Sexual Harassment and Its Consequences: How Research in Psychology, Sociology, and Economy May Together Find an Effective Solution in the Problem

by laeti.y.felix on April 14, 2015 - 12:02am

            Sexual harassment is not an epidemic, but it has been getting much more media coverage in the last few years than it ever has before.  So what is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment is when a person is getting any unwanted attention by a known or unknown (stranger) individual where the attention is of a sexual or romantic nature.  Examples of unwanted attention may include snarky remarks, staring (in a sexual manner), touching or groping, catcalling or whistling, and in extreme cases, rape.  Sexual harassment may happen in a variety of places, such as in a home, at a workplace, on the street, etc.  As a victim of sexual harassment, I am interested in the topic and I have been interested in looking at sexual harassment in a variety of aspects.  For a research paper that I will be writing for my class, I will be looking at three fields of study when understanding the outcomes of sexual harassment: psychology, sociology and economics.  I would like to understand why the harasser would deem their actions to be okay to be carried out, and what the effects of the harassment would have on the victim.  I would like to understand how it may be socially acceptable to let sexual harassment occur, usually without any consequences to the harasser.  I would also like to know how sexual harassment may or may not have any effects on economics.  For example, if an overwhelming amount of victim of sexual harassment successfully brings their harassers to court, would there be a financial strain on the state, province or country to use the court systems for the sexual harassment charges?  If the victim of sexual were to use a financial plan for therapy sessions to alleviate the pain of enduring the sexual harassment, would there be an economic strain for the individual or tax payers who help pay for the therapy sessions?  What would happen if a company pays for annual programs for employees to attend in order to know what to do if one is the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace?  Would it be a benefit to pay for such a program or would be a financial strain for the company?

            The question that I will be trying to find an answer to for my research paper will be to find out if there are effective solutions to teach people to be more sensitive to others’ feelings in order to lessen the amount of sexual harassment incidents.  According to an article entitled ‘What We Get Wrong About Sexual Harassment’, published in Canadian Business in December 2014, written by James Cowan, major US corporations would lose approximately $7 million a year because the corporations will have substantial amounts of sexually harassed employees quit their jobs.  Despite this landslide of lost profits, only 40% of companies will require their employees to attend sexual harassment training. These training sessions will teach employees how to be more sensitive to co-workers, what to do when being sexually harassed, what to do when an individual sees the harassment happening, etc.

            Sexual harassment may take form in many ways and it has its consequences psychologically, sociologically and economically.  There are several universities which offer great programs which may cover aspects of sexual harassment.  Bishops University’s Sociology program focuses on ‘Criminology, Law, and Social Policy’, ‘Gender, Diversity and Equity Studies’, and etc. (http://www.ubishops.ca/academic-programs/social-sciences/sociology/index.html).  Also at Bishops University, certain courses in their psychology program also focuses on sexually motivated behaviours (http://www.ubishops.ca/fileadmin/bishops_documents/academic_calendar/43-Psychology.pdf).  At Vanderbilt University, one may achieve a double PhD in law and economics, where they may cover topics such as deviant behaviours (http://law.vanderbilt.edu/phd/).