Young women’s perceptions of and responses to sexual harassment
 a symposium presentation by:
Ms. Kelly Cooper
RU Advisor: Dr. Hilary Lips
Abstract.   Sexual harassment in the workplace is a major problem that affects thousands of individuals each year. In recent years, a number of researchers have examined the consequences of sexual harassment and attempted to develop models of the ways victims manage and cope with the experience.
Although these studies have provided excellent direction in terms of understanding the dimensions of responses to sexual harassment, they suffer from several limitations. One of these is a failure to examine victims’ reported responses in terms of timelines, focusing instead on responses at a single point in time. Another is a failure to look at victims’ accounts of the emotional responses connected with their chosen coping strategies. Finally, most of this research has focused on fulltime women workers in their 30s and 40s.
The current research focuses specifically and in depth on the experiences of young women (in their early twenties) who are students and part-time workers. Through semi-structured, detailed interviews with 10 such workers, we hoped to gain a perspective on how this group responds to sexual harassment, how that response is seen by them as changing or evolving over the minutes, days, and weeks following the harassment incident, and how they evaluate the coping mechanisms they chose. By gathering this information, we hope to assess whether current models of coping with sexual harassment are applicable to young women in the current cultural context.
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