, Volume 17, Issue 5-6, pp 291-311

Sexual harassment: Organizational context and diffuse status

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Data from a large survey of federal employees is utilized to compare three broad competing perspectives that suggest effects on sexual harassment within organizations. Three different viewpoints stress power differentials, minority status, and diffuse master status characteristics. Results of the study indicate that intraorganizational theories emphasizing either power inequalities or work group compositional heterogeneities are unable to account for the reported sexual harassment without considering diffuse master status characteristics developed and maintained outside the organization.

Dair Gillespie at the University of Utah was instrumental in obtaining the data for this study and commenting on the original analysis. Theda Skocpol at the University of Chicago provided support at the Center for the Study of Industrial Societies during the completion of this research. Comments of Joe Conaty, William Wilson, John Comaroff, and many others were supportive and helpful. Finally, we wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.