School of Social Work

Susan Fineran, Ph.D.

Director, School of Social Work; Professor of Women and Gender Studies


G37 Ground Floor, Masterton Hall, Portland Campus

Office Hours

Office hours by appointment

Contact Information

Phone: (207) 228-8533

“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, Director, School of Social Work and Professor of Women and Gender Studies

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

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. Recently, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Labor, Dr. Fineran and her colleague, Dr. James Gruber, conducted a survey of working Maine teenagers regarding their experiences of sexual harassment on the job. Seminal findings from this study confirmed that 35% of teens experience sexual harassment at their jobs. Results from this study were presented at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, October 2010 and the manuscript is currently under review for publication.

Dr. Fineran teaches courses in practice, research and women and gender studies and was awarded the 2010 Kathleen MacPherson Outstanding Feminist Award. In 2009, Dr. Fineran was awarded $300,000 by the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women to fund the Campus Interpersonal Violence Safety Program. The program is a collaborative effort with the Muskie School of Public Service, and other key departments on the USM campus, including the Division of Student and University Life and the USM Police.

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

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.

Book Chapters

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.