Relationship and Gender and Sexual Harassment

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Updated: Jun 11, 2019
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This study was about sexual harassment, and the impact of gendered perception. More closely Perpetrators’ relationship with the victim on their perception of sexual harassment. A case study was discussed on the basis of which the whole study was conducted. The data collection method for this study was survey questionnaire, in which people were asked to give views about their perception regarding sexual harassment and which act of perpetrators is considered sexual harassment.

It was predicted that females were more sensitive to sexual harassment and perceived smaller acts as sexual harassment as compared to men. A perpetrator’s status impacts significantly on people’s perception to consider the act as sexual harassment. In conclusion, females were more prone to sexual harassment due to their increase sensitivity to any act of their relationships or any stranger. The hypothesis of this study was established, and the status of the perpetrators was considered essential. At the end of the study, limitations and future recommendations were given to upcoming research to expand their area of examination and use different techniques to evaluate the difference between current and previous situations related to the issue.

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Sexual harassment has become a widespread and common recurring problem that is observable at a domestic level as well as in employment settings and educational institutions. Domestic sexual harassment is also seen in society however; it is less common than the occurrence of sexual harassment at the workplace and educational institutions, these incidents are more widespread. The statistics portrayed by Statista (2017), in the year 2017 approximately 42 percent of the women were found to be sexually harassed according to their perception as shown in the graph given below.

A major concern has been discussed by Rubin and Borgers (1990) that approximately 70 percent of women around the world have experienced some form of sexual harassment. However, they do not report this issue to the police or other concerned authorities.

Previous Studies

In Marks and Nelson (1993) study they have provided evidence that people’s perception is different about sexual harassment on the basis of gender bias. People consider the sexual harassing action that is started by a woman as no harassment or less harassing as compared to the same act if done by a man (Settles et al., 2014).

In addition to this finding, they found that gender bias also impacts the perception of sexual harassment as women state an action done by a man to be in the category of pure sexual harassment while men have a different perception. Men may consider that there is no offensive sexual harassment that has been categorized by females as sexual harassment (Marks and Nelson, 1993).

As per the study of Kanekar and Dhir (1993), the difference in the relationship between the perpetrator and the harassed, and the gender have a major influence on perceiving an activity as sexually offensive. The gender basis, however, can be moderated by harassment type and status of the person who initiated the sexual harassment.

In his study conducted on the similar topic, Ekore (2012) has also found a significant variation in men and women’s perception related to sexual harassment. The study conducted statistical analysis for portraying this relationship and impact. The results of statistical analysis proved that women who participated in the study considered even little acts of frankness as sexual harassment. But, according to results of Ekore (2012), male participants did not find those activities as sexual harassment.

Research Gap

A number of studies have sought out after getting the reasons and explanations for sexual harassment and determined how these incidents could be controlled. However, there is a gap in studies exploring whether an act can be considered sexual harassment. The difference in the perception of the victims has been deteriorating the statistics and facts on a number of sexual harassment events around the globe.

In psychology, it is an approved fact that attitude and behavior/perception of people towards an act is the main reason for believing an act to be negative or positive. The gap exists in the literature because when researchers intend to suggest the mitigating measures of such harassment, it is necessary to focus whether the act is sexual harassment. This study will bridge this gap and evaluate the difference between the perception of people regarding sexual harassment.

The case study of Alice a university student in a popular University in the United States. There are three levels of relationships with three different men; her uncle, friend, and a stranger. Alice was offered by these three men to go on a date and in return, they will be help her get a higher grade in her exams. Alice was offended by this offer by all three men and filed a complaint against them to the authorities. The committee wanted to ascertain if this was an act of harassment or Alice was exaggerating the situation.

To reach the findings of this study, a positivism, and realism philosophy was used. The research strategy helps the study to collect relevant data on the basis of nature of data required. Quantitative research strategy was used as the study was aimed at providing a statistical basis for the perception-based theory. To collect the data, survey research design was used. The survey questionnaire had three set of questions, in which the first question was demographic information in which the gender of the participants was asked.

In the second set of questions, the participants were asked about their relationship with the perpetrators as this affected their emotions towards the perception of sexual harassment. In the last set, the participants were asked if there were any influences of the above-mentioned factors on their perception that Alice was sexually harassed or not. After drafting this questionnaire, it was sent to 150 people through E-mail and social media. 120 responses were collected successfully. The data was entered into SPSS and different statistical tests including reliability tested i.e. Cronbach’s Alpha, regression analysis and correlation analysis were conducted. The results were interpreted and compared with the previous studies on alike topics.

The population of interest is based on a group of 150 people which were randomly selected. In the study, an artificial case was discussed, and the respondents responded according to the case. For example, what were their feelings about Alice’s case? The study is based on the case study, the control group responded. The requirement of the study analyzed gender-based reviews on sexual harassment, both genders were involved in the study.

All the voluntaries who wanted to respond to the questionnaire were included in the sample size. The age group is above 18 and both genders were included in the study. Their education, ethnicity, and demographics were not considered because it was needed to evaluate the social issue in a broad area. The people were motivated to participate because they realized the harsh reality of this issue in society. They have received course credit because they gave their valuable perspective to make this study valid and reliable.

The sample was asked, what was their perceptions regarding Alice’s perpetrators (Uncle, Friend, and Stranger) act. Their responses were explained by the graphical representation given below. In the case of the Uncle, 50 females out of 85 thought that it was sexual harassment and 15 out 35 male thought the same. Females are more prone to sexual harassment because they are more sensitive about this issue.

In the case of the friend, 29 females out of 85 considered it to be sexual harassment and 5 out 35 males believed the same. A classmate or friend is a well-known person which is why people believe their intentions are known and not considered sexual harassment.

Cronbach’s Alpha is a measure used to evaluate the reliability of the variables selected in the research work. Reliability test and this measure convey that the researcher can either use variables in further proceedings or not. Standard value of the Cronbach’s Alpha is more than 0.6 or exactly 0.6. The value for Gender of Perception is 0.78, which means the variable is reliable.

Cronbach’s Alpha is a measure to evaluate the reliability of the variables selected in the research work. The reliability test and this measure convey that either researcher can use variables in further proceedings or not. The standard value of the Cronbach’s Alpha is more than 0.6 or exactly 0.6. The value for Perception of Sexual Harassment is 0.72, which means the variable is reliable.

In this given table, the value of the constant is 3.992 which represents that when the independent variable is zero, then 3.992 would be the average value of the dependent variable. The Beta for the Gender of Participants is 0.342 which depicts that when gender switch from male to female or female to male there will be change. The perception of participants about sexual harassment by 0.342 times. The significance value which is also shown in the correlational analysis, the value is 0.0125 which is also less than 0.05 represents that there is a strong relationship between perception of participants and gender of participants.

In this given table, the value of the constant is 3.992 which represents that when independent variables are zero, then 3.992 would be the average value of the dependent variable. The Beta for the perpetrators’ relationship with the victim is 0.399 which depicts that the relationship with perpetrators will change the perception of participants about sexual harassment by 0.399 times. The significance value which is also shown in the correlational analysis, the value is 0.019 which is also less than 0.05, represents that there is a strong relationship between perception of participants and perpetrators’ relationship with the victim.


It is predicted that females are more sensitive to sexual harassment and perceive the little acts as sexual harassment as compared to men while a perpetrator’s status impacts significantly on people’s perception to consider the act as sexual harassment. The analysis from the discussion concludes that there are numerous aspects which differ within the context of sexual harassment as evaluated by the different genders; male and female. In the following discussion, the response of Alice will also be reflected in the light of her changing perception of the sexual harassment faced by her uncle John, a stranger and a friend/classmate.

The initial concept of the following discussion is that there is a vast difference in perception regarding such an event in the response to the sexual harassment conducted. It is reported through multiple research statistics that men and women have a totally different view in comparison in response to a sexual harassment incident which will be evaluated through the case reflection of Alice. Another area of consideration is the relationship which is involved in the sexual harassment process, and the extent to which one could respond to a known person than a complete stranger.

It is also true that the current social status of an individual contributes highly towards the kind of response given over a sexual harassment event. Through the findings of Tata (1993), it was concluded that individuals from different hierarchical levels responded differently towards a sexual harassment. Some take it lightly as a matter of routine life, while, some take it serious where legal jurisdictions are involved, which is also supposedly the right way to deal with such case. It has also been identified through the study reports of (Settle, et al., 2014) and (Rotundo et al. 2001), that women respond aggressively towards any event, harassment or a non-harassment caused by men, as a matter of nature. Compared to the reaction of a man, who considers it as a misunderstanding the first time.

For a more realistic approach towards a conclusion, the case of Alice was evaluated. It was a hypothetically generated case involving the above-discussed relations. Talking about an uncle of Alice, who tries to hug, kiss or touch Alice anywhere, even if he has the desire towards sexual consent, but being a formal relation, it wouldn’t be considered harassment, it would be taken as affection. However, if the same consent is repeated by a stranger, Alice would shout or report to her parents or ultimately the police (Vijayasiri, 2008). Furthermore, the response of Alice would quiet be different as when the same event is repeated by a classmate.

Knowing them would cause Alice to have a trust in him, and, if the event is taken negatively, he will be stopped from whatever he tries to do, but, if positive, it will be labeled as love. However, the different responses make it confusing and difficult to reach towards a favorable conclusion. Despite the discussion, reflecting the same situation on a man would give similar results under every relation. A first touch would be considered a mistake, where consecutive touches would lead to a mutual discussion situation where no fuss would be created, and no third party will be involved (Polce-Lynch, Myers, Kliewer and Kilmartin, 2001).

Thus, the conclusion made represented, when the victim is not in a formal relationship with the harasser, even a dining date with a stranger is predicted to be a sort of harassment. A common justification which can be reached through detailed study reports that women are more sensitive to many of the problems they face in the environment and are more likely to face cases of being sexually harassed.

The study is based on quantitative data and survey questionnaire technique is used to collect the data. The researcher should have used an extensive approach such as interviews and involved previous studies thoroughly to analyze the change in current and previous conditions of this social issue to compare the difference and analyze what more changes are required to make the context of sexual harassment. Additionally, randomly selected data is reliable but specifically selected people can give more authentic results such as psychologist and people who face this situation in their real life. Hence, these are the limitations of this study.

Future Recommendation

The future researcher should focus on experiments and use different techniques to analyze this social issue. Moreover, they should compare the previous situations and current situations of the sexual harassment by investigating specific environment, for example, they can choose a workplace, schools, and colleges to analyze this phenomenon.

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Relationship and Gender and Sexual Harassment. (2019, Jun 11). Retrieved from