Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious and widespread form of sexual victimization that until recently has been largely ignored. Anecdotal accounts, clinical reports and some survey data have tentatively linked harassment to a variety of negative outcomes, including job loss, decreased morale, absenteeism and so forth. Victims have been reported to suffer a wide variety of psychological and health-related symptoms, including depression, anxiety, headaches, sleep disturbance, and gastrointestinal disorders (Koss, 1990). In pilot research, we found decreased job satisfaction, increased anxiety, and increased depression, for harassed women. The objective of the proposed study is to formally examine the effect of workplace harassment on women's mental and physical health, as well as their occupational adjustment.
The specific aims of the project are: 1) To assess the impact and outcomes of sexual harassment and to chart their course over time; 2) To identify individual and organizational factors that increase vulnerability to harassment and, especially, its outcomes; 3) To test a theoretical model of the impact of sexual harassment using both cross-sectional and longitudinal data. The research utilizes a combined cross-sectional, longitudinal design involving 4 occupationally and racially diverse samples of women (N=1200). Computerized interviews and paper-and-pencil surveys will be used to collect self-report data to be analyzed via the LISREL VIII approach to structural equation modeling. Variables assessed include job-related factors (including sexual harassment history), personal characteristics, coping methods, organizational characteristics and three sets of outcome measures: job-related outcomes, psychological outcomes (including standardized measures of psychiatric symptoms, social adjustment and subjective well-being) and health outcomes (including physical health and health satisfaction). Data from comparable samples of men will also be collected and analyzed similarly. In-depth interviews will be conducted with a subset of participants to develop a richer and more complex picture of sexual harassment, victimization and its outcomes.
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