Sex Roles

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 67-77

First online:

The Effects of Subtle Sexual Harassment on Women’s Performance in a Job Interview

  • Julie A. WoodzickaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Washington and Lee UniversityDepartment of Psychology, Washington and Lee University Lexington Email author 
  • , Marianne LaFranceAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Yale University

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Although we now know about the long-term consequences of moderate to severe sexual harassment, little is known about the immediate effects of more subtle harassment. The present study was designed to examine real-time consequences of subtle sexual harassment in a job interview using objective indicators of job performance. Fifty women were recruited for a job interview. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two interview conditions during which they were asked either three sexual or non-sexual questions interspersed with standard interview questions. In the former, women applicants spoke less fluently, gave lower quality answers, and asked fewer job relevant questions than did those in the non-sexual interview. It thus appears that even relatively mild harassment disrupts immediate performance.

Key Words

sexual harassment performance interview