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Arch Sex Behav. 2009 Dec;38(6):909-21. doi: 10.1007/s10508-008-9354-9. Epub 2008 Apr 19.

Sexual harassment at work in the United States.

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Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Using nationally representative data from the 1992 U.S. National Health and Social Life Survey, this study queried the prevalence and risk factors of lifetime workplace sexual harassment among both women and men. Among those aged 18-60 reporting ever having worked, 41% of women (CI, 37-44) reported any workplace harassment over their lifetime, with men's harassment prevalence significantly lower, at 32% (CI, 29-35). In the youngest age groups (those in their 20s or younger), there was no statistically significant difference between women's and men's harassment prevalence. Multivariate analysis of risk factors suggested that, in contrast to much of the harassment literature, among both genders workplace harassment seemed to have at least as much to do with a system of "routine activities" mechanisms-a victim's conscious or unconscious sexual signaling, more exposure to potential harassers, and a perpetrator's lower cost of harassment-as with unobserved differences in power between victim and perpetrator. Strikingly, both women's and men's harassment was strongly linked to markers of sexualization, whether early developmental factors or behavioral patterns in adulthood-a mechanism insufficiently emphasized in the harassment literature.

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