School of Social Work

Susan Fineran, Ph.D., LICSW

Emerita Professor of Social Work; Professor of Women and Gender Studies

Office Location




Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 1996
  • M.S.W., The Catholic University of America, 1981
  • B.A., Russell Sage College, 1974


“As a researcher and teacher in the field of sexual harassment and bullying, I am passionate about the need to focus attention on the impact these behaviors have on the mental health of teens and adolescents. The USM students in my program are gaining the first-hand experience and awareness they’ll need in their roles as change agents in our schools and communities.” 

- Dr. Susan Fineran, Professor of Social Work and Professor of Women and Gender Studies

Professional Licenses

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Susan Fineran is a leading voice on the subject of peer sexual harassment and its effect on adolescent mental health.  A researcher in this field since 1995, Dr. Fineran was invited to present at the 2011 National Summit on Gender-Based Violence among Young People, hosted by the U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools and the U.S. National Institute of Justice in Washington, DC.

Her work has been influential in several Supreme Court cases as well. Two of her early studies were cited in amicus briefs regarding the responsibility of schools to provide an environment protected from sexual harassment by peers [1999 United States Supreme Court, Davis v. Monroe County board of Education (97-843)].

Dr. Fineran’s research has also focused on the effects of bullying and sexual harassment on sexual minority youth and she has been an advocate for instituting more prevention education to combat sexual harassment in K-12 schools.

Additionally, she has conducted the few studies examining sexual harassment of working teenagers in high school. This research has been highlighted in a number of national publications including; The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, E-Zine AlterNet, Family Circle, The Oregonian, and NASW News. One study conducted in collaboration with the Maine Department of Labor, surveyed working Maine teenagers. Findings confirmed that 35% of teens experience sexual harassment at their jobs.

Dr. Fineran teaches course in practice, research, women and gender studies, and was awarded the 2010 Kathleen MacPherson Outstanding Feminist Scholar Award. Dr. Fineran received $300,000 in funding for her third Campus Safety Grant (2009, 2013, & 2017) by the Department of Justice, Office of the Violence Against Women to support the USM Campus Safety Project (CSP). The CSP is a university wide collaborative effort to address domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on campus.

Dr. Fineran retired in the Spring of 2018.


Research Interests

Sex discrimination and women's issues including dating violence and sexual assault, peer sexual harassment and bullying in schools and the mental health implications for children and adolescents.

Recent Publications

Kohli, H., & Fineran, S., (2019).  "If they misbehaved, we took a stick to discipline them" : Refugee mothers' struggles raising children in the United States. Child & Famiy Social Work. DOI:10.1111/cfs.12705.

Kohli. H., & Fineran, S., (2019). "The rain grows plants, the thunder does not" : Refugee and aslyee womens' narratives on child abuse and neglect. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, DOI:10.1080/15562948.2019.163.9874.

Fineran, S. (2016). Teaching an online course on Sexual Harassment. In M.Paludi (Ed.) Campus Action Against Sexual Assault: Needs, Policies, Procedures, and Training Programs. CT: Praeger Publishers.

Gruber, J.E., & Fineran, S., (2016). Sexual Harassment, Bullying, and School Outcomes for High School Girls and Boys. Journal of Violence Against Women, 22, 1, 568-583.

Fineran, S., & Gruber, J.E. (2009). Youth at work: Adolescent Employment and Sexual Harassment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, (8), 550-559.

Gruber, J.E, & Fineran, S. (2008). Comparing the Impact of Bullying and

Sexual Harassment Victimization on the Mental and Physical Health of Adolescents.

Sex Roles, 59, (1-2), 1-13.

Gruber, J.E., & Fineran, S. (2007). The impact of bullying and sexual harassment on middle school and high school girls. Violence Against Women, 13, (2), 627-643.

Fineran, S., & Bolen, R.M. (2006). Risk factors for peer sexual harassment in schools. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 1169-1190.

Fineran, S., Bennett, L. & Sacco, T. (2003). Peer sexual harassment and peer violence among adolescents in Johannesburg and Chicago. International Social Work Journal. 46, (3), 391-405.

Fineran, S., Bolen, R.M., Urban-Keary, M. & Zimmerman, L. (2003). Sharing common ground: Learning about oppression through an experiential game. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 6, (4), 1-19.

Fineran, S. (2002). Adolescents at work: Gender issues and sexual harassment. Violence Against Women, 8, (8), 953-967.

Fineran, S. (2002). Sexual harassment between same-sex peers: The intersection of mental health, homophobia, and sexual violence in schools. Social Work. 47, (1), 65-74.


Paludi, M., Martin, J., Gruber, J., & Fineran, S. (Eds.). (2015). Sexual harassment, education and work: Current theories, research and best practices for prevention,CT: Praeger Publishers.

Book Chapters

Fineran, S. (2016). Teaching an online course on Sexual Harassment. In M.Paludi (Ed.) Campus Action Against Sexual Assault: Needs, Policies, Procedures, and Training Programs. CT: Praeger Publishers.

Fineran, S., (2015).  Bullying and peer sexual harassment in schools. In C.R. Massat, (Ed.), School social work: Practice, policy, and research (8th Edition). Chicago: Lyceum.

Fineran, S. (2015). Teaching an online course on Sexual Harassment. In M. Paludi, J. Martin, J. Gruber, & S. Fineran. (Eds.) Sexual Harassment, Education and Work: Current theories, Research and Best Practices for prevention,CT: Praeger Publishers.

Gruber, J.E., & Fineran, S. (2010). Bullying and Sexual Harassment of Adolescents. In M. Paludi (Ed.) Feminism and Women's Rights Worldwide,CT:Praeger Publishers

Fineran, S., & Gruber, J.E. (2008). Sexual harassment and mental health. In M. Paludi (Ed.) The psychology of women at work: Challenges and solutions for our female workforce. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Fineran, S. (2008). Same-sex sexual harassment. In J. Edleson & C. Renzetti (Eds). Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fineran, S., McDonald, S., & Constable, R. (2008). Bullying, and sexual harassment in schools: Pathways to assessment. In R. Constable, C.R. Massat, S. McDonald, & J.P. Flynn (Eds.), School social work: Practice, policy, and research (7th Edition). Chicago: Lyceum.