School of Social Work

Professor Fineran addresses the impact of sexual harassment on school outcomes

In early August, Dr. Susan Fineran, director of the School of Social Work and professor of women and gender studies, and co-author James Gruber (University of Michigan-Dearborn) gave the paper “Gender, Sexual Orientation, and the Impact of Sexual Harassment Experiences on School Outcomes” at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP).

Their paper poses three hypotheses: heterosexual girls and sexual minorities will have greater levels of sexual harassment victimization than heterosexual boys; sexual orientation will be a stronger predictive factor of sexual harassment victimization than gender; and heterosexual girls and sexual minorities will experience greater harm as a result of sexual harassment compared to heterosexual boys.

Study outcomes showed that while heterosexual boys had levels of harassment similar to their female peers, the effects of sexual harassment on their poorer school outcomes were significantly less than for their female peers. Their research also indicates that the poor school attachment and academic performance of heterosexual boys results from factors other than sexual harassment. However, for girls in general and for sexual minority boys in particular, the link between school outcomes and sexual harassment appears stronger.
In addition to the SSSP annual meeting, Dr. Fineran also addressed sexual harassment issues as an invited panelist for “Teaching About Sexual Harassment in Undergraduate and Graduate Curricula,” a panel discussion at the International Coalition Against Sexual Harassment Conference, held August 12 in New York City.