A Model for Predicting Outcomes of Sexual Harassment Complaints by Race and Gender

  • Harsh K. LutharEmail author
  • Jasmine Tata
  • Eileen Kwesiga


Organizational scholars have studied the impact of sex on sexual harassment outcomes but left unexplored the influences of race. Thus, we use social identity theory to explore the role of race stereotypes and their influences on sexual harassment outcomes. We posit that stereotypes of African-American women tend to be much more negative than those of white women and this serves to marginalize their position both as victims of sexual harassment as well as complainants.

Key words

race gender sexual harassment outcomes stereotypes 


  1. Abrahms, D., & Hogg, M. A. (1988). Comments on the motivational status of self-esteem in social identity and intergroup discrimination. European journal of Social Psychology, 18, 317–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, J. H. (1997). Sexual harassment and Black women: A historical perspective. In W. O’Donohue (Ed.) Sexual harassment: Theory, research, and treatment. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  3. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA, USA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  4. Bagby, R. M., & Rector, N. A. (1992). Prejudice in a simulated legal context: A further application of social identity theory. European Journal of Social Psychology, 22, 397–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (1995). Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes. Psychological Review, 10, 4.Google Scholar
  6. Baugh, S. G., & Graen, G. B. (1997). Effects of team gender and racial composition on perceptions of team performance in cross-functional teams. Group and Organization Management, 22, 366–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bell, E. L. (1992). Myths, stereotypes, and realities of black women: A personal reflection. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 28, 363–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bell, E. L., Denton, C., & Nkomo, S. M. (1993). Women of color in management: Toward and inclusive analysis. In L. Larwood, & B. Gutek (Eds.) Women in management: Trends, issues, and challenges (Women and Work, vol. 4). Newbury Park, CA, USA: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Bemmels, B. (1988a). The effects of grievant’s gender on arbitrators’ decisions. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 41(2), 251–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bemmels, B. (1988b). Gender effects in discipline arbitration. Academy of Management Journal, 31(3), 699–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bemmels, B. (1988c). Gender Effects in Discharge Arbitration. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 42(1), 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bigoness, W. J., & DuBose, P. B. (1985). Effects of gender on arbitrators’ decisions. Academy of Management Journal, 28, 485–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bless, H., Schwarz, N., Bodenhausen, G. V., & Thiel, L. (2001). Personalized versus generalized benefits of stereotype disconfirmation: Trade-offs in the evaluation of atypical exemplars and their social groups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chatman, J. A., Polzer, J. T., Barsade, S. G., & Neale, M. A. (1998). Being different yet feeling similar: The influence of demographic composition and organizational culture on work processes and outcomes. Administrative Science Quarterly, 43, 749–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chattopadhyay, P. (1999). Beyond direct and symmetrical effects: The influence of demographic dissimilarity on organizational citizenship behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 273–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chattopadhyay, P., George, E., & Lawrence, S. A. (2004a). Why does dissimilarity matter? Exploring self-categorization, self-enhancement, and uncertainty reduction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chattopadhyay, P., Tluchowska, M., & George, E. (2004b). Identifying the ingroup: A closer look at the influence of demographic dissimilarity on employee social identity. The Academy of Management Review, 29, 180.Google Scholar
  18. Collins, P. H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Boston: Irwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  19. Coon, H. M., & Kemmelmeier, M. (2001). Cultural orientations in the United States: Re(Examining) differences among ethnic groups. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 32, 348–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cortina, L. M. (2001). Assessing sexual harassment among Latinas: Development of an Instrument. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 7, 164–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cox Jr., T. (1993). Cultural diversity in organizations. Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA, USA: Berret-Koehler.Google Scholar
  22. Crenshaw, K. (1992). Whose story is it, anyway? Feminist and antiracist appropriations of Anita Hill. In Rac-ing justice, en-gendering power (pp. 200–214). New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  23. Dalton, D. R., & Todor, W. D. (1985a). Gender and workplace justice: A field assessment. Personnel Psychology, 38, 133–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dalton, D. R., & Todor, W. D. (1985b). Composition of dyads as a factor in the outcomes of workplace justice. Academy of Management Journal, 28, 704–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dalton, D. R., Todor, W. D., & Owen, C. L. (1987). Sex effects in workplace justice outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 156–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. DeFour, D. C. (1990). The interface of racism and sexism on college campuses. In M. A. Paludi (Ed.) Ivory power: Sexual harassment on campus (pp. 45–52). Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  27. Dennis, R. M., & Kunkel, D. A. (2004). Social behavior & personality. International Journal, 32(2), 155–172.Google Scholar
  28. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (1981). Guidelines on discrimination on the basis of sex. Federal Register, 45, 74676–74677.Google Scholar
  29. Essed, P. (1992). Alternative knowledge sources in explanations for racist events. In M. L. McLaughlin, M. L. Cody, & S. J. Read (Eds.) Explaining one’s self to others: Reason-giving in a social context. Hillsdale, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Fain, T. C., & Anderton, D. L. (1987). Sexual harassment: Organizational context and diffuse status. Sex Roles, 17, 291–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1998). Social cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  32. Foley, L. A., Evancic, C., Karnik, K., King, J., & Parks, A. (1995). Date rape: Effects of race of assailant and victim and gender of subjects on perceptions. Journal of Black Psychology, 21, 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gruber, J. E., Smith, M., & Kauppinen-Toropainen, K. (1996). Sexual harassment types and severity: Linking research and policy. In M. S. Stockdale (Ed.) Sexual harassment: Perspectives, frontiers, and response strategies (Vol. 5 (pp. 151–173). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Guiffre, P. A., & Williams, C. L. (1994). Boundary lines: Labeling sexual harassment in restaurants. Gender & Society, 8, 378–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hacker, A. (1992). Two nations. New York: Scribners.Google Scholar
  36. Hogg, M. A., & Terry, D. J. (2000). Social identity and self-categorization processes in organizational contexts. Academy of Management Review, 25, 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kalof, L., Eby, K. K., Matheson, J. L., & Kroska, R. J. (2001). The influence of race and gender on student self-reports of sexual harassment by college professors. Gender and Society, 15, 282–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Karsten, M. F. (1994). Management and gender. Westport, CT, USA: Quorum Books.Google Scholar
  39. Katz, D., & Braly, K. W. (1933). Racial stereotypes of 100 college students. Journal of Abnormal& Social Psychology, 28, 280–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Klineburg, O. (1951). The scientific study of national stereotypes. International Social Science Bulletin, 3, 505–515.Google Scholar
  41. LaFree, G. (1991). Rape and criminal justice: The social construction of sexual assault. Belmont, CA, USA: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  42. Larwood, L., Rand, P., & Der Hovanessian, A. (1979). Sex differences in response to simulated employee discipline cases. Personnel Psychology, 32, 539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lerner, G. (Ed.) (1972). Black Women in White America; A Documentary History. New York: Pantheon Books-Random House.Google Scholar
  44. Lippmann, W. (1922). Public Opinion. New York: Harcourt, Brace.Google Scholar
  45. Luthar, H. K. (1996–1997). Chivalry and paternalism v. nurturance and maternalism: Are female managers partial to female grievants? The missing link in the grievance resolution literature. Journal of Individual Employment Rights, 5(3), 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Luthar, H. K., & Bonnici, J. (1998). The arbitration of discrimination complaints: a new look at the issues. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 11(3), 159–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Macrae, C. N., Bodenhausen, G. V., & Milne, A. B. (1995). The dissection of selection in person perception: Inhibitory in social stereotyping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. MacKinnon, C. (1979). Sexual harassment of working women. New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Mecca, S. J., & Rubin, L. J. (1999). Definitional research on African American students and sexual harassment. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23, 813–821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57. 1986.Google Scholar
  51. Miller, S. (1997). The role of a juggler. In S. Parasuraman, & J. H. Greenhaus (Eds.) Integrating work and family: Challenges and choices for a changing world (pp. 48–56). Westport, CT, USA: Quorum Books.Google Scholar
  52. Moulds, E. F. (1980). Chivalry and paternalism: Disparities of treatment in the criminal justice system. In S. K. Datesman, & F. R. Scarpetti (Eds.) Women, crime, and justice (pp. 91–144). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Murrell, A. J. (1996). Sexual harassment and women of color: Issues, challenges, and future directions. In M. S. Stockdale (Ed.) Women at work, 5 (pp. 51–66). Thousand Oaks, CA, USA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  54. Nagel, I. H., & Hagen, J. (1983). Gender and crime: Offense patterns and criminal court sanctions. In M. Tonry, & N. Morris (Eds.) Crime and justice: An annual review of research, Vol. 4 (pp. 91–144). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  55. Neuman, W. L. (1992). Gender, race, and age differences in definitions of sexual harassment. Wisconsin Sociologist, 29, 63–75.Google Scholar
  56. Oswald, S. L., & Caudill, S. B. (1991). Experimental evidence of gender effects in arbitration decisions. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 4, 271–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Painter, N. I. (1992). Hill, Thomas, and the use of racial stereotype. In Rac-ing justice, en-gendering power (pp. 200–214). New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  58. Patterson, O. (1991). Race, gender, and liberal fallacies. The New York Times, p. E15.Google Scholar
  59. Rover, J. L., & Gelfand, M. J. (2005). Beyond the individual victim: Linking sexual harassment, team processes and team performance. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 387–400.Google Scholar
  60. Riordan, C., & Shore, L. M. (1997). Demographic diversity and employee attitudes: An empirical examination of relational demography among work units. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 342–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Scott, C., & Shadoan, E. (1989). The impact of gender on arbitration decisions. Journal of Labor Research, 10, 429–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shelton, J., & Chavous, T. M. (1999). Black and white college women’s perceptions of sexual harassment. Sex Roles, 40, 593–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Staines, G., Tavris, C., & Jayaratne, T. (1974). The queen bee syndrome. Psychology Today, 7, 55–60.Google Scholar
  64. Stott, C., & Drury, J. (2004). The importance of social structure and social interaction in stereotype consensus and content: is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? European Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 11–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tajfel, H. (1982). Social identity and intergroup relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations. Google Scholar
  67. Tata, J. (1990). Patterns of arbitration awards: The impact of attorneys and the gender of arbitrators and grievants. Presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, San Francisco, California.Google Scholar
  68. Tata, J. (2000). She said, he said. The influence of remedial accounts on third-party judgments of coworker sexual harassment. Journal of Management, 26, 1133–1156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Taylor, D., & Jaggi, V. (1974). Ethnocentrism and causal attribution in a south Indian context. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 5(2), 162–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tsui, A., Egan, T., & O’Reilly III., C. A. (1992). Being different: Relational demography and organizational attachment. Administrative Science Quarterly, 37, 549–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Ugwuegbu, D. C. E. (1976). Black jurors’ personality trait attributions to a rape case defendant. Social Behavior and Personality, 4, 193–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (USMSPB). (1988). Sexual harassment in the federal government: An update. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  73. U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (USMSPB). (1995). Sexual harassment in the federal workplace. Trends, progress and continuing challenges. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  74. Wyatt, G. E. (1992). The sociocultural context of African American and white women’s rape. Journal of Social Issues, 48, 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wyatt, G. E., & Riederle, M. (1994). Sexual harassment and prior sexual trauma among African American and white American women. Violence and Victims, 9, 233–247.Google Scholar
  76. Wyatt G. E., & Riederle, M. (1995). The prevalence and context of sexual harassment among African American and White American women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10(3), 309–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Yoder, J. D., & Aniakudo, P. (1996). When pranks become harassment: The case of African American women firefighters. Sex Roles, 35, 253–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harsh K. Luthar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jasmine Tata
    • 2
  • Eileen Kwesiga
    • 1
  1. 1.College of BusinessBryant UniversitySmithfieldUSA
  2. 2.School of Business AdministrationLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations