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Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus

Authors:
  • Vice President for Research

Abstract

This book presents a look at the "big picture." Is sexual harassment common? What kinds of behaviors are taking place? Who is being harassed, and who is doing the harassing? For students who admit to harassing others, why do they do it? How does sexual harassment affect students' educational experience? What do students think should be done about sexual harassment on campus? This report analyzes findings from a nationally representative survey of undergraduate college students commissioned by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation and conducted by Harris Interactive in spring 2005. The report is part of AAUW's continuing work to address the problem of sexual harassment in education. It reveals that colleges and universities still have work to do to foster a campus climate that is free from bias and harassment so that all students have an equal opportunity to excel in higher education. As this research documents, most college students experience some type of sexual harassment while at college, often during their first year. This book contains four chapters: (1) Defining Sexual Harassment on Campus; (2) Prevalence of Sexual Harassment on Campus; (3) Dealing With Sexual Harassment on Campus; and (4) Implications. This following are appended: (1) Methodology; and (2) Selected Resources. (Contains 12 figures.)
AAUW Educational Foundation
DRAWING THE LINE:
SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON CAMPUS
By Catherine Hill and Elena Silva
Published by the
American Association of University Women
Educational Foundation
1111 Sixteenth St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202/728-7602
Fax: 202/463-7169
TDD: 202/785-7777
E-mail: foundation@aauw.org
Web: www.aauw.org
Copyright © 2005
AAUW Educational Foundation
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States
First printing: December 2005
Editor: Susan K. Dyer
Cover and design: Alan B. Callander
Library of Congress Control Number: 2005936473
ISBN: 1-879922-35-5
023-06 7.5M 12/05
Table of Contents
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter 1. Defining Sexual Harassment on Campus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Chapter 2. Prevalence of Sexual Harassment on Campus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Chapter 3. Dealing With Sexual Harassment on Campus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Chapter 4. Implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Appendix A: Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Appendix B: Selected Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Figures
Figure 1. Percentage of College Students Who Say They Would Be Somewhat or
Very Upset by Certain Behaviors (By Gender). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Figure 2. Percentage of College Students Who Have Been Sexually Harassed or
Know Someone Personally Who Has Been Sexually Harassed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Figure 3. Percentage of College Students Who Have Been Sexually Harassed (By Gender) . . . . . . . . 18
Figure 4. Percentage of College Students Who Have Been Sexually Harassed (By Sexual Identity) . . 19
Figure 5. Percentage of College Students Who Have Been Sexually Harassed (By Race/Ethnicity). . 19
Figure 6. Percentage of College Students Who Say They Have Sexually Harassed
Others (By Gender). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Figure 7. Reactions to Sexual Harassment Experiences (By Gender) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Figure 8. Reactions to Sexual Harassment Experiences (By Sexual Identity) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Figure 9. Effects of Sexual Harassment on the Educational Experience (By Gender) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Figure 10. Percentage of Harassed Students Who Tell Someone (By Gender) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Figure 11. Does Your College or University Have a Designated Person or Office to
Contact If Someone Is a Victim of Sexual Harassment? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Figure 12. If You Told a School Employee, Was She or He a Title IX Representative? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Student Voices
Sexual Harassment Is ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Types of Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Types of Faculty/Staff-to-Student Sexual Harassment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Sexual Harassment Made Me Feel ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Sexual Harassment Affects My Education Because .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
I Didn’t Tell Anyone About Sexual Harassment Because ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
When I Told Someone About Sexual Harassment, They Said ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
AAUW Educational Foundation iii
Foreword
A college education plays a vital role in ensuring career success and long-term
economic security for women. Without a college degree, women earn substantially
less pay, receive far fewer employer benefits, and are less likely to be financially
independent. As a gateway to economic success and security, college is a
defining experience.
Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus reveals that colleges and universities
still have work to do to foster a campus climate that is free from bias and harass-
ment so that all students have an equal opportunity to excel in higher education.
As this research documents, most college students experience some type of
sexual harassment while at college, often during their first year. From unwanted
sexual remarks to forced sexual contact, these experiences cause students, espe-
cially female students, to feel upset, uncomfortable, angry, and disappointed in
their college experience. In response, students avoid places on campus, change
their schedules, drop classes or activities, or otherwise change their lives to avoid
sexual harassment. While many colleges and universities have policies in place,
sexual harassment continues to have a damaging impact on the educational experi-
ences of many college students.
For more than a decade the AAUW Educational Foundation has played a leader-
ship role in combating the problem of sexual harassment in education. AAUW’s
groundbreaking research documented the extent and effects of sexual harassment
in public schools. Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing and Sexual Harassment in School
(2001) revealed persistently high rates of sexual harassment among eighth through
11th graders and spurred national attention to the issue of sexual harassment in
K–12 schools.
With Drawing the Line, we examine this issue at the next level of education—
colleges and universities. Viewed as exemplars of diversity and inclusiveness,
colleges and universities play an important role in influencing the attitudes and
behaviors of young adults. At a time when colleges and universities are serving
more students than ever, creating a campus climate that is free from bias and
harassment is a necessary challenge for the higher education community. We
hope that this research sparks new dialogue about sexual harassment and
prompts innovative strategies for building harassment-free campuses.
Barbara O’Connor, President
AAUW Educational Foundation
December 2005
AAUW Educational Foundation v
Acknowledgments
The survey for this research was conducted by
Harris Interactive®. The AAUW Educational
Foundation especially thanks the project team
at Harris: Dana Markow, senior research
director; Jordan Fein, senior research associate;
Emily Zwanziger, research assistant; and
John Geraci, vice president.
The AAUW Educational Foundation thanks
the following individuals who made valuable
comments on drafts of this report: Gwenn
Bookman, interim chair, Division of Social
Sciences and Education, and associate prof-
essor of political science, Bennett College
for Women; Gwen Dungy, executive director,
National Association of Student Personnel
Administrators; Patrick Lemmon, executive
director, Men Can Stop Rape; Bernice Resnick
Sandler, senior scholar, Women’s Research and
Education Institute; Greg Roberts, executive
director, ACPA–College Student Educators
International; Charol Shakeshaft, professor
of foundations, leadership, and policy studies,
Hofstra University; and Elisabeth Woody,
principal research scientist, Policy Analysis
for California Education, University of
California, Berkeley.
Special thanks to the members of the 2003–05
AAUW Educational Foundation Research
Advisory Council for their guidance on
AAUW’s overall research program as well as
their thoughtful comments on the issue of
sexual harassment in higher education: Norma
Cantu, visiting professor of law and education,
University of Texas; Norma Elia Cantu,
professor of English, University of Texas, San
Antonio; Beatriz Chu Clewell, principal
research associate, Urban Institute; Gloria
Holguín Cuádraz, associate professor of
American studies and director of the Ethnic
Studies Program, Arizona State University
West; Sumru Erkut, associate director and
senior research scientist, Center for Research
on Women, Wellesley College; Michael
Kimmel, professor of sociology, State
University of New York, Stony Brook; Barbara
Lieb, independent educational consultant;
Margo Okazawa-Rey, former director,
Women’s Leadership Institute, Mills College;
Deborah Siegel, director of special projects,
National Council for Research on Women; and
Elisabeth Woody.
Appreciation also goes to the following
AAUW staff: Sue Dyer, AAUW senior editor,
and Alan Callander, AAUW senior graphic
designer, for their thorough and creative work;
Leslie Annexstein, director, AAUW Legal
Advocacy Fund, and Mariama Boney, associate
director of programs and partnerships, AAUW,
for providing thoughtful comments; and
Miriam Sievers for contributing to the prelimi-
nary analysis of the research findings during
her summer internship at AAUW.
This publication is funded by generous contri-
butions to the AAUW Educational Foundation
Eleanor Roosevelt Fund. The report also
reflects the generous support of AAUW of
Oregon, which committed significant funds
to support the report’s dissemination as part
of AAUW’s Building a Harassment-Free
Campus initiative.
About the Authors
Catherine Hill is a senior research associate at
the AAUW Educational Foundation, where she
focuses on higher education and women’s
economic security. Recent projects include Public
Perceptions of the Pay Gap (2005) and Tenure Denied:
Cases of Sex Discrimination in Academia (2004).
Previously Hill was the director of income
security programs at the National Academy of
Social Insurance and a study director at the
Institute for Women’s Policy Research. She holds
bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell
University and a doctorate in public policy from
Rutgers University.
Elena Silva is the director of research at the
AAUW Educational Foundation. In this capacity,
she leads the planning, design, and administration
of AAUW’s research projects and grants on
gender equity in K–12 education, higher educa-
tion, and the workplace and oversees the publica-
tion and distribution of AAUW research reports.
Silva has a background in school-based research
and public education policy and reform. She
holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the
University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a
master’s degree and a doctorate in education
from the University of California, Berkeley.
vi Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Executive Summary
early two-thirds of college students experi-
ence some type of sexual harassment. Yet
less than 10 percent of these students tell a
college or university employee about their experi-
ences and an even smaller fraction officially
report them to a Title IX officer. The few sexual
harassment cases that are pursued as a legal
matter—those that reach the front pages of
newspapers—are simply the tip of the iceberg.
Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
presents a look at the “big picture.” Is sexual
harassment common? What kinds of behaviors
are taking place? Who is being harassed, and who
is doing the harassing? For students who admit
to harassing others, why do they do it? How does
sexual harassment affect students’ educational
experience? What do students think should be
done about sexual harassment on campus?
This report analyzes findings from a nationally
representative survey of undergraduate college
students commissioned by the American
Association of University Women Educational
Foundation and conducted by Harris Interactive
in spring 2005. The report is part of AAUW’s
continuing work to address the problem of
sexual harassment in education. For more than
a decade AAUW has been on the forefront of
research and advocacy on this issue. Hostile
Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment
in America’s Schools (1993) and Hostile Hallways:
Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School
(2001) revealed widespread harassment among
middle and high school students. The resource
guide Harassment-Free Hallways: How to Stop Sexual
Harassment in School (2001) is one of AAUW’s
most requested publications.
With this new report AAUW takes the issue of
sexual harassment to the next level of education:
colleges and universities. Women have made
tremendous gains in higher education and are
now a majority of America’s college students,
yet anecdotal evidence of a “chilly climate” for
female students, especially in traditionally male-
dominated disciplines, is widespread. Aside from
documenting criminal behavior such as rape
and sexual assault, little research has been
done on the prevalence of sexual harassment
on college campuses.
This research examines how college students
perceive, experience, and respond to a wide range
of unwanted sexual behaviors. Chapter 1 defines
sexual harassment, distinguishing between a
narrow legal definition of the term and the
broader definition used in this research, and
describes how college students define the term.
Chapter 2 describes the prevalence of sexual
harassment, including the perceptions of
students who have been sexually harassed as
well as the rationales of students who admit to
harassing others. Chapter 3 examines the
emotional and educational impact of sexual
harassment, including students’ recommenda-
tions for improving the campus climate. The
report concludes with a call for dialogue and
includes questions that should be addressed.
Key Research Findings
Sexual harassment is common on
college campuses.
Sexual harassment is widespread among college
students across the country. A majority of college
students experience sexual harassment. More
than one-third encounter sexual harassment
during their first year. A majority of students
experience noncontact forms of harassment—
from sexual remarks to electronic messages—and
nearly one-third experience some form of phys-
ical harassment, such as being touched, grabbed,
or forced to do something sexual. Sexual harass-
ment occurs nearly everywhere on campus,
including student housing and classrooms. It
happens on large and small campuses, at public
2Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
N
and private colleges and universities, and at
two-year and four-year institutions. It is most
common at large universities, four-year institu-
tions, and private colleges.
Men and women are equally likely to be
harassed, but in different ways and with
different responses.
Male and female students are nearly equally
likely to be sexually harassed on campus.
Female students are more likely to be the target
of sexual jokes, comments, gestures, or looks.
Male students are more likely to be called gay
or a homophobic name.
Female students are more likely to be upset
by sexual harassment and to feel embarrassed,
angry, less confident, afraid, worried about
whether they can have a happy relationship,
confused or conflicted about who they are, or
disappointed in their college experience. Female
students are also more likely to change their
behavior in some way as a result of the experi-
ence. For example, more than half of female
victims avoid the person who harassed them or
avoid a particular building or place on campus.
Female victims are more likely to find it hard to
pay attention in class or have trouble sleeping
as a result of sexual harassment.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
students are more likely to be harassed.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)
students1are more likely than heterosexual
students to experience sexual harassment; be
upset by experiences with harassment; and feel
self-conscious, angry, less confident, afraid, or
disappointed with their college experience.
They are also more likely to worry about gradu-
ating from college and having a successful career
as a result of sexual harassment. LGBT students
are more likely to want their college or university
to do more to prevent sexual harassment.
Different racial and ethnic groups
experience sexual harassment in similar,
but not identical, ways.
For the most part, white, black, and Hispanic
students perceive and react to sexual harassment
in similar ways.2Some types of sexual harassment
—receiving unwanted sexual comments or jokes,
being flashed or mooned, or being called a
homophobic name—appear to be more common
among white students. Among students who
admit to harassing another student, white
students are more likely to do so because
they think it is funny, while black and Hispanic
students are more likely to think the sexual
attention is wanted. Black and Hispanic students
are also more likely to say they would report
sexual harassment to a college employee and
to want their schools to take additional measures
against sexual harassment.
Men are more likely than women to harass.
Both male and female students are more likely to
be harassed by a man than by a woman. Half of
male students and almost one-third of female
students admit that they sexually harassed
someone in college, and about one-fifth of male
students admit that they harassed someone often
or occasionally. Although equal proportions of
male and female students say that they harassed a
student of the other gender, male students are
more likely to admit to harassing other male
students. Almost one-quarter of male harassers
admit to harassing male students, compared to
one-tenth of female harassers who admit to
harassing female students.
AAUW Educational Foundation 3
1LGBT students are combined into a single category because we do not have sufficient numbers to analyze the
groups separately.
2Separate analyses for Asian American, Native American, and other racial and ethnic groups are not possible due to
insufficient sample size.
4Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
More than half of harassers think their
actions are funny.
A majority of students who admit to harassing
another student say they did so because they
thought it was funny. About one-third thought
the person wanted the sexual attention, and
another third believed that it was just a part of
school and a lot of people did it. Less than one-
fifth wanted a date with the person. In other
words, students who admit to harassing another
student generally don’t see themselves as rejected
suitors, rather as misunderstood comedians.
Most victims don’t report sexual
harassment.
More than one-third of college students do not
tell anyone about their experiences with sexual
harassment. Those who do confide in someone
usually tell a friend. Female students are more
likely to talk to someone about their experiences
than are male students, but less than 10 percent
of all students report incidents of sexual harass-
ment to a college or university employee.
Students offer a range of reasons for why they
do not report incidents, including fear of embar-
rassment, guilt about their own behavior, skepti-
cism that anyone can or will help, and not
knowing whom to contact at the school. Still, the
top reason that students give for not reporting
sexual harassment is that their experience was not
serious or “not a big deal.”
***
Other than to say it is unwanted sexual behavior,
college students do not appear to have a common
standard for defining sexual harassment. More-
over, college students are reluctant to talk about
sexual harassment openly and honestly and are
more apt to joke or disregard the issue despite
their private concerns. This reticence to engage
in a serious dialogue about the issue may
contribute to the prevalence of sexual harass-
ment on campus, as students interpret one
another’s silence as complicity. At the very least
it is an indication that college students don’t
have a common understanding of where to
draw the line.
The ramifications of sexual harassment can be
serious. Sexual harassment can damage the
emotional and academic well-being of students,
provoke and exacerbate conflict among students,
and contribute to a hostile learning environment.
For colleges and universities, sexual harassment
can be financially costly and damage their
reputations. More broadly, society as a whole is
affected as graduating students bring their
attitudes about sexual harassment into the work-
place and beyond.
Defining Sexual Harassment on Campus
1
6Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Definitions Used in This Research
Survey respondents were provided with the
following definition of sexual harassment:
“Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome
sexual behavior which interferes with your life.
Sexual harassment is not behaviors that you like
or want (for example wanted kissing, touching
or flirting).” Throughout the survey, students
were asked to think about sexual harassment
specifically in the context of their college lives,
e.g., in class, on campus, or at college-related
events. This definition is intentionally broad to
capture any conduct that could negatively effect
the learning environment on college campuses,
whether or not the behavior is, or even should
be, illegal. Survey respondents were provided
with the following list of behaviors that, when
unwanted or unwelcome, serve as examples of
sexual harassment:
Made sexual comments, jokes, gestures,
or looks
Showed, gave or left you sexual pictures,
photographs, web pages, illustrations,
messages or notes
Posted sexual messages about you on the
Internet (e.g., websites, blogs) or e-mailed,
instant messaged, or text messaged sexual
messages about you
Spread sexual rumors about you
Called you gay or a lesbian or a homophobic
name (such as faggot, dyke or queer)
Spied on you as you dressed or showered at
school (e.g., in a dorm, in a gym, etc.)
Flashed or “mooned” you
Touched, grabbed, or pinched you in a
sexual way
Intentionally brushed up against you in a
sexual way
Asked you to do something sexual in
exchange for something (e.g., a better
grade, a recommendation, class notes, etc.)
Pulled at your clothing in a sexual way
Pulled off or down your clothing
Blocked your way, cornered you or followed
you in a sexual way
Forced you to kiss him or her
Forced you to do something sexual, other
than kissing
Students were asked to answer questions only
in the context of college-related events and
activities, such as
When you are in classes
When you are in campus buildings (including
student housing, libraries, athletic facilities,
administrative buildings, etc.)
When you are walking around campus
When you are at school-sponsored
events (including sporting events, campus
organizations or clubs, campus fraternity
or sorority events)
classmate repeatedly makes obnoxious sexual
comments to you. Someone from your dorm
hangs sexually explicit posters on your door.
A professor’s friendly “concern” starts to feel
like a demand for a sexual relationship that
you don’t want but are afraid to reject. Sexual
harassment is all too familiar, and yet it defies
a simple definition.
This chapter addresses the challenge of defining
sexual harassment on the college campus and
how that definition has evolved during the past
three decades. It describes how college students
define sexual harassment and respond to a range
of sexually harassing behaviors. As this chapter
reveals, sexual harassment at colleges and univer-
sities can be understood and defined in different
ways, making it all the more complicated to
prevent and address as an issue on campus.
The Term “Sexual Harassment”
Sexual harassment has long been an unfortunate
part of the educational experience, affecting
students’ emotional well-being and their ability to
succeed academically. The term “sexual harass-
ment,” coined in the early 1970s, became
commonly used by the 1980s. Sexual harassment
was first recognized by the federal courts in
Williams v. Saxbe, 413 F. Supp. 654 (D.C.D.C.
1976), as a form of sex discrimination in the
workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimina-
tion on the basis of race, color, national origin,
religion, and sex. Ten years later in Meritor Savings
Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), the Supreme
Court provided guidance on determining if
harassing conduct is unwelcome as well as clari-
fying the level of employer liability.
In the educational arena, sex discrimination is
prohibited in any educational program or activity
that receives federal funding under Title IX of
the Education Amendments of 1972. The
Supreme Court affirmed in 1992 that sexual
harassment is a form of sex discrimination under
Title IX when it ruled in Franklin v. Gwinnett
County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60 (1992), that
students could seek monetary damages for sexual
harassment from educational institutions. Since
then, the number of sexual harassment cases
against colleges and universities, as well as K–12
public schools, has grown considerably.
The Legal Definition
Lawyers, policy-makers, and educators have
attempted to provide a standard definition and a
common set of guidelines for sexual harassment.
The U.S. Department of Education Office for
Civil Rights (OCR) is charged with interpreting
and enforcing Title IX.3OCR’s guidance on
sexual harassment (1997) recognizes two types of
sexual harassment in educational institutions:
quid pro quo harassment and hostile environ-
ment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment
involves requests for sexual favors, generally by a
school employee to a student, in exchange for
some type of educational participation or benefit.
Hostile environment harassment entails harassing
sexual conduct that is so severe, persistent, or
pervasive that it limits a student’s ability to partic-
ipate in or benefit from educational activities.
Courts have held colleges, universities, and K–12
schools liable for student-to-student and teacher-
to-student sexual harassment under Title IX
(see Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education,
AAUW Educational Foundation 7
A
3Any school that receives federal funding (and nearly all do) must comply with Title IX. OCR can deny funding to
any institution that fails to do so.
526 U.S. 629 [1999], and Gebser v. Lago Vista
Independent School District, 524 U.S. 274 [1998]).
With respect to student-to-student harassment,
the Supreme Court stated in Davis that the term
“sexual harassment” applied only to misconduct
that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offen-
sive that it effectively deprives the harassed
student of access to educational opportunities.
To hold a school liable for monetary damages,
the student would have to demonstrate that
school officials had actual knowledge of the
harassment and were deliberately indifferent to it.
Determining what is sufficiently severe, perva-
sive, and objectively offensive can be compli-
cated. As this research demonstrates, people
disagree on the severity of the problem. What is
a laughing matter for one student may be offen-
sive to another and traumatic to yet another,
especially in the campus community, which teems
with students and staff from a diversity of back-
grounds and perspectives. In this context the
legal standard is limited in its ability to serve
as a catalyst to change behavior.
An Academic Definition
Nearly all colleges and universities try to provide
guidance on the issue of sexual harassment. In
a guidebook on college administration, Sandler
and Shoop (1997, p. 4) define sexual harassment
as follows:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for
sexual favors, and other verbal or physical
conduct of a sexual nature constitute
sexual harassment when any one of the
following is true: (1) submission to such
conduct is made either explicitly or
implicitly a term or condition of a
person’s employment or academic
advancement; (2) submission to or rejec-
tion of such conduct by an individual is
used as the basis for employment deci-
sions or academic decisions affecting the
person; (3) such conduct has the purpose
or effect of unreasonably interfering
with a person’s work or academic
performance or creating an intimidating,
hostile, or offensive working, learning,
or social environment.
Similar language can be found in school policies
at universities and colleges around the country.
Student handbooks, websites, and other written
policies and procedures constitute efforts by
schools to comply with Title IX. As discussed in
Chapter 3, these efforts by colleges and universi-
ties to provide guidance are common yet do not
appear to translate into changed behavior among
students on campus.
In the past few decades researchers have
contributed significantly to our understanding of
sexual harassment in college, although it is diffi-
cult to compare studies as they vary considerably
in scope and methodology. Several major studies
focus on the experiences of K–12 students
(AAUW, 1993 and 2001; Stein, Marshall, and
Tropp, 1993; U.S. Department of Education,
Office of the Under Secretary, 2004). Others
focus on female undergraduate and graduate
students (Dziech and Weiner, 1990; Glaser and
Thorpe, 1986; Sandler and Shoop, 1997; U.S.
Department of Justice, National Institute of
Justice, 2000) or on individual institutions (Lott,
Reilly, and Howard, 1982; Riggs, Murrell, and
Cutting, 2000; Kelley and Parsons, 2000).
Combined, these and other studies offer a valu-
able body of research on the issue of sexual
harassment. Until now, however, no nationally
representative study has used the same survey
questions to examine sexual harassment among
both male and female college students.
8Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
College Students Define
Sexual Harassment
This survey asked students to define sexual
harassment in their own words before they were
provided with the definition used for the
remainder of the survey. Although nearly all
students (97 percent) are confident that they
know what sexual harassment is, they offer a
range of definitions. Some refer to unwelcome
sexual remarks or suggestions while others
include both verbal and physical advances. Some
students define it as peer to peer while others
point to the abuse of authority by a faculty
member or resident adviser.
Despite the variety of definitions, students agree
on some common themes. The majority of
college students recognize sexual harassment to
be some type of unwanted or unwelcome
behavior or combination of behaviors. The most
common student definitions include unwanted
sexual conduct or behavior; unwanted verbal
sexual advances, comments, or name calling; or
unwanted physical sexual advances. In defining
the term, students also commonly refer to behav-
iors that are “inappropriate” or “offensive” or
make others feel “uncomfortable.”
To elicit student perspectives on sexually
harassing behaviors, the survey listed 15 examples
of sexual harassment (see page 6) and asked
students how upset they would be if they
encountered these behaviors. Students say that
they would be very or somewhat upset if
someone did the following:
Forced them to do something sexual
other than kissing (92 percent)
Pulled off or down their clothing (92 percent)
Spread sexual rumors about them (92 percent)
AAUW Educational Foundation 9
Sexual Harassment Is ...
“Being forced into uncomfortable or undesirable sexual
situations.” – Male, 1st year
“Any unwelcomed comment or gesture pertaining to your
body or gender.” – Female, 5th year
“An unwanted and inappropriate sexual advance that
results in a stressful environment.” – Female, 2nd year
“Using sexual remarks or touching someone in private
places without permission.” – Male, 2nd year
“Sexual harassment is the unwanted touching, language
used towards you in a sexual way, showing a person
any type of pornographic materials, talking dirty in
front of others, etc.” – Female, 4th year
“Being sexually threatened.” – Male, 2nd year
“When someone in a position of authority uses his/her
position to demand sexual behavior from someone.”
– Male, 4th year
“Molesting, joking, etc. about sex or someone’s body.”
– Male, 3rd year
“When someone keeps badgering you about sex.
Unwanted propositions and the solicitor knows it.”
– Female, 2nd year
“When someone oversteps your personal boundaries
and refers to you in a derogatory manner.”
– Female, 1st year
“Any unwanted sexual advances. Ranges from simple
conversation, to touching, to rape.” – Male, 4th year
“Anyone who uses inappropriate, uncomfortable words
about your sex or you, or who forces sexual relations
or any sort of physical contact upon you that is not
wanted.” – Female, 2nd year
“Harassment based on gender can be verbal, nonverbal,
or physical but it is unwanted.” – Male, 3rd year
“An atmosphere of degradation and intimidation by use
of sex or sexual references to control or manipulate
another party.” – Female, 4th year
Student Voices
10 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Posted sexual messages about them on the
Internet (e.g., websites, blogs) or e-mailed,
instant messaged, or text messaged sexual
messages about them (91 percent)
Spied on them as they dressed or showered
at school (e.g., in a dorm, in a gym, etc.)
(91 percent)
Forced them to kiss him or her (91 percent)
Asked them to do something sexual in
exchange for giving them something (e.g., a
better grade, a recommendation, class notes,
etc.) (88 percent)
Blocked their way, cornered them, or followed
them in a sexual way (88 percent)
Touched, grabbed, or pinched them in a
sexual way (83 percent)
Pulled at their clothing in a sexual way
(80 percent)
Showed, gave, or left them sexual pictures,
photographs, web pages, illustrations, messages,
or notes (76 percent)
Called them gay or lesbian or a homophobic
name (such as faggot, dyke, queer) (76 percent)
Intentionally brushed up against them in a
sexual way (73 percent)
Made sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or
looks (56 percent)
• Flashed or mooned them (48 percent)
Not surprisingly, students are most likely to find
experiences that involve physical contact to be
very upsetting. Students are just as likely,
however, to be at least somewhat upset by verbal
and other noncontact types of sexual harass-
ment. In a few instances, a noncontact behavior
was rated as more upsetting than a physical
behavior. For example, most students say that
having sexual rumors spread, being spied on, or
having sexual messages posted on the Internet or
via e-mail would be more upsetting than being
touched, grabbed, or pinched in a sexual way.
Most students agree that sexual harassment is
upsetting. Beneath this common ground,
however, lie some significant differences.4Male
and female students part ways considerably,
with female students more likely to say they
would be upset by every type of harassment
(see Figure 1). For example, only half of male
students (54 percent) say they would be upset
if someone intentionally brushed up against
them in a sexual way. In contrast, 90 percent of
female students say this type of behavior would
upset them. Male students are also much less
likely than female students to say they would
be upset by sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or
looks or by sexual pictures, photographs, illustra-
tions, message, or notes. These gender differ-
ences are quite remarkable as they are statistically
significant for all 15 types of sexual harassment
listed in the survey.
Although less striking, some differences by race
and ethnicity are also found in student reactions
to hypothetical examples. Because black and
Hispanic student populations are more dispro-
portionately female—and female students are
more likely to find sexual harassment upsetting—
these differences by race/ethnicity may actually
be gender-based differences. Given that, differ-
ences were examined within the female popula-
tions of racial/ethnic groups. Black and Hispanic
female students are more likely than white female
students to say they would be very upset by the
following behaviors:5
4All differences throughout this report are statistically significant at the 95th percentile unless otherwise noted.
5Except for the third bullet (intentionally brushed up against in a sexual way), differences between black and Hispanic
students are not statistically significant at the 95th percentile.
AAUW Educational Foundation 11
12 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Someone touched, grabbed, or pinched them in
a sexual way (85 percent black and 83 percent
Hispanic versus 72 percent white)
Someone pulled at their clothing in a sexual
way (78 percent black and 78 percent Hispanic
versus 68 percent white)
Someone intentionally brushed up against them
in a sexual way (55 percent black, 66 percent
Hispanic, 42 percent white)
Someone flashed or mooned them (34 percent
black and 34 percent Hispanic versus
20 percent white)
Few women of any race/ethnicity say they would
not be upset at all by these behaviors.
Women of all racial/ethnic groups say that they
would be very upset by most forms of contact
harassment. For example, nearly all women
(97 percent) say they would be very upset if they
were forced to do something sexual other than
kissing. In contrast, only 72 percent of men say
they would be very upset if they were forced to
do something sexual other than kissing.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)
and heterosexual students react in similar ways to
hypothetical examples. For a few types of sexual
harassment, LGBT students are less likely to be
very or somewhat upset than are heterosexual
students. Differences may exist within genders
between LGBT students and heterosexual
students, but the sample size is insufficient to
make these observations. Notable differences
between LGBT and heterosexual students are
more evident in terms of prevalence and reac-
tions to personal experiences. These differences
are discussed in subsequent chapters.
Summary
Defining sexual harassment is not simple. While
federal standards exist, in most cases and in most
contexts an element of subjectivity determines
what is and is not sexual harassment. As the law
suggests, college administrators and others
involved in adjudicating disputes about sexual
harassment are supposed to imagine what a
reasonable person would think. This research
reveals just how problematic this approach can
be. While college students agree that “unwanted”
is a necessary part of any definition of sexual
harassment, opinions about specific behaviors
vary considerably. As discussed in the following
chapters, students differ in how they experience
and respond to sexual harassment, with gender
differences especially pronounced.
Prevalence of Sexual Harassment on Campus
2
14 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
exual harassment is a part of college life,
so common that, according to one student,
“it seems almost normal.” Most college students
(89 percent) say that sexual harassment occurs
among students at their college, with one-fifth
(21 percent) saying that peer harassment happens
often. When asked about specific kinds of
harassment, two-thirds of students (62 percent)
say that they have been sexually harassed, and a
similar number (66 percent) say that they know
someone personally (such as a friend or class-
mate) who has been sexually harassed. That
means that about six million college students
encounter sexual harassment at college.
Expressed another way, on a campus of 10,000
undergraduate students, about 6,000 students
will be harassed.
This chapter examines the prevalence of sexual
harassment on campus. It describes what types of
sexual harassment occur, where they occur, who
is harassed, and who is harassing. For the most
part, students indicate that verbal and visual
kinds of sexual harassment are common, but
incidents involving contact or physical threat
are not rare. In addition, a sizeable number of
students—41 percent—admit that they have
sexually harassed someone. In most cases, these
students say that they thought it was funny, the
other person liked it, or it is “just a part of
school life.” On this final point, both harassed
and harassing students agree: Sexual harassment
is indeed a common part of campus life.
What Types of Sexual
Harassment Occur?
According to college students, unwanted
comments, jokes, gestures, and looks are the
most common type of sexual harassment on
campus (see Figure 2). About half of college
students have been the target of unwanted sexual
comments, jokes, gestures, or looks, and a similar
number know someone personally who experi-
enced this type of harassment. Being called gay,
lesbian, or a homophobic name is also a common
experience among college students. More than
one-third know someone who has been called
gay, lesbian, or a homophobic name, and about
one-quarter of students have had this happen
to them. Physical forms of harassment are also
prevalent. For example, one-quarter of college
students have been touched, grabbed, or pinched
in a sexual way, and nearly one-third of students
know someone personally who has experienced
this kind of harassment. Other common types
of sexual harassment include flashing or
mooning, intentionally brushing up against
someone in a sexual way, and spreading sexual
rumors about individuals.
While the percentage of college students experi-
encing some types of sexual harassment is rela-
tively low, the number of implied incidents is
quite high. For example, the 5 percent of under-
graduate students ages 18 to 24 who say that they
have been forced to do something sexual other
than kissing translates into about half a million
students nationwide, and the 11 percent of
students who say they have been physically
blocked, cornered, or followed in a sexual way
translates into about a million students nation-
wide.6Put another way, at a campus with 10,000
undergraduate students, 500 students will experi-
ence some form of sexual assault while at
college, and about a thousand students will be
blocked, cornered, or followed in a sexual way
during their college lives—no trivial matter for
colleges and universities.
S
6This calculation is based on an estimate of 10 million undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24 in 2005
(see Appendix A: Methodology).
Where Does Sexual
Harassment Occur?
All Over Campus
Sexual harassment is not confined to any
particular location on campus. To the extent
that any pattern emerges, the number of
incidents at a location probably reflects the
amount of time students spend there. Among
students who have been harassed, more than
one-third have been harassed in a dorm or
student housing (39 percent) or outside on
campus grounds (37 percent). About one-fifth
have been harassed in common areas of
campus buildings (24 percent) or in class-
rooms or lecture halls (20 percent). More
than one-quarter of students (27 percent)
have been harassed “someplace else,” and
12 percent are not sure. The latter response
may in part reflect the “placeless” nature of
some forms of sexual harassment, such as
e-mail messages or harassment that takes place
in multiple places (e.g., being followed). It may
also reflect the classification of an incident as
“related to their college life,” even if it happened
off campus. For example, an incident that
occurred in a professor’s home or at a bar that
is frequented by students may indeed be part
of the college experience, even if the sexual
harassment did not occur on campus.
AAUW Educational Foundation 15
16 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
The likelihood of encountering sexual harass-
ment at a particular location varies somewhat by
gender. Among students who have encountered
harassment, male students (45 percent) are more
likely than female students (35 percent) to have
been sexually harassed in their dorm or student
housing, while female students are more likely
to have been harassed outside on campus
grounds (43 percent versus 29 percent). Male
students (9 percent) are also more likely than
female students (3 percent) to have encountered
sexual harassment in a locker room or bathroom.
At All Types of Institutions
Sexual harassment happens at all kinds of
colleges, but it is somewhat more prevalent at
larger schools. Students attending small colleges
with fewer than a thousand undergraduates are
less likely to say that sexual harassment happens
on their campus. Almost one-third of these
students (27 percent) say that sexual harassment
never happens at their college, compared to
8 percent of students attending large schools
(10,000 or more undergraduates). The differences
by size of school are most pronounced regarding
sexual harassment of students by professors,
teaching assistants, and other school employees.
About 70 percent of students at large schools
say that professors, teaching assistants, or other
school employees sexually harass students on
their campus, compared to about half of students
(50 percent) at small schools. In both cases,
however, most students say that it does not
happen often. We also examined differences
among students attending colleges in urban,
suburban, or rural locations but found no statisti-
cally significant differences.
Sexual harassment appears to be less common
at two-year colleges than at four-year colleges
and universities. More than half of students
(57 percent) attending two-year colleges and
nearly three-fourths of students (71 percent) at
four-year colleges say that students harass other
students often or occasionally. Conversely, almost
one-third of students (32 percent) attending
two-year colleges and about one-fifth of students
(21 percent) at four-year colleges say that students
rarely or never sexually harass other students.
Half of students (50 percent) at two-year colleges
say they know someone personally who has been
sexually harassed, compared to 70 percent of
students at four-year colleges. About half of
students (48 percent) at two-year colleges say
that they have been sexually harassed, compared
to 65 percent of students at four-year institutions.
These differences reflect in part the shorter
length of time that students attend two-year insti-
tutions. They may also reflect the fact that
students attending two-year colleges are more
likely to live at home with their parents. Among
our sample, 60 percent of students at two-year
colleges compared to 25 percent of students
attending four-year colleges lived at home with
their parents. Conversely, 44 percent of students
at four-year institutions and 4 percent of students
at two-year colleges lived on campus. Since the
dorm or student housing is the location cited by
students as the most likely spot for sexual harass-
ment, it makes sense that students who do not
live on campus are less likely to encounter harass-
ment there. Indeed, only about one-fifth of
two-year college students (22 percent) who have
been harassed have encountered sexual harass-
ment at a dorm or student housing, compared to
43 percent of the same group attending four-
year colleges.7
7The proportion of students at two-year colleges who say they encountered sexual harassment in student housing or a
dorm is larger than the proportion who live on campus. This difference may not be inconsistent as students who do not
live on campus may still attend events or parties in the dorms. Some students may also have confused student housing
with off-campus housing where students live.
Rates of some types of sexual harassment are
somewhat higher among students attending private
colleges than among those attending public
colleges. More than two-thirds of students
(68 percent) at private colleges and 59 percent
of students at public colleges have been sexually
harassed. While rates of contact harassment are
similar between the two groups (34 percent private
versus 32 percent public), rates of noncontact
harassment differ somewhat (65 percent private
versus 58 percent public). In addition, private
college students (45 percent) are somewhat more
likely than public college students (37 percent) to
admit that they have harassed someone in a
noncontact way.
Students’ perceptions of campus climate differ
from their personal experiences. Private college
students are somewhat more likely than public
college students to say that sexual harassment
is not occurring on their campus (15 percent
versus 10 percent) or “only a little” sexual harass-
ment happens (42 percent versus 32 percent).
That is, students at private colleges are more likely
to have encountered sexual harassment themselves
but are less likely to think that it is common on
their campus.
Who Is Harassed?
Both Male and Female Students Are
Harassed, But in Different Ways
Male (61 percent) and female (62 percent) students
are equally likely to encounter sexual harassment in
their college lives.Important differences between
men and women are evident, however, when the
types of harassment—as well as reactions to these
experiences—are considered (see Figure 3).
Female students are more likely to experience
sexual harassment that involves physical contact
(35 percent versus 29 percent).
Among all students, more than one-third of
females (41 percent) and males (36 percent)
experience sexual harassment in their first year of
college. Among harassed students, 66 percent of
females and 59 percent of males encounter sexual
harassment in their first year.
Differences by Sexual Identity
and Race/Ethnicity
Some groups of students are more likely to be
sexually harassed than are others. Lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are
more likely than heterosexual students to be sexu-
ally harassed in college and to be sexually harassed
often (see Figure 4). LGBT students are at higher
risk for both contact and noncontact types of
sexual harassment.8Harassers come from all
quarters of the academic community. Among
students who have experienced harassment,
LGBT students are more likely to have been
harassed by peers (92 percent versus 78 percent),
teachers (13 percent versus 7 percent), and
school employees (11 percent versus 5 percent).
The survey reveals racial/ethnic differences in the
prevalence of sexual harassment among college
students (see Figure 5). White college students are
more likely than black and Hispanic students to
experience sexual harassment. White students are
more likely to experience verbal and other non-
contact forms of harassment. Specifically, white
students are more likely than their black and
Hispanic peers to hear sexual comments, jokes,
gestures, or looks (54 percent white versus
49 percent black and 49 percent Hispanic),
to be flashed or mooned (30 percent versus
19 percent and 21 percent), or to be called a
homophobic name (26 percent versus 14 percent
and 14 percent). College students are equally
likely to experience physical or contact sexual
harassment regardless of race/ethnicity.
AAUW Educational Foundation 17
8The one exception is “forced sexual contact,” where the size of the sample was not sufficient to draw conclusions.
18 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
AAUW Educational Foundation 19
Racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence of
sexual harassment may in part reflect the types of
schools attended and the gender make-up of
different populations of college students. White
students are more likely to attend colleges where
sexual harassment is somewhat more common,
namely private colleges or four-year public insti-
tutions. Because black and Hispanic males are
underrepresented on college campuses, black and
Hispanic populations are predominately female,
and our sample reflects this as well. Differences
among women by race/ethnicity, however, still
appear to reflect a greater incidence of sexual
harassment among white students. White women
are more likely than black and Hispanic women
to know someone personally who has been
harassed (69 percent white versus 59 percent
black and 55 percent Hispanic). White women
are also more likely than black and Hispanic
women to have been the target of unwanted
sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or looks
(60 percent versus 50 percent and 47 percent)
and more likely to have been mooned or flashed
(33 percent versus 16 percent and 20 percent).
Other experiences are not statistically significant
when examined by race and gender.
Who Is Harassing?
Student-to-Student
Student-to-student harassment is the most
common form of sexual harassment on campus.
More than two-thirds of students (68 percent)
say that peer harassment happens often or occa-
sionally at their college, and more than three-
quarters of students (80 percent) who experienced
sexual harassment have been harassed by a
student or a former student. Given that students
comprise the vast majority of the campus popu-
lation, it is perhaps not surprising that most
sexual harassment occurs between and among
students. Still, the prevalence of peer harassment
among college students suggests a student culture
that accepts or at least seems to tolerate this type
of behavior.
20 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Types of Student-to-Student
Sexual Harassment
“There is a guy in all my classes who consistently
touches me in a sexual way that I really don’t
appreciate.” – Female, 2nd year
“Just at a party where someone tried to get me to
kiss them and I didn’t want to but was forced to.”
– Male, 1st year
“Phone harassment calling me derogatory
homosexual names [and] leaving messages.”
– Male, 4th year
“A lewd joke about rape directed to me during a
soccer game.” – Female, 2nd year
“A girl kept trying to show off her breasts to get my
attention.” – Male, 3rd year
“Joking around with other guys calling each other
gay.” – Male, 3rd year
“Someone tried to force me to kiss them and pushed
me into a room.” – Female, 4th year
“I got mooned and made fun of.” – Male, 1st year
“Another student forced me to do things I did not
want to do.” – Female, 4th year
People who lived in the same hall as me in the
dorms started spreading rumors about my sex life,
which were not even close to true. They also
spread condoms around my room.”
– Female, 3rd year
“Just a female grabbing me in a sexual way.”
– Male, 4th year
“Being sent unwanted pornographic images through
e-mail.” – Male, 4th year
“Getting whistled [at] and/or had sexual related
comments made to me outdoors on campus
grounds.” – Female, 2nd year
Student Voices
Faculty/Staff-to-Student
Sexual harassment of undergraduates by faculty
and staff is less common than peer harassment,
but it does occur.9Almost one-fifth of students
(18 percent) say that faculty and staff often or
occasionally sexually harass students. Conversely,
only one-quarter of students (25 percent), say
that faculty and staff never harass students.
About 7 percent of harassed students have been
harassed by a professor. Only a small number of
students cite resident advisers, security guards,
coaches, counselors, or deans as harassers. While
faculty/staff-to-student sexual harassment does
not typically happen, these percentages imply
that roughly half a million undergraduate
students are sexually harassed by faculty or other
college personnel while in college.
Sexual harassment by faculty can be especially
traumatic because the harasser is in a position of
authority or power. One indication that students
find sexual harassment by a faculty or staff
member especially objectionable is that the
majority of students (78 percent) say that they
would report an incident if it involved a
professor, teaching assistant, or other staff
member, whereas less than half (39 percent)
say they would report an incident that involved
another student. Students may feel safer
reporting faculty and staff harassment because it
feels more egregious than peer harassment, which
may present the possibility of ridicule and may be
seen as something students should be able to
handle on their own.
Male and Female Harassers
Among students who have been harassed,10 both
male students (37 percent) and female (58 percent)
students have been harassed by a man. More than
half of these female students (58 percent) have
been harassed by one man, and a little less than
half (48 percent) have been harassed by a group
of men. Female-to-female student sexual harass-
AAUW Educational Foundation 21
Types of Faculty/Staff-to-Student
Sexual Harassment
“One of my professors always makes sexually
offensive jokes towards women. He doesn’t speak
about anyone within the class in particular, but
his jokes are always about sexual favors women
should perform.” – Female, 4th year
“It was with a professor and he suggested that my
grade could be better if I was more interested in
him.” – Female, 2nd year
“One of my supervisors tells me often that she wishes
that I liked older women and that she wishes I was
her age or vice versa, says we would be perfect.”
– Male, 2nd year
“I was in a class where telling off-color jokes was
acceptable and encouraged by the professor.”
– Female, 5th year
“I had a professor who used an example of a prosti-
tute, and he used me as the prostitute.”
– Female, 3rd year
“When I attended [university], one professor [name]
told me to my face that he wanted to have a sexual
relationship with me.” – Male, 4th year
“A teaching assistant offered me a better grade for a
sexual favor.” – Female, 4th year
“When I lived in a dorm, the RA would ogle my room-
mates and I when he saw us.” – Female, 3rd year
Student Voices
9In part, faculty-student harassment may be relatively uncommon compared to peer-to-peer harassment due to the broad
definition of sexual harassment used in this report. For example, we wouldn’t expect a professor to moon students—the
second largest type of sexual harassment reported by students.
10 This question referred to any experiences with sexual harassment at college and could include multiple incidents;
therefore, percentages do not add up to 100.
ment appears to be the least common combina-
tion. Less than 10 percent of female students
have been sexually harassed by another woman
(9 percent) or group of women (6 percent).
For male students who have been sexually harassed,
the picture is more complicated. About one-third
have been harassed by one man (37 percent)
or one woman (33 percent), and about one-fifth
have been harassed by a group of men (21 percent)
or a group of both men and women (23 percent).
A relatively large number of students (13 percent
total, 20 percent male, 7 percent female) are not
sure who harassed them. Presumably, these inci-
dents (e.g., spreading rumors, posting messages)
were conducted anonymously.
About four in 10 college students (41 percent)
admit to harassing someone. Among these
students, noncontact types of sexual harassment
are most common. For example, one-third of
these students (34 percent) say they made
unwanted sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or
looks, and 17 percent admit to making homo-
phobic remarks (see Figure 6).
More than half of male college students
(51 percent) admit that they have sexually
harassed someone in college, and more than
one-fifth (22 percent) admit to harassing
someone often or occasionally. One-fifth of
male students (20 percent) say that they have
physically harassed someone.
Although men are more likely to be cited as
harassers and to admit to harassing behaviors, the
problem of campus sexual harassment does not
rest solely with college men. Of the students who
have been harassed, one-fifth (20 percent) have
been harassed by a female. Almost one-third of
female students (31 percent) admit to committing
some type of harassment. These findings remind
us that not all men are sexual aggressors and not
all women are passive victims. Both male and
female students can and do behave in ways that
are viewed by others as overly sexually aggressive.
The distinction between harasser and victim is
also not so clear, as many students who admit to
harassing others have been harassed themselves.
Among students who have been the target of
sexual harassment, a majority (55 percent) say
that they have harassed others. In contrast, of
students who have never been harassed, only
17 percent say they have harassed others. More
than one-fifth of students (21 percent) who have
been harassed say that they have harassed others
often or occasionally.
These patterns reflect, in part, differences
in the willingness of students to recognize
unwanted sexual conduct in themselves and
others. These patterns also suggest a cycle
of sexual harassment.
Why Do Students Harass?
Harassers give the following reasons for
their behavior:
I thought it was funny (59 percent)
I thought the person liked it (32 percent)
It’s just a part of school life/a lot of people do
it/it’s no big deal (30 percent)
I wanted a date with the person (17 percent)
My friends encouraged/“pushed” me into
doing it (10 percent)
I wanted something from that person
(7 percent)
I wanted that person to think I had some sort
of power over them (4 percent)
Male students (63 percent) are more likely than
female students (54 percent) to think sexual
harassment is funny. Some differences are also
evident among racial/ethnic groups. White
22 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
AAUW Educational Foundation 23
students (36 percent) are more likely than black
or Hispanic students (25 percent each) to say that
they made unwanted sexual comments, jokes,
gestures, or looks to another person. White
students (61 percent) are also more likely than
black students (46 percent) to say they harassed
because they thought it was funny, whereas black
students (45 percent) are more likely than white
students (30 percent) to say they harassed
because they thought the person liked it.
Summary
Nearly two-thirds of students experience some
form of sexual harassment during their college
education. Sexual harassment is more common
on large campuses than smaller ones and more
prevalent at four-year colleges than two-year
colleges. Sexual harassment is more common at
private than public colleges (although public
college students are more likely to say it is
happening on their campus). Both male and
female students can be targets of sexual harass-
ment, although they tend to experience different
types of harassment. LGBT students are more
likely than their heterosexual peers to experience
sexual harassment.
Although both male and female students harass,
male students are more likely to be named as
harassers and to admit to harassing others.
Harassers justify their behavior by noting that
they thought it was funny or the other person
liked it.
It is easy to conflate what is normal or common
with what is acceptable. Prevalence should not, in
and of itself, imply tacit approval. Students do
not speak out against sexual harassment for many
reasons, even if they are deeply troubled by it. In
the following chapter we look at students’ reac-
tions to sexual harassment and the impact of
harassment on students’ emotional well-being
and their educational experiences.
24 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Dealing With Sexual Harassment on Campus
3
26 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Sexual Harassment Made Me Feel ...
“Upset and embarrassed.” – Female, 2nd year
“Belittled, alone, uncomfortable.”
– Female, 5th year
“Slightly uncomfortable, but not threatened.”
– Male, 3rd year
“Self conscious, pissed off, and concerned, in
that order.” – Female, 3rd year
“They happen so often that I’ve become very
immune to them. I get more annoyed by it
than anything.” – Male, 2nd year
“Annoyed but they don’t seem to be something
to take seriously.” – Male, 1st year
“It makes me feel like I have no control over
my life.” – Female, 4th year
“Annoyed, frustrated, embarrassed, violated.”
– Male, 4th year
“Angry, self conscious, ashamed.”
– Female, 3rd year
“They make me feel disgusted.” – Male, 2nd year
“It was funny at first, but then they kept doing it.”
– Male, 4th year
“I don’t really like them but I don’t feel threatened
or anything.” – Female, 4th year
“I begin to question my morals and what I stand
for.” – Female, 1st year
“It has made me feel threatened. It has made me
afraid of being raped.” – Female, 3rd year
“In general [it] makes you feel embarrassed and
hurt.” – Male, no year given
“They made me feel pretty cheap … like a piece of
meat but I guess you expect behavior like this at
college.” – Female, 2nd year
“It makes me feel horrible. It makes me feel like
a second-class citizen.” – Female, 2nd year
“Hurt and sad.” – Female, 1st year
“Bad at first but you learn to laugh it off.”
– Male, 5th year
Student Voices
AAUW Educational Foundation 27
mericans are simultaneously open and
reserved about sexuality and unwanted
sexual conduct, and students in American
colleges and universities are no exception. On
one hand, nearly all college students have seen
sexually harassing behaviors—as well as violent
assault and rape—on television, in magazines, or
in movies. On the other hand, most students do
not discuss their personal experiences with sexual
harassment openly: 27 percent of female students
and 44 percent of male students who have
encountered sexual harassment have never told
anyone. Dealing with sexual harassment in a
contradictory culture is a challenge for any insti-
tution. For colleges and universities—which are
simultaneously home, workplace, and learning
environment—drawing the line is especially chal-
lenging. Nevertheless, dealing with sexual harass-
ment on campus is essential to ensure a safe and
welcoming educational climate for all students.
This chapter examines the effects of sexual
harassment on students’ emotional well-being
and educational experiences. It discusses reac-
tions to sexual harassment, ranging from indiffer-
ence to embarrassment, anger, and fear.
Differences between male and female students
and differences by sexual identity and race/
ethnicity are explored. The chapter examines how
students deal with incidents of sexual harass-
ment; whom they talk to, if anyone; and whether
they report the incident to a school official. It
concludes with students’ recommendations for
how colleges can address sexual harassment.
Reactions to Sexual Harassment
As discussed in Chapter 1, college students nearly
universally view some kinds of sexual harassment
as upsetting, while their reactions to other kinds
are more mixed. As Figure 1 reveals, nearly all
students would be upset if someone pulled off
or down their clothing, forced them to kiss, or
forced them to do something sexual other than
kissing. But only about half of students would
be upset by unwanted sexual comments, jokes,
gestures or looks, and a little less than half
would be upset if they were flashed or mooned.
Overall, college students tend to view physical
forms of harassment as most upsetting, although
some noncontact conduct—such as spreading
sexual rumors or making quid pro quo requests
—is also viewed by nearly everyone as upsetting.
Differences between male and female reactions
to sexual harassment are most evident when
students are asked about their personal
experiences. The majority of female students
(68 percent) say they have felt very or somewhat
upset, compared to a third of male students
(35 percent). The remaining two-thirds of male
students (61 percent) say they have been either
not very or not at all upset. In contrast, more
than one-fifth of female students (23 percent)
A
Sexual Harassment Affects My
Education Because ...
“It makes me feel very uncomfortable and it affects
my willingness to accept the advice
or lectures offered by professors.”
– Female, 4th year
“Uncomfortable, did not want to be in class.”
– Female, no year given
“They distract from the working environment and
make it harder to concentrate because you
become paranoid.” – Male, no year given
“In school if you let things get to you, you aren’t
able to perform. Best thing is to just shake it off
and keep going.” – Male, no year given
“I felt violated and could not focus on my classes.
I also felt limited in where I could go on
campus.” – Female, 4th year
“Embarrassed and slightly uncomfortable going to
that class.” – Male, 4th year
Student Voices
28 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
say that they have been not very upset and
only 6 percent say that they have been not
at all upset by their experiences.11
Differences in Emotional Reactions
Female students are more likely than male
students to feel embarrassed, angry, less confi-
dent, afraid, confused, or disappointed with
their college experience as a result of sexual
harassment (see Figure 7). Female students
are also more likely to worry (at least a little)
about sexual harassment. Only one-fifth of
male students (20 percent) say they worry,
compared to more than half of female students
(54 percent). Very few male or female students
(1 to 2 percent), however, say they worry about
sexual harassment often.
Differences by emotional reaction also occur
between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
students (LGBT) and heterosexual students.
While equally upset by hypothetical examples,
LGBT students are more likely to feel upset by
their actual experiences with sexual harassment
than are heterosexual students (see Figure 8).
Impact on Education
Sexual harassment has an impact on the educa-
tional experience in large and small ways.
Most commonly, students avoid the person
who harasses them (38 percent) and stay
away from particular buildings or places on
campus (19 percent). Only a handful of
students change colleges (3 percent), but about
6 percent think about transferring colleges
as a result of sexual harassment.
Some students are more likely to be adversely
affected by sexual harassment. Female students
are more likely than male students to have their
educational experience disrupted (see Figure 9).
I Didn’t Tell Anyone About Sexual
Harassment Because ...
“Don’t know. Didn’t know who to tell or how to
say it.” – Female, 4th year
“It wasn’t a big deal.” – Male, 2nd year
“There’s no one to tell. Besides if I decided to tell
someone other than a fellow student it would
probably be questioned or ignored.”
– Female, 4th year
“I’ve had bad sexual experiences in the past that
make me more likely to not want to tell anyone.”
– Female, 3rd year
“Not sure … I guess [I was] scared or felt it wouldn’t
be taken seriously.” – Female, 1st year
“Felt I was probably being paranoid. It was rare
and infrequent occurrences and never escalated to
anything even moderate, so I just brush it off and try
to forget about it.” – Female, 2nd year
“I was embarrassed.” – Female, 2nd Year
“Not that big of a deal. I could take care of it myself.”
– Female, 5th year
“Thought it best to handle the situation on my own.”
Male, 5th year
“It wasn’t serious enough to report.” – Male, 4th year
“It wasn’t that big a deal and I didn’t want anyone
to get in trouble or to make myself look childish.”
– Female, 3rd year
“I didn’t think it was serious; just another part of the
daily grind.” – Male, 2nd year
“It didn’t seem like a big enough deal and I wasn’t
confident anything could/would be done about it.”
– Female, 2nd year
“It was annoying, creepy, unwanted and
uncomfortable, but not threatening enough
to complain.” – Female, 5th year
Student Voices
11 A small percentage of male and female students say that they were not sure.
AAUW Educational Foundation 29
30 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
AAUW Educational Foundation 31
Female students are more likely to avoid their
harassers, find it hard to study or pay attention
in class, avoid particular buildings or places on
campus, or have trouble sleeping due to sexual
harassment. Female students are also more likely
to get someone to protect them.
LGBT students are especially likely to have
their educational experience disrupted by sexual
harassment. Among LGBT students who
encounter harassment at college, more than half
(60 percent) take steps to avoid the harasser,
about a quarter (24 percent) find it hard to study
or pay attention in class, and 14 percent have
participated less in class, skipped a class, or
dropped a course. Perhaps most troubling,
17 percent of LGBT students found their experi-
ence so upsetting that they thought about
changing schools, and 9 percent actually trans-
ferred to a different school. Because more than
70 percent of LGBT students encounter sexual
harassment at college, an estimated 6 percent of
all LGBT students either change their school or
their major as a result of sexual harassment.
Reporting Sexual Harassment
Given the strong reactions to sexual harassment,
we would expect students to report incidents, yet
most do not. More than one-third (35 percent)
tell no one. Almost half (49 percent) confide in
a friend, but only about 7 percent report the
incident to a college employee.
Female students are more likely than male
students to tell someone about sexual harassment,
although they, too, have reservations about
discussing their experiences (see Figure 10).
A common theme among female students is a
feeling of nervousness or discomfort at reporting
something that might not be “a big enough deal.”
One young woman describes an incident that
made her feel “horrible” and “helpless,” but
she didn’t report it because “it didn’t seem to
be that important.”
32 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
When I Told Someone About Sexual
Harassment, They Said ...
“It was wrong.” – Female, 4th year
“Stay away from the abuser.” – Female, 4th year
“Just be cool and deal with it.” – Male, 5th year
“They would look into it.” – Female, 4th year
“Helped me out and gave me advice on what to do
in that situation.” – Female, 4th year
“They talked to the individual and made the person
stop.” – Female, 2nd year
“She told me that you must report these instances
to the campus police, but I was scared to.”
– Female, 5th year
“Confront the person and ask them never to do it
again.” – Male, 3rd year
“I spoke to a therapist and from there I was able to
start coping with the situation.”
– Female, 3rd year
“They offered consolation and discussed the
situation with me a bit.” – Male, 5th year
“It was all in good fun. I even knew that. We just
laughed.” – Male, 1st year
“They validated my feelings and told me that
whatever choice I made they would support it.”
– Female, 5th year
“That I should report it.” – Female, 3rd year
“That it was a serious matter and they would
handle the situation. They advised me to stay
away from the offending persons.”
– Female, 4th year
“One said stay away from him—cut off all contact.
Others didn’t offer any suggestions just
sympathy.” – Female, 2nd year
“Friends and family urged me to tell a campus
police officer. The campus police officer
contacted the offending employee’s supervisor.”
– Female, 3rd year
Student Voices
The top reason for not reporting an incident is
that students believe it is not a big deal or it isn’t
serious. More than half of students (54 percent)
mention this. Male students are more likely than
female students to tell no one. LGBT students
(64 percent) are more likely than heterosexual
students (48 percent) to tell a friend. Black
students (16 percent) are more likely than white
students (9 percent) to tell someone other than a
friend, parent or family member, or any kind of
school employee. Black (51 percent) students are
more likely than Hispanic (38 percent) and white
students (38 percent) to complain to a college
employee if sexually harassed by a fellow student.
Institutional Responses to
Sexual Harassment
School Policies
Nearly all colleges and universities have
policies on sexual harassment, and most students
(79 percent) know this, with the remainder
saying they aren’t sure. More than half of college
students (60 percent) say their college distributes
written materials to students about sexual harass-
AAUW Educational Foundation 33
ment. A similar number (55 percent) are aware
of a designated person or office to contact at
their college if someone is the victim of sexual
harassment (see Figure 11). Most students who
report sexual harassment to a college employee
do not know if that person is a Title IX repre-
sentative (see Figure 12).
The size of the college seems to play a role in the
existence of policies and written materials on
sexual harassment. Students at larger colleges are
more likely to be aware of policies and written
materials. Students at institutions with 10,000
or more undergraduates are also more likely
(57 percent) than students at smaller colleges
(46 percent) to know of a designated person or
office to contact.
Beyond Brochures
College students are eager to offer advice on how
colleges can best address sexual harassment.
Three-quarters of students suggest at least one
way that their college can raise awareness about
and deal effectively with sexual harassment issues
and complaints. More than half (57 percent)
would like their college to offer a confidential,
web-based method for submitting complaints
about sexual harassment. Nearly half (47 percent)
suggest having a designated person or office to
contact if someone is a victim or providing infor-
mation about the school’s sexual harassment
policy on the college’s website.
The suggestion to designate a person or office to
deal with sexual harassment is particularly inter-
esting. Although by law colleges and universities
that receive federal funding must designate a
Title IX representative, only half of college
students (55 percent) say their college or univer-
sity has a designated office or person to contact.
Male and female students hold different opinions
about how and whether colleges and universities
should do more to raise awareness about sexual
harassment. More than one-third of male
students (36 percent) suggest their college do
nothing to raise awareness. In contrast, female
students are more likely than male students to
suggest the following:
Offer a confidential web-based method
for submitting complaints (66 percent
versus 46 percent)
Have a designated person or office to contact
if someone is a victim (55 percent versus
38 percent)
Provide information about the college’s sexual
harassment policy on the college’s website
(53 percent versus 40 percent)
There are also differences by race and ethnicity,
with white students (26 percent) more likely
than Hispanic (23 percent) and black students
(17 percent) to suggest that their college do
nothing more to address the issue of sexual
harassment.12 Black students (67 percent) and
Hispanic (63 percent) students, on the other
hand, are more likely than white students
(55 percent) to want their college to offer a
confidential, web-based method for submitting
complaints. Black students (55 percent) are
more likely than white students (47 percent) to
want their college to have a designated person
or office to contact if someone is a victim.
Very few students (2 percent) suggest that
colleges raise awareness through classes, semi-
nars, or workshops.
Students from public and private colleges differ
somewhat in how they would like to see their
colleges deal with and raise awareness of sexual
harassment. Public college students are more
34 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
12 Differences between Hispanic and either white or black students are not statistically significant.
likely than private college students to want their
college to offer a confidential web-based method
for submitting complaints (59 percent versus
51 percent) and to provide information about the
college’s sexual harassment policy on the website
(49 percent versus 41 percent). Private college
students (31 percent) are more likely than public
college students (23 percent) to suggest that their
college do nothing.
For those students who suggest
that their college do nothing more
to address sexual harassment, it is
unclear whether this is because they
do not see harassment as a serious
issue on their campus or because
they believe that their campus is
already adequately dealing with the
problem. Alternatively, some stu-
dents may simply be skeptical that
anything can be done.
Summary
Sexual harassment affects college
students in large and small ways.
Students who experience sexual
harassment feel more self-
conscious, angry, and afraid
and are less confident. For some
students daily activities such as
walking on campus, paying atten-
tion in class, or sleeping are diffi-
cult because of sexual harassment.
Occasionally the impact is so
severe that a student drops a class,
changes his or her major, or trans-
fers to a different college.
College students are deeply
divided in their reaction to
unwanted sexual conduct.
As might be expected, female
students are more negatively
affected than are male students by
sexual harassment. Female students are more
likely to talk to someone, usually a friend, about
sexual harassment. Yet a sizeable minority of
male students are negatively affected by their
encounters with sexual harassment as well.
Likewise, some female students are not especially
troubled by sexual harassment and are confident
that they can handle it on their own.
AAUW Educational Foundation 35
36 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
More than one-third of college students never
confide in anyone about their experience. At least
half of these students say they never told anyone
because their experiences were “nothing serious”
or “no big deal.”
College students have suggestions about what
colleges and universities should do to deal with
sexual harassment. The most common sugges-
tions are to offer a confidential, web-based
method for submitting complaints and to have
a designated person or office to contact about
sexual harassment. Female students are more
likely than male students to suggest these and
other strategies to combat sexual harassment.
Male students are more likely to say their college
should do nothing more.
The college experience is a critical time for young
adults to develop attitudes about appropriate
sexual conduct. In a culture marked with contra-
dictory messages about sexuality and sexually
aggressive behavior, it is no surprise that college
students have different reactions to sexual harass-
ment. As we conclude in the following chapter,
colleges and universities should be leaders in
helping students understand and promote
respectful and appropriate sexual behavior that
does not interfere with other students’ educa-
tional experiences.
Implications
4
38 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
ager to assert their adult independence,
college students want to view sexual harass-
ment as something they can prevent, avoid, or
manage on their own. Most do not report it or
even talk openly about it as a serious issue. Still,
sexual harassment is a familiar topic for college
students. Perhaps as their own test of bound-
aries, students joke about what is and isn’t
sexual harassment, sarcastically exclaiming,
“That’s sexual harassment” or “I’ll sue you for
sexual harassment.” Meanwhile, many of these
same students privately admit to being upset by
sexual harassment.
College students’ attitudes about sexual harass-
ment are a combination of uncertainty and
contradiction. Students recognize that lines are
being crossed, but they also know that these
lines are blurry and open to interpretation.
When is sexual harassment a joke and when is
it a problem? Who decides? These questions
confound students and others in the academic
community. Meanwhile, sexual harassment
“happens all the time,” is “just the way it is,” and
is “part of college life,” according to students.
How is the standard of appropriate behavior
determined on a college campus? At what point
does one student’s freedom of expression inter-
fere with another student’s access to education?
Colleges and universities face the difficult test
of promoting an atmosphere of free and
creative expression while also enforcing stan-
dards of behavior that result in a climate that
supports learning for all students. As it stands,
college students are struggling to understand
and determine these standards for themselves—
and often failing.
College students may be struggling to draw the
line on sexual harassment for several reasons.
First, the pervasiveness of sexual harassment on
campuses may diminish its perceived impor-
tance. Students may not want to get upset about
something that “happens so often it almost
feels normal.” Some students may assume that
the prevalence of sexual harassment is a sign
that other people think that it is okay, and these
students may prefer to ignore its negative
effects rather than be singled out as different.
Second, changes in traditional gender roles
further complicate the question of where to
draw the line. For young men, asserting and
exhibiting masculinity remains paramount. Be
a man! Don’t be a girl, a sissy, a fag. Yet college
women also find themselves in strange waters.
They, too, receive messages that they can and
should assert themselves sexually, but the
messages about how to do so are confusing.
Should they be sexually aggressive? If so, are
they to blame if they experience sexual harass-
ment? These young women second-guess their
actions (and inactions) and tend to sweep actual
incidences of sexual harassment under the rug.
Third, questions remain about the role of
sexual harassment as a precursor to more
violent forms of sexual aggression. Do we need
to draw the line on jokes and comments to
prevent more severe behaviors? If we tolerate
some behaviors, must we tolerate all? Is there
a relationship between some forms of sexual
humor and hostility toward female and LGBT
students? These questions must be addressed as
the relative silence of the campus community
sends the wrong message and implies approval
when, in fact, many students and educators may
be unaware of the extent of the problem or
unsure of how to tackle it.
Fourth, the line is not the same for everyone.
Variations are evident among individuals and
groups. For example, female and LGBT
students are more negatively affected. To a
lesser extent, differences also occur by race
and ethnicity. These differences raise the issue
of equity in education.
E
AAUW Educational Foundation 39
Sexual harassment on campus has serious impli-
cations for students. At the same time, a campus
culture that tolerates sexual harassment has impli-
cations that extend far beyond the campus
community. Attitudes and behaviors that are
established in college will find their way into all
aspects of society, from the workplace to the
courtroom to family life.
Dialogue is the first step toward drawing the line
on sexual harassment on campus. The point is
not merely to avoid lawsuits—although dialogue
on the issue should help to do this—but to foster
a climate on college campuses that supports
rather than stifles students’ emotional well-being
and intellectual growth.
Some important questions to consider for this
dialogue include the following:
Who is responsible for ensuring that this
dialogue occurs? Is it the students themselves,
college and university administrators, faculty, or
someone else?
How are college faculty and staff promoting a
culture of respect and fairness? Are they toler-
ating or even initiating sexual harassment?
Should there be different standards for
different places on campus? For example,
should there be special standards for student
housing, classrooms, or other areas?
How can colleges and universities help students
deal with sexual harassment before it reaches
the stage of a formal complaint?
How can colleges and universities raise aware-
ness of Title IX as a resource and a tool to stop
sexual harassment?
How can college students help each other deal
with contradictory messages about sexually
aggressive behavior?
How can colleges and universities proactively
seek information about the extent and nature
of the problem on their campus?
How can those outside the academic commu-
nity participate in these efforts?
Sexual harassment defies a simple solution but
demands action. It is unlikely to go away on its
own. Talking candidly about the problem—
seeking commonalities but acknowledging the
inevitable conflicts—is a necessary step toward
creating a harassment-free climate in which all
students can reach their full potential.
Appendix A: Methodology
42 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Overview
This report is based on an online survey commis-
sioned by the AAUW Educational Foundation
and conducted by Harris Interactive from May 5
to May 25, 2005. A large-panel-assembly method
was used, meaning that a stratified random
sample was selected from the Harris Poll Online,
a panel of several million individuals who opt to
participate in online surveys. Individuals were
sent password-protected e-mail invitations to
participate in a survey about college experiences.
Interviews were completed with 2,036 U.S. resi-
dents ages 18 to 24 who were enrolled in college
between January and May 2005. Online inter-
views averaged 17 minutes.
Population
The most recent census found that the popula-
tion of college students ages 18 to 24 residing in
the United States in 2000 was approximately nine
million—about one-third (34 percent) of the
27 million Americans in this age group (U.S.
Census Bureau, 2003, p. 9). About 4.9 million
college students were women and about
4.2 million were men. More than six million
(6.3 million) students identified themselves as
white non-Hispanic (non-Latino/Latina). About
one million black individuals and about 944,000
Hispanic individuals ages 18 to 24 were attending
college in 2000.
The National Center for Education Statistics esti-
mated that there were 13 million undergraduate
college students in 2000, rising to 14.8 million by
2005 (U.S. Department of Education, National
Center for Education Statistics, 2005). Assuming
that the proportion of undergraduates (69 percent)
who are between the ages of 18 and 24 does not
change between 2000 and 2005, we estimate the
population of undergraduate students in this age
group to be about 10 million in 2005. We expect
that a little more than half are female and a little
less than half are male.
Sample
E-mail invitations for this study were sent to a
stratified random sample of the Harris database
identified as students ages 18 to 24 residing in the
United States. Full-time and part-time students
were included. Respondents were enrolled in an
undergraduate program at a postsecondary
college or university between January and May
2005 and did not take most of their classes
online or by mail. Only current undergraduate
students and individuals who had graduated
within the past six months were included. The
sample included students enrolled in public and
private postsecondary schools, including institu-
tions offering two- and four-year degrees. For
example, students enrolled at a community
college were included in the survey; students
taking a class or classes in a nondegree program
were not included. The age range was limited
to facilitate analysis and does not reflect an
assumption that sexual harassment is confined
to this population.
Weighting of Data
Data were weighted to reflect the U.S. population
ages 18 to 24 who are current or recent college
students at either a two- or four-year college
according to demographic variables such as
gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, region, and
income. A post weight was also applied to adjust
qualified respondents to more accurately reflect
the proportions of male and female students
between the ages of 18 and 21 and the ages of
22 and 24. Demographic weights were based on
U.S. Census data obtained from the March 2004
Current Population Survey.
Exhibit 1 provides a comparison of the demo-
graphic profile of the weighted and unweighted
total sample.
AAUW Educational Foundation 43
Gender
Female 53 54
Male 47 46
Age
18–19 28 30
20–24 72 70
Age x Gender
Female 18–19 15 15
Female 20–24 39 39
Male 18–19 13 15
Male 20–24 33 31
Race/Ethnicity
Asian or Pacific Islander 4 3
Black/African American 8 17
Hispanic 8 16
Mixed racial background 4 3
Native American or
Alaskan Native * *
White 73 58
Other race 11
Declined to answer 2 2
Sexual Orientation
Bisexual 4 4
Gay 33
Heterosexual (straight) 89 90
Lesbian 1 1
Transgender **
Not sure 1 1
Other * *
Declined to answer 2 2
Household Income
Less than $50,000 28 50
$50,000–$99,999 25 18
More than $100,000 23 9
Declined to answer 25 23
Children in Household
0 66 67
1 or more 34 33
Marital Status
Divorced 1 1
Living with partner 3 3
Married 6 7
Single, never married 91 89
Separated * *
Widowed --
Employment Status (respondents could choose
more than one category)
Employed full time 16 19
Employed part time 40 40
Homemaker 22
Retired * *
Self-employed 2 2
Student 85 84
Not employed,
looking for work 9 9
Not employed,
not looking for work 1 1
Region
East 22 22
Midwest 24 25
South 30 31
West 24 22
Exhibit 1. Distribution of Sample of Students
Total Respondents: 2,036
% Unweighted
Sample
% Weighted
Sample
% Unweighted
Sample
% Weighted
Sample
* Less than 0.5 percent. - No one in the sample.
Sampling Error and
Statistical Significance
Like all surveys, this research is subject to
sampling error (the potential difference between
results obtained from the sample and those that
would have been obtained if the entire popula-
tion had participated). The size of the potential
sampling error varies with the number of people
answering the survey question and the size of the
difference expressed in the results. In other
words, for a difference to be “real,” it must be of
a certain size. For example, this research found
that 62 percent of students have experienced
sexual harassment at college and 38 percent of
students have not experienced it. The confidence
interval is +/-2, meaning that if we were to ask
this question 100 times to random groups of
college students ages 18 to 24, we would expect
that 95 times out of 100 between 60 and
64 percent of students would say they had expe-
rienced sexual harassment and between 36 and
40 percent of students would say that they have
not. All comparisons discussed in this report are
statistically significant at the 95 percent confi-
dence level unless otherwise indicated.
Use of Online Methodology
An online survey was selected as the best
methodology for this research for several
reasons. First, research suggests that Internet
surveys—specifically those using the large panel
method—appear to be as reliable as telephone
surveys (Berrens, Bohara, Jenkins-Smith, Silva,
and Weimer, 2003). For the past 30 years, most
surveys have been conducted by telephone, but
this method has become increasingly difficult as
telemarketing, solicitations for charities, and
“push polls” compete with social scientists for
the declining number of people willing to
participate in phone surveys. Cellular telephones
present another challenge as an increasingly
large number of people, particularly college
students, are disconnecting from the land-line
system altogether.
Second, college students are more likely than the
general population to have access to computers
and the Internet and more likely to use them
often. According to research by the Pew Internet
& American Life Project (Jones, 2002), the vast
majority of college students use the Internet for
both research and entertainment. At the same
time that college students are particularly difficult
to reach by phone, they are especially easy to
reach via the Internet.
Finally, the case for an online methodology was
especially strong for this project because of its
subject matter. Sexual harassment is a sensitive
and personal topic. Some students may feel
embarrassed to talk about these issues. As
Chapter 3 reveals, a sizeable number of students
—especially male students—have never discussed
their sexual harassment experience with anyone,
even a friend. An online format where questions
are presented on the screen rather than asked in
person is also preferable because the gender of
the interviewer is not apparent.
Use of Language
Careful attention should be paid to the language
used in the survey and in this report. For the
exact wording of the questions, see the survey
questionnaire at www.aauw.org/research. The
survey included a standard definition and a list of
15 behaviors that could be considered sexual
harassment if they are unwanted (see Page 6).
The survey specifies that we are discussing sexual
harassment in the context of the educational
environment. Respondents are reminded at
several points during the survey to consider
only those experiences from “college-related
events or activities.” Sexual harassment outside
of the college context is not the subject of
this report.
At some places in this report, we delineate
between contact and noncontact forms of
harassment, with examples one through seven
44 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
AAUW Educational Foundation 45
in the questionnaire defined as noncontact and
eight through 15 defined as contact. This is a
point of analysis; no such distinction was made
in the survey itself. The examples of these forms
of harassment were grouped together but not
differentiated as contact or noncontact to
the respondent.
It should not be assumed that the impact of
sexual harassment involving physical contact is
necessarily “more severe” than the impact of
nonphysical harassment. For example, unwanted
sexual comments from a respected professor or
a trusted friend could be more damaging for
some students than being grabbed in a sexual
way by a stranger. Because the examples listed
begin with sexual comments and jokes and end
with forced sexual activity, however, students
may have assumed that this order represented
a severity ranking. The list of behaviors was
not rotated, and hence results may reflect a
perception of a ranking.
Comparison With 2001 AAUW
Report on Sexual Harassment
Among K–12 Students
The survey instrument used in this research is
based on the survey used for Hostile Hallways:
Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School
(2001), AAUW’s report on sexual harassment
among middle and high school students. Some
changes were made to address updated tech-
nology usage (e.g., posting messages, instant
messaging) or to address the age differences
between college and younger students.
The methodology used in the two reports differs.
Specifically, the survey for this report was
conducted online, while the survey used in 2001
for Hostile Hallways included an in-class as well as
an online component. Another difference is the
time frame referenced. High school and middle
school students were asked to think about their
entire K–12 educational experience, which
could mean experiences accumulated throughout
12 years for an 11th-grade student. The number
of years considered by college students ages
18 to 24 would be fewer.
Appendix B: Selected Resources
48 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
ew national resources are dedicated solely to
the issue of sexual harassment in higher
education. This list, therefore, also includes
organizations that aim to prevent sexual assault
and sexual violence. A comprehensive collection
of publications and practical resources on sexual
harassment for college administrators, faculty, and
students is available at www.bernicesandler.com.
The web addresses included below were current
as of November 22, 2005.
Selected Organizations
American Association of University Women
www.aauw.org
With its nationwide network of more than
100,000 members and 1,300 branches, AAUW
has been a leading advocate for equity for women
and girls since 1881. The AAUW Educational
Foundation, a nonprofit organization, plays a
vital role in supporting gender equity for women
and girls through research, fellowships and
grants, special awards, and assistance to individ-
uals challenging sex discrimination in higher
education. AAUW’s research and related program
promotes a climate free from gender bias and
sexual harassment at every level of education.
Feminist Majority Foundation
www.feminist.org/911/harass.html
The Feminist Majority Foundation is a member-
ship-based organization committed to achieving
political, economic, and social equality for
women. It provides information about current
legislation concerning equity issues in education,
a list of national and state hotline numbers for
sexual harassment and sexual assault, and links to
websites about sexual harassment in schools and
the workplace.
Men Can Stop Rape
www.mencanstoprape.org
Men Can Stop Rape empowers male youth
and the institutions that serve them to work as
allies with women in preventing rape and other
forms of men’s violence. The organization
offers workshops and training for college
students on preventing sexual harassment and
assault on campus.
National Center on Domestic and
Sexual Violence
www.ncdsv.org
The National Center on Domestic and Sexual
Violence trains and consults with organizations
on domestic and sexual violence. It also has
resources for individuals, including 24-hour
hotlines for those in immediate danger.
National Coalition of
Anti-Violence Programs
www.avp.org/ncavp.htm
NCAVP is a coalition of more than 20 lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender victim advocacy
and documentation programs located throughout
the United States. The website includes reports
on hate crimes and domestic violence.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
www.thetaskforce.org
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds
grassroots political strength by training state and
local activists and leaders and organizing broad-
based campaigns to defeat anti-lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender referenda and advance
pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender legisla-
tion. Its website provides resources and publica-
tions on campus climate and campus organizing.
F
AAUW Educational Foundation 49
National Women’s Law Center
www.nwlc.org
The National Women’s Law Center is a nonprofit
legal advocacy organization dedicated to the
advancement and protection of women’s rights
and the elimination of sex discrimination from
all facets of life. Its website provides information
on Title IX.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
www.rainn.org
RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault
organization, operates the National Sexual
Assault Hotline at 800/656-HOPE. RAINN
carries out programs to prevent sexual assault,
help victims, and ensure that rapists are brought
to justice. Its website provides contact informa-
tion for local rape crisis centers and state coali-
tions against sexual assault.
Security on Campus Inc.
www.securityoncampus.org
Security On Campus Inc. is a grassroots organi-
zation dedicated to safe campuses for college and
university students.
Sexual Harassment Support Forum
www.sexualharassmentsupport.org
This forum focuses on the effects of sexual
harassment from the victim’s point of view.
Information on all different types of harassment,
from personal stories of victims to statistics on
stalking, is available.
Federal Resources
Federal law protects your right to learn and work
in a safe environment free from harassment. The
U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of
Justice, and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission play a role in protecting these rights
and ensuring safe and harassment-free schools
and workplaces.
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr
The Office for Civil Rights is charged with
enforcing compliance with Title IX, which
prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex,
including sexual harassment, at educational
institutions that receive federal funding (and
nearly all do). OCR requires that these educa-
tional institutions designate one or more
employees—administrators, coaches, teachers,
guidance counselors, or other school
employees—as Title IX coordinators. If you
have trouble finding the Title IX coordinator
at your school, contact a regional OCR office
(listed below). OCR provides sexual harassment
resources at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/
ocr/sexharassresources.html.
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
www.usdoj.gov/crt
The Civil Rights Division is responsible for
enforcing federal statutes prohibiting discrimina-
tion on the basis of race, sex, handicap, religion,
and national origin. Its Educational Opportunities
Section (www.usdoj.gov/crt/edo/overview.htm)
covers legal issues involving elementary and
secondary schools and institutions of higher
education, including initiating enforcement activi-
ties under Title IX of the Education Amendments
of 1972 when a referral is received from the U.S.
Department of Education. The Coordination
and Review Section (www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/
coord/titleix.htm) provides technical and legal
assistance to ensure that federal agencies are
effectively enforcing various statutes that prohibit
discrimination, including Title IX.
50 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
U.S. Department of Justice,
Office on Violence Against Women
www.usdoj.gov/ovw
The Office on Violence Against Women handles
legal and policy issues regarding violence against
women and provides resources and publications
on sexual violence.
U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission
www.eeoc.gov
People who experience harassment while working
on campus should contact the EEOC. Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits
employment discrimination based on race, color,
religion, sex, and national origin. Under Title VII,
just like Title IX, sexual harassment is prohibited
as a form of sex discrimination. EEOC is
responsible for handling charges of discrimina-
tion filed against employers.
Regional Offices of the
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
This information was retrieved October 18, 2005,
from www.ed.gov/about/ offices/list/ocr/.
National Office
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
550 12th St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Telephone: 800/421-3481
Fax: 202/245-6840
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR@ed.gov
Atlanta Office
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
61 Forsyth St. S.W., Ste. 19T70
Atlanta, GA 30303-3104
Telephone: 404/562-6350
Fax: 404/562-6455
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.Atlanta@ed.gov
Boston Office
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, Vermont
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
33 Arch St., Ste. 900
Boston, MA 02110-1491
Telephone: 617/289-0111
Fax: 617/289-0150
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.Boston@ed.gov
Chicago Office
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota,
Wisconsin
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
111 N. Canal St., Ste. 1053
Chicago, IL 60606-7204
Telephone: 312/886-8434
Fax: 312/353-4888
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.Chicago@ed.gov
Cleveland Office
Michigan, Ohio
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
600 Superior Ave. East, Ste. 750
Cleveland, OH 44114-2611
Telephone: 216/522-4970
Fax: 216/522-2573
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.Cleveland@ed.gov
Dallas Office
Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
1999 Bryan St., Ste. 2600
Dallas, TX 75201-6810
Telephone: 214/661-9600
Fax: 214/661-9587
TDD: 877/521-2172
Email: OCR.Dallas@ed.gov
AAUW Educational Foundation 51
Denver Office
Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
Federal Bldg.
1244 Speer Blvd., Ste. 310
Denver, CO 80204-3582
Telephone: 303/844-5695
Fax: 303/844-4303
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.Denver@ed.gov
District of Columbia Office
North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, DC
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
1100 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Rm. 316
P.O. Box 14620
Washington, DC 20044-4620
Telephone: 202/208-2545
Fax: 202/208-7797
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.DC@ed.gov
Kansas City Office
Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
8930 Ward Pkwy, Ste. 2037
Kansas City, MO 64114-3302
Telephone: 816/268-0550
Fax: 816/823-1404
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.KansasCity@ed.gov
New York Office
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
32 Old Slip, 26th Fl.
New York, NY 10005-2500
Telephone: 646/428-3900
Fax: 646/428-3890
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.NewYork@ed.gov
Philadelphia Office
Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
West Virginia
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
100 Penn Square East, Ste. 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323
Telephone: 215/656-8541
Fax: 215/656-8605
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR_Philadelphia@ed.gov
San Francisco Office
California
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
Old Federal Bldg.
50 United Nations Plaza, Rm. 239
San Francisco, CA 94102-4102
Telephone: 415/556-4275
Fax: 415/437-7783
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.SanFrancisco@ed.gov
Seattle Office
Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon,
Washington, Pacific Islands
U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights
915 2nd Ave., Rm. 3310
Seattle, WA 98174-1099
Telephone: 206/220-7900
Fax: 206/220-7887
TDD: 877/521-2172
E-mail: OCR.Seattle@ed.gov
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56 Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
Beyond the “Gender Wars”: A Conversation
About Girls, Boys, and Education
AS49 n60 pages/2001 n$9.95
Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment
on Campus
AS58 n58 pages/2005 n$12.00
Gaining a Foothold: Women’s Transitions
Through Work and College
AS37 n100 pages/1999 n$6.49
Gains in Learning, Gaps in Earnings
2005 nwww.aauw.org/research
Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail
Our Children
AS35 nReport n150 pages/1998 n$6.99
AS36 nExecutive Summary n24 pages/1998 n$3.99
Girls in the Middle: Working to Succeed
in School
AS29 n128 pages/1996 n$7.49
Growing Smart: What’s Working for
Girls in School
AS26 nReport n97 pages/1995 n$14.50
AS25 nSummary/Action Guide n48 pages/1995 n$6.49
Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual
Harassment in School (2001)
AS50 n56 pages/2001 n$9.95
Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual
Harassment in America’s Schools (1993)
AS17 n28 pages/1993 n$5.99
How Schools Shortchange Girls:
The AAUW Report
AS22 nReportn224 pages/Marlowe, 1995 n$6.49
AS14 nExecutive Summary n8 pages/1992 n$2.50
A License for Bias: Sex Discrimination, Schools,
and Title IX
AS48 n84 pages/AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund, 2000 n$12.95
SchoolGirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and
the Confidence Gap
AS27 n384 pages/Doubleday, 1994 n$12.95
Separated by Sex: A Critical Look at Single-Sex
Education for Girls
AS34 n99 pages/1998 n$12.95
Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America
Executive Summary
AS20 n20 pages/AAUW, 1994 n$5.99
¡Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can: Latinas in School
AS46 (English) n84 pages/2001 n$12.95
AS47 (Spanish) n90 pages/2001 n$12.95
Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the
New Computer Age
AS45 n84 pages/2000 n$12.95
Tenure Denied: Cases of Sex Discrimination
in Academia
EF003 n105 pages/2004 n$10.00
The Third Shift: Women Learning Online
AS51 n80 pages/2001 n$9.95
Under the Microscope: A Decade of Gender
Equity Projects in the Sciences
EF002 n40 pages/2004 n$12.00
Voices of a Generation: Teenage Girls on
Sex, School, and Self
AS39 n95 pages/1999 n$7.50
Women at Work
AS55 nReport n56 pages/2003 n$15.95
AS56 nAction Guide n20 pages/2003 n$6.95
AS57 nSet (Report and Action Guide) n$19.95
To order reports, call 800/225-9998 or visit www.aauw.org
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This first-rate report reminds us that sexual harassment is not
confined to K–12 public schools and is a critical issue for colleges. College students
are still forming their beliefs about sexual behavior, and if sexual harassment is
ignored by colleges, students will take negative attitudes and behaviors into their
adulthood and the workplace. Drawing the Line should be required
reading for those who care about our students.
Bernice Sandler,Senior Scholar,
Women’s Research and Education Institute
Iapplaud AAUW for its ongoing commitment to exposing the issues surrounding
sexual harassment on college and university campuses. This publication presents the most
recent national data on sexual harassment on campus and acknowledges that the ramifications
are serious and extensive. It is an excellent report on the unfortunate climate for collegiate
women and men in this country and warrants your most careful review and action.
Gregory Roberts,Executive Director,
ACPA–College Student Educators International
Drawing the Line indicates that more than one-third of college students who
are sexually harassed do not tell anyone about their experience. Yet students report
the adverse physical and emotional impact of the experience up to and including
leaving school. The implication is clear. This report is a call for action for student
affairs educators, administrators, and faculty to facilitate campus dialogues on
the important question raised in this timely report: ‘At what point does one student’s
freedom of expression interfere with another student’s access to education?’
Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy,Executive Director,
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators
1111 Sixteenth St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone 202/728-7602
Fax 202/463-7169
TDD 202/785-7777
foundation@aauw.org
www.aauw.org
... Students who are subjected to bullying or other forms of harassment often suffer academically, with lower levels of satisfaction, a negative impression of the teacher, less effort, and lower grades as a result (Rosenthal et al., 2016). The post-harassment tactics also affect the cultural, sexual, racial, and ethnic milieu (Hill & Silva, 2005). When asked whether they avoided harassment, 48 percent of women responded "no," but 27 percent said they avoided particular buildings, and 9 percent claimed they floated or dropped out of sight, while 26 percent of males, 11 percent of men, and 4% of women stated the same thing (Hill & Silva, 2005). ...
... The post-harassment tactics also affect the cultural, sexual, racial, and ethnic milieu (Hill & Silva, 2005). When asked whether they avoided harassment, 48 percent of women responded "no," but 27 percent said they avoided particular buildings, and 9 percent claimed they floated or dropped out of sight, while 26 percent of males, 11 percent of men, and 4% of women stated the same thing (Hill & Silva, 2005). Students may choose to further disrupt the educational experience by taking measures to safeguard themselves, such as dropping out, changing advisors, changing majors, skipping classes, and dropping out altogether (Huerta et al., 2006). ...
... Female students are more likely to be harassed by both their peers and teachers. Hill and Silva (2005) and Silverschanz et al. (2005) are examples of this (2007). Individuals who are harassed by heterosexuals are much more likely to be suffering from despair, anxiety, alcoholism, and poor physical health than the general population, according to research (Woodford, Kulick, & Atteberry, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
When it comes to sexual harassment, it is defined as any sort of sexual harassment or manipulation and the unwelcome or improper offering of monetary remuneration in return for sexual favors. The impacts of sexual harassment on the students' academic performance with hearing impairment were explored in this study, which looked at teachers' impressions of the consequences. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to investigate special education teachers' impressions of the incidence of sexual harassment and the consequences of such harassment on the performance of students with hearing impairment. The data for this study was gathered through the use of a questionnaire. Several types of statistics were employed to address the study questions, including descriptive and inferential statistics. According to the findings of the data analysis, sexual harassment is a frequent practice in special academic institutions for children with hearing impairments, and sexual harassment has a negative impact on the academic performance of students with hearing impairments.
... Sexual victimization, the most widely studied unwanted sexual experience, involves a range of nonconsensual sexual activity (i.e., touching to rape) and has been found to impact 20-25% of college women (Fedina et al., 2018). At the lower end of the severity spectrum is unwanted sexual attention (i.e., persistent or unreciprocated sexual comments, gestures, or requests), which is reported by well over one third of first year college women (41%; Hill & Silva, 2005). Unwanted sexual experiences are typically perpetrated by male friends or casual acquaintances and often occur when drinking and in social contexts Sinozich & Langton, 2014). ...
... Despite these efforts, rape supportive attitudes and beliefs persist as the dominant discourse in our culture and college campuses are not immune to these larger cultural influences. Consistent with previous studies (Fedina et al., 2018;Hill & Silva, 2005), unwanted sexual attention and sexual touching were common in the college context. These incidents often involved alcohol, consistent with the notion that perpetrators may target intoxicated women (Davis et al., 2015). ...
... Unwanted sexual attention and sexual touching are common in the college context (Fedina et al., 2018;Hill & Silva, 2005;Humphrey & White, 2000). Although active intervention strategies (e.g., interrupting escalating situations) were salient in prior focus groups (Blayney et al., 2021b), the present study indicates these strategies may be rare in practice and instead involve largely passive approaches (e.g., staying together). ...
Article
Full-text available
Risk for unwanted sexual experiences can emerge in social contexts—the same contexts that early college women navigate with their friends. Though friends naturally engage in prevention strategies, less is known about how capable guardianship influences risk. Using multilevel structural equation modeling, the present study examined guardianship at the person- and situation-level. First year college women ( N = 132) completed eight weekends of daily surveys. We examined whether guardianship (e.g., more friends present, greater proportion of female friends, no intoxicated friends) would reduce unwanted sexual experience risk and if this relation was mediated by friends-based strategy use. An alternative model was also tested with the same predictors, but unwanted sexual experiences as the mediator and friends-based strategy use as the outcome. Over half (58%) of extended weekend nights with friends involved drinking or using drugs. Friends-based strategies were used on 29% of nights. Across models, being with one or more intoxicated friends was associated with friends-based strategy use and an unwanted sexual experience, but only at the situation-level. Parents, educators, and policy makers can encourage college women to draw on their social networks to enhance safety. Interventions could incorporate more universal strategies for responding to risk in social contexts.
... Along with working and professional woman, sexual harassment to the schoolgirls was also found severe throughout the world and it has been reported at the school level and was found in late elementary school, peaks in early adolescence, and tapers off in high school (Pepleret et.al., 2006;Petersen & Hyde, 2009). The USA again revealed that 83% of girl students in the 8-11 grades were sexually harassed and 38 percent of them were sexually harassed by teachers or school employees in America (Hill & Silva, 2005). Witkowka (2005) reported a similar situation where 50% of a sample of 714 girls in grades 9 and 11 reported experience of some form of sexual harassment in schools in Sweden. ...
... Moreover, various types of persons have been found involved in sexual harassment which includes friends, teachers, co-workers, seniors, visitors, strangers, and family members (Gyawali et. al., 2012;Hill & Kearl, 2011;Hill & Silva, 2005;Hongkong Education Institute, 2013;Misra & Lamichane, 2018;Neupane & Chesney-Lind, 2013;Plan International 2008;Shrestha, 2012). ...
... Among them, it was found that 39% of the girl students were sexually harassed by a classmate and senior students which were followed by teachers (21%). A similar result of sexual harassment from the teachers also reported by Hill and Silva (2005) revealed that 83% of the girl students in the 8-11 graders were sexually harassed and 38% of them were sexually harassed by teachers and school employees in America. Plan (2008) also reported the higher involvement of teachers and axillary staff on sexual harassment in Africa. ...
Article
Objectives: The aim of the study was to explore the situation of sexual harassment among the adolescent girl students in Rupandehi district of Nepal. Method: Concurrent mix method was applied in the study. Total 402 adolescent school girls were selected for quantitative study. Five focus group discussion (FGD), four key informant information (KII) and seven in-depth interviews (IDI) were carried out for qualitative study. The quantitative data were analyzed in IBM SPSS 20. The qualitative data were transcribed manually and triangulated with quantitate data. Results: Higher prevalence (89%) of sexual harassment have been found in the studied group. The verbal types of harassments were most common (68.5%) among the victim. Conclusion: Sexual harassment was a common on the girl students at Rupandehi district and they were suffering from different types of sexual harassment. Among the different level of sexual harassment, less severe types of sexual harassments were more common than moderate severe level and most severe types of sexual harassments
... In England, 20-60% of the LGBTQ university community have perceived some type of violence (Bachmann & Gooch, 2018). In large part, the invisibility of this violence is due to the fear of reporting, because of the variety of difficulties it entails: social discouragement, minimization of what happened, doubt of veracity, bureaucratization, emotional paralysis/shame, inanition, lack of commitment and a hierarchical and masculinized structure (Bachmann & Gooch, 2018;Hill & Silva, 2005;Mingo & Moreno, 2017). ...
... And it is not surprising that 'celebrity' is taken into account when deciding what to study. This celebrity is a determining factor for LGBTQ students when opting for certain degrees (Hill & Silva, 2005). Not accidental celebrity, based on reported violence (Atherton et al., 2016), results in the abandonment of STEM careers (Hughes, 2018). ...
... En Inglaterra, entre el 20-60% de la comunidad universitaria ha percibido algún tipo de violencia (Bachmann & Gooch, 2018). En gran parte, la invisibilidad de estas violencias se debe al miedo a denunciar por las diferentes dificultades que entraña: el desaliento social, la minimización de lo ocurrido, la duda de la veracidad, la burocratización, la parálisis/vergüenza emocional, la inanición, la falta de compromiso y la estructura jerarquizada y masculinizada (Bachmann & Gooch, 2018;Hill & Silva, 2005;Mingo & Moreno, 2017). ...
Article
ABSTRACT This article provides evidence on the reliability and validity of the Spanish adaptation of the Ally Identity Measure (AIM). This instrument is believed to be useful for psychosocial professionals and educational trainees to analyse the degree of commitment and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) people. The sample of this study comprised 223 heterosexual psychology students who participated by completing the Spanish adaptation of the instrument. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed to study its fit to the factor structure of the original scale (knowledge and skills, openness and support, and awareness of oppression). The internal consistency of the subscales was adequate (.85 – .86). Convergent validity showed significant correlations and predictive levels with different attitudinal and socio-demographic variables. We have concluded that the AIM is an accurate instrument to assess allied attitudes towards the LGBQ community. RESUMEN En el artículo se proporciona evidencia sobre la fiabilidad y validez de la adaptación al español de la Medida de Identificación Aliada (MIA). Este instrumento se considera útil para conocer el grado de compromiso y apoyo con las personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y queer (LGBQ) entre profesionales psicosociales y educativos en formación. 223 estudiantes de psicología heterosexuales participaron completando la adaptación al español del instrumento. Se realizó un análisis factorial confirmatorio para estudiar su ajuste a la estructura factorial de la escala original (conocimientos y aptitudes, apertura y apoyo y conciencia de la opresión). La consistencia interna de las subescalas fue adecuada (.81 – .86). La validez convergente mostró correlaciones y niveles predictivos significativos con diferentes variables actitudinales y sociodemográficas. En conclusión, MIA resulta un instrumento preciso para evaluar las actitudes aliadas con lo LGBQ.
... In this study, the most common nonconsensual sexual experiences were sexual attention and touching. Consistent with other work, these lower severity experiences are prevalent in the college context (Fedina et al., 2018;Hill & Silva, 2005;Humphrey & White, 2000), especially in social drinking settings (Graham et al., 2014). In line with the larger sexual victimization literature (e.g., Abbey, 2002), these incidents were perpetrated almost exclusively by men and occurred frequently in social contexts (i.e., parties), but also in private spaces where more intimate exchanges typically occur (e.g., dorm rooms, apartments). ...
... Still, these findings may offer new avenues for future studies. Building on sexual victimization research, this study included unwanted sexual attention and supports past work revealing how common this is in the college context (Fedina et al., 2018;Hill & Silva, 2005;Humphrey & White, 2000). Further research on lower severity victimization is needed, including under what circumstances these incidents serve as precursors to more severe victimization. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Nonconsensual sexual experiences are common in college and freshmen year represents a high-risk time. Social contexts have been linked to nonconsensual sexual experiences, though it is unclear how or why these contexts confer risk. Routine Activity Theories posit that risk increases in contexts where there are potential perpetrators, vulnerable targets, and a lack of capable guardians. A small literature has applied Routine Activity Theories to college women’s nonconsensual sexual experiences, with a focus on between-person differences. The present study sought to expand this work by examining both between- and within-person variation in contextual risk as predictors of nonconsensual sexual experiences over time. Method: First year college women who drink alcohol (N = 132) participated in a lab session and eight weeks of daily weekend surveys. Results: On nights where nonconsensual sexual experiences occurred, unwanted sexual attention and touching were common. Perpetrators were typically strangers or casual acquaintances and most incidents involved parties and alcohol. Both between- and within-person variation in contextual risk increased nonconsensual sexual experiences. Greater between-person differences in exposure to potential perpetrators, but not target vulnerability or lack of capable guardians, increased these odds during the study. Further, nights where first year college women reported more exposure to potential perpetrators and more target vulnerability than usual were associated with greater odds that night. Conclusions: Results illustrate how risk can accumulate in weekend social contexts and suggest that interventions could include targeted approaches for high risk individuals, but also more universal approaches for high risk contexts.
... V roku 2005 realizovala Asociácia amerických univerzitných žien online prieskum, ktorý svoje otázky sústredil na skúsenosti so sexuálnym obťažovaním (Hill, Silva, 2005 ...
Book
Full-text available
Správa z výskumu – Sexuálne obťažovanie na vysokých školách predstavuje výsledky reprezentatívneho celoslovenského kvantitatívneho prieskumu sexuálneho obťažovania medzi študentkami a študentmi denného štúdia na Slovensku. Výsledky výskumu poukazujú nie len na mieru prevalencie obťažovania, ale poskytujú aj informácie o tom, komu sa študentky a študenti s touto skúsenosťou zdôverujú a čo si o sexuálnom obťažovaní myslia. Interaktívna HTML verzia: https://iropovik.github.io/sexualneObtazovanieVS
... Isso reduz o tempo disponível para as pesquisas, dificultando as publicações e o avanço, prestígio e reconhecimento na carreira (Santos, 2016). Outras questões associadas à não-permanência das mulheres em STEM são ausência de incentivo escolar, o assédio sexual no trabalho e a discriminação sexual (Amorin, Dantas, & Carvalho, 2017;Hill & Silva, 2005;Santos, 2016;Sandler, 2005). Todavia, ainda são raras as discussões que identificam as variáveis que efetivamente favorecem a permanência das mulheres na graduação e carreiras majoritariamente masculinas. ...
Article
Full-text available
Women that pursue careers in STEM have been statistically belittled in both the labor market and academia. Phenomena that help explain such a scenario are so-called "scissor effect," "glass ceiling," and "leaky pipeline," which address how women face obstacles that hamper their permanence in STEM, as well as their rise to power positions. Considering these issues, this article is a theoretical study that maps and discusses strategies that may contribute to increase the permanence and rise of women in STEM. We conclude that such strategies include initial actions within schools in childhood and adolescence, as well as in adulthood, concerning higher education, work environments and the construction of women's self-concept.
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Objetivo: En la presente investigación se determina la prevalencia de la violencia contra las mujeres basada en el género (VcM) en las universidades de Ecuador, se identifican las mejores prácticas y el estado de las investigaciones en materia de prevención de la violencia contra las mujeres en las instituciones de educación superior en el mundo, y se propone un modelo de prevención integral de la VcM en las universidades. Método: El diagnóstico se realizó mediante un diseño descriptivo-explicativo, sobre la base de datos observacionales (encuestas) y relaciones de variables, acorde a un modelo teórico. Los datos provienen de encuestas a 23.261 estudiantes y 4.064 docentes y personal administrativo de las principales escuelas profesionales de 16 universidades con 22 sedes o campus universitarios en Ecuador. Resultados: En Ecuador, 1 de cada 3 estudiantes universitarias reporta haber sido agredida alguna vez por su pareja o expareja, desde que está en la universidad. Considerando solo los últimos 12 meses, 1 de cada 5 estudiantes ha sido agredida por sus parejas o exparejas, un promedio de 18 veces. Se ha encontrado también que 1 de cada 3 estudiantes mujeres ha sido agredida por otros integrantes de la comunidad universitaria, 10 veces promedio en el último año. Docentes y personal administrativo también reportan haber sido agredidas por sus parejas u otros integrantes de la comunidad universitaria. Como consecuencia, días de productividad académica son perdidos debido a la VcM. Se ha encontrado que las estudiantes pierden 11 días al año cuando son agredidas por sus parejas y casi 13 días cuando son agredidas por otros integrantes de la comunidad universitaria. La pérdida es mucho mayor cuando sufren, al mismo tiempo, ambos tipos de VcM, llegando a casi 29 días perdidos al año. Los agresores también pierden días de productividad académica y laboral. Se han encontrado diversos factores personales (actitudes y aceptación de la violencia) y contextuales asociados a la alta prevalencia de la violencia contra las mujeres. Costos: Considerando los costos indirectos de estudiantes y docentes, se ha encontrado que las universidades de Ecuador asumen 68.833.079 USD en costos indirectos al año, valor monetario de 3.664.409 días perdidos de 252.429 estudiantes y docentes afectad*s por la violencia contra las mujeres. Este monto equivale al 3,13% del presupuesto nacional universitario. Propuesta: La revisión sistemática demuestra que las acciones de prevención en la educación superior, a nivel mundial, son aún incipientes y fragmentadas, con poca evidencia de efectividad. Se propone, al respecto, un modelo integral de prevención de la violencia contra las mujeres basado en la cadena de valor de las universidades.
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: To determine the nature and frequency of the exposure of female students to sexual harassment at the higher educational institutes; and also to explore the adverse effects of sexual harassment on the victims and coping strategies implied by them.
Article
Attention to sexual misconduct has focused on acquaintance rape, leaving a need for research on less highly recognizable forms of harm. We estimated institution of higher education (IHE)-specific prevalence of yellow zone sexual harassment (SH) among students at 27 IHEs. We then examined SH and perceived risk of sexual assault/ misconduct, knowledge regarding policies/resources, and perceptions of sexual misconduct response. Between 37.1% and 55.7% of students experienced SH. Harassed students were much more likely than non-harassed students to feel at risk for sexual misconduct and to have negative views of sexual misconduct response. Implications for research, policy, and prevention/response are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
The Internet offers a number of advantages as a survey mode: low marginal cost per completed response, capabilities for providing respondents with large quantities of information, speed, and elimination of interviewer bias. Those seeking these advantages confront the problem of representativeness both in terms of coverage of the population and capabilities for drawing random samples. Two major strategies have been pursued commercially to develop the Internet as a survey mode. One strategy, used by Harris Interactive, involves assembling a large panel of willing respondents who can be sampled. Another strategy, used by Knowledge Networks, involves using random digit dialing (RDD) telephone methods to recruit households to a panel of Web-TV enabled respondents. Do these panels adequately deal with the problem of representativeness to be useful in political science research? The authors address this question with results from parallel surveys on global climate change and the Kyoto Protocol administered by telephone to a national probability sample and by Internet to samples of the Harris Interactive and Knowledge Networks panels. Knowledge and opinion questions generally show statistically significant but substantively modest difference across the modes. With inclusion of standard demographic controls, typical relational models of interest to political scientists produce similar estimates of parameters across modes. It thus appears that, with appropriate weighting, samples from these panels are sufficiently representative of the U.S. population to be reasonable alternatives in many applications to samples gathered through RDD telephone surveys.
Article
This study assessed sexual harassment in a university that has a published policy regarding sexual harassment. Between 19 and 43 percent of female staff, faculty, administrators, and students had experienced sexual harassment. Employees often reported other employees, undergraduates most often reported other students, and graduate students generally reported faculty men as perpetrators.
Article
Colleges and universities are expected to provide safe and appropriate learning and working environments, including freedom from sexual harassment. Unfortunately, the frequency of complaints on college and university campuses has increased. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination and is prohibited by federal laws. This behavior interferes with a student's or employee's performance by producing a hostile working or learning environment. It can manifest itself as gender harassment; unwanted seductive behavior; sexual bribery and coercion; and sexual assault, including attempted rape and rape. Research shows that between 20 and 30 percent of undergraduate female students are victims of some form of sexual harassment by at least one of their professors during their undergraduate years. Additionally, 60 percent of presidents of large research and doctorate institutions believed sexual harassment to be a problem. The most important steps institutions can take to eliminate sexual harassment are to: (1) carefully draft definitions of sexual harassment; (2) provide accessible grievance procedures; and (3) provide education about the nature of this type of behavior to educate the campus community. These steps represent the best practices that institutions have developed after more than a decade of aggressive response to the problem. (Contains approximately 130 references and an index.) (GLR)
Article
Surveyed 464 female members of Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) of the American Psychological Association to examine (a) their experiences, during graduate training, of sexual intimacy with and sexual advances from psychology educators and (b) their past and current perceptions and evaluations of these experiences in terms of coercion, ethicality, and impact on the professional working relationship. Results indicate that sexual contact was prevalent overall (17%), among recent doctoral recipients (22%), and among Ss divorcing or separating during graduate training (34%). On the average, evaluations at the time of contact were neutral, but current opinions were more negative; many currently perceived the contact as exploitive and harmful. Sexual advances were reported by 31% and were judged by most to be overwhelmingly negative. Almost all respondents judged sexual contact between an educator and a student during a working relationship as unethical. (7 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Educator sexual misconduct: A synthesis of existing literature
U.S. Department of Education. Office of the Under Secretary. (2004). Educator sexual misconduct: A synthesis of existing literature, by Charol Shakeshaft (Doc #2004-09). Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved October 25, 2005, from www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/ misconductreview/report.pdf.