Reported incidence rates of work-related sexual harassment in the United States: Using meta-analysis to explain reported rate disparities

This study presents a meta-analyic review of the incidence of sexual harassment in the U.S. The impact of 3 main moderator variables (type of survey used, sampling technique, and the type of work environment in which the study was conducted) on the reported incidence rate was estimated by cumulating incidence rates reported in the literature. Results show that directly querying the respondents about whether or not they experienced sexual harassment (vs. using questionnaires that listed behaviors believed to constitute sexual harassment), and employing probability-sampling techniques (vs.convenience sampling), led to substantially lower estimates of sexual harassment incidence. In addition, the results suggest that sexual harassment is more prevalent in organizations characterized by relatively large power differentials between organizational levels. Based on more than 86,000 respondents from 55 probability samples, on average, 58% of women report having experienced potentially harassing behaviors and 24% report having experienced sexual harassment at work.
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Personnel Psychology
The focus of this meta-analysis was to examine methodological and organizational factors that affect incidence rates of sexual harassment within the workplace and to present cumulative estimates of incidence rates. Specifically, researchers investigated the extent of sexual harassment, as measured by direct query and behavioral experiences, as well as the extent of the difference in incidence, as estimated by the use of these two sampling methods. Yet another auxiliary goal for researchers involved comparing possible differences between convenience and probability samples. Lastly, researchers hypothesized that structured bureaucratic organizations would tend to have more sexual harassment than organizations that are not as hierarchical. Results revealed that measures focused on assessing sexual harassment through direct questioning, combined with probability sampling, led to considerably lower estimates of sexual harassment incidence when compared to convenience sampling and measures using questionnaires that listed behaviors believed to constitute sexual harassment. Furthermore, findings suggest differences in reported incidence based on work location, with academia averaging the lowest on direct query sexual harassment while military samples averaged the highest. By combining multiple studies, researchers hope to further expand on research pertaining to sexual harassment.
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Disclosure; harassment; prevalence
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