gender-biased behavior and whether they have the same effect on workers’ job satisfaction and intentions to leave their jobs. Our results provide little support for the notion that survey-based measures of sexual harassment and sex discrimination capture the same underlying behavior. Respondents do appear to differentiate between incidents of sexual harassment and incidents of sex discrimination in the workplace. There are gender differences in the consequences, however. Both sex discrimination and sexual harassment are associated with a higher degree of job dissatisfaction. However, women’s intended job changes appear to be more sensitive to experiencing sex discrimination, while men’s are more sensitive to experiencing sexual harassment. Although exploratory, when taken together these results give us hope that in the future sufficiently detailed surveys could provide a useful foundation for quantifying the link between sexual harassment and sex discrimination. They also suggest that the best prospect for developing—and then testing—a conceptual framework of gender bias lies in adopting a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating the insights of disciplines such as sociology, psychology, and economics.

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© 2009 Elsevier

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