Race, rank and gender: the determinants of sexual harassment for men and women in the military

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Purpose – To ascertain how the institutional environment of the armed forces has differentially impacted men and women in their experiences of sexual harassment.

Methodology – Logistic regression analyses of the 1995 Armed Forces Sexual Harassment Survey and the 2002 Status of the Armed Forces Survey – Workplace and Gender Relations.

Findings – Gender does not override all other factors in determining who is most likely to be targeted for sexual harassment in the military. Gender is shown to be most informative about the likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment for women only when combined with race and rank. For men, however, it seems that race is more salient than rank in determining the likelihood of being targeted for sexual harassment.

Research limitations – One glaring omission in this analysis is the effect of same-sex sexual harassment on the work environment of the military. There simply was not sufficient time or space to cover that aspect in this analysis, but it is an important direction for further research on sexual harassment in the military to explore.

Practical implications – Policy makers in the Department of Defense must be more attuned to the interlocking effects of race and gender as they combine with rank to properly address the problem of sexual harassment in the military. It is not enough to simply provide training about sexual harassment; personnel comprising the chain of command within the hierarchical structure of the military must become more cognizant of the microlevel interactions occurring between personnel as part of the everyday work environment.


Advances in Gender Research



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