Paul L. Caron

Friday, January 5, 2018

Sexual Harassment At Annual Academic Meetings

Inside Higher Ed, Harassment at Annual Meetings:

A "sizable" minority of women and a smaller but still notable share of men have experienced harassment or other inappropriate behavior at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, according to a survey of members that the association has just released.

A solid majority (63 percent) of the 2,424 members who responded to the survey indicated that they had never been harassed or treated inappropriately at the meeting. But the figures were different for men (74 percent) and women (51 percent).


Among the findings:

  • Forty-two percent of women and 22 percent of men said that they had been "put down" or "experienced condescension" at the meeting.
  • Thirty percent of women and 10 percent of men said that they had experienced "inappropriate language or looks, such as experiencing offensive sexist remarks; getting stared at, leered or ogled in a way that made them uncomfortable; or being exposed to sexist or suggestive materials which they found offensive."
  • Eleven percent of women and 3 percent of men reported having experienced "inappropriate sexual advances or touching, such as unwanted attempts to establish a sexual relationship despite efforts to discourage it, being touched by someone in a way that was uncomfortable, or experiencing bribes or threats associated with sexual advances." ...

The APSA is not the only association to consider the experience of women — especially those seeking jobs — at disciplinary gatherings.

For years, female philosophers complained about an event at the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association dubbed "the smoker" (from when most people at the event smoked). At the event, job candidates and senior scholars mingled in an atmosphere of heavy drinking and frequent sexist comments or harassment, many women said. In recent years, the association has cut way back on the booze, and de-emphasized the event as part of the job-hunting process, hoping to eliminate the concerns many had about the event.

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One thing I would think might be useful is a clear definition of what "harassment" etc. is perceived as based on the almost certainly different definitions of the same due to gender. Obviously what I am suggesting is that as a general rule it is likely that the different genders consider different behaviors as appropriate or inappropriate and that the threshold of what constitutes offense is likely to often be different according to gender. I think that acting as if males and females have identical approaches to the nature of others' behavior is wrong and there are also issues with the degree of subjectivity that is likely to be involved in interpreting intent.

Posted by: David | Jan 5, 2018 6:28:24 AM