Sexual harassment and its impact ...
Sexual Harassment and its Impact for Women Officers and Cadets in the Swedish Armed Forces Armando X. Estrada Department of Psychology, Washington State University, Vancouver, Washington Anders W. Berggren Department of Leadership and Management Swedish National Defence College, Stockholm, Sweden We examined the incidence, dimensions, and impact of sexual harassment on women officers and cadets in the Swedish military (N = 324). We expected that harassment rates for direct measures would be lower than for indirect measures hostile environ- ment harassment would be more prevalent than quid pro quo harassment and harass- ment would negatively influence women���s job-related outcomes and their psycho- logical and physical health. We found that harassment rates for direct measures were lower than indirect measures hostile environment harassment was more prevalent than quid pro quo harassment and harassment was associated with decreased job sat- isfaction, organizational commitment, work group effectiveness, and psychological and physical health. We discuss the theoretical, methodological, and practical impli- cations of our findings for studying harassment across cultures. Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem with serious consequences for women across a variety of settings. Studies of public school and university students (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 1993, 2001 Fitzgerald et al., 1988 Fitzgerald, Weitzman, Gold, & Ormerod, 1988 Hill MILITARY PSYCHOLOGY, 21:162���185, 2009 Copyright �� Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0899-5605 print / 1532-7876 online DOI: 10.1080/08995600902768727 The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the offi- cial policy or position of the Swedish Department of Defense, the Swedish government, or any of its agencies. Correspondence should be addressed to Armando X. Estrada, WSUV Psychology Department, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue, Vancouver, WA 98686-9600. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
& Silva, 2005), working adults (U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board [USMSPB], 1981, 1988, 1995), and military personnel (Bastian, Lancaster, & Reyst, 1996 Fitzgerald, Magley, Drasgow, & Waldo, 1999 Lipari & Lancaster, 2003 Lipari, Lancaster, & Jones, 2005) indicate that anywhere from 15% to over 70% of women have experienced some kind of sexually harassing behavior while at school or work. Other research has documented the negative effects of sexual harassment on women���s job and academic outcomes, as well as the negative effects of sexual ha- rassment on women���s psychological and physical health outcomes (Dansky & Kil- patrick, 1997 Lapierre, Spector, & Leck, 2005 Schneider, Swan, & Fitzgerald, 1997 USMSPB, 1981, 1988, 1995 Willness, Steel, & Lee, 2007). This research has advanced our understanding of the nature and extent of sexual harassment (Ilies, Hauserman, Shcwochau, & Stibal, 2003 Rotundo, Nguyen, & Sackett, 2001) and our understanding of the deleterious effects sexual harassment can have on women���s personal and professional lives (Lapierre et al., 2005 USMSPB, 1981, 1988, 1995 Willness et al., 2007). However, it is important to note that the preponderance of this research has been conducted within U.S.-based institutions and organizations. And, though some research has examined the nature and extent of sexual harassment within different cultural contexts (e.g., Barak, 1997 DeSouza & Solberg, 2003 Gruber, 1997 Timmerman & Bajema, 1999), substantive differences in the conceptualization of sexual harassment, and differ- ences in methodologies employed across these studies make it difficult to draw conclusions regarding the nature, extent, and impact of sexual harassment of women across cultures. At best, the only firm conclusion that can be stated from this research is that the phenomenon of sexual harassment exists across cultures. We cannot state any definitive conclusions regarding the types of behaviors and the frequency of their experiences across cultures nor can we begin to systematically explore the effects that these experiences may have on women���s job, health, and psychological outcomes across cultures. This article begins to address these limitations by examining the nature, extent, and impact of sexual harassment for women officers and cadets in the Swedish Armed Forces. Specifically, we examine the incidence and dimensions of sexual ha- rassment and assess its impact on women���s job, health, and psychological outcomes. This work contributes to the small but growing body of research documenting the nature and extent of sexual harassment of women across cultures (e.g., DeSouza & Solberg, 2003 Timmerman & Bajema, 1999) and extends this research by incorpo- rating methodological innovations emerging from studies of sexual harassment of women in the United States. In addition, this work extends existing theory and re- search on the effects of sexual harassment by examining the job, health, and psycho- logical outcomes of harassment for women in a different cultural and organizational context. Before presenting and discussing the main findings of our study, we review research on the incidence and dimensions of sexual harassment of women in the workplace, focusing on studies of military personnel. We also review research on the SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE SWEDISH MILITARY 163
consequences of sexual harassment on women���s job, health, and psychological out- comes to provide context for the hypotheses examined in our study. INCIDENCE AND DIMENSIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE Contemporary studies of sexual harassment of women in both military and civilian settings have used various methodologies to estimate incidence rates for sexual ha- rassment.1 Illies and colleagues (2003) meta-analyzed studies that used direct and indirect measurement approaches that employed probability and non-probability sampling across institutional and organizational settings in the United States. They found that for studies using direct measurement approaches, anywhere from 24% to 51% of women were sexually harassed at U.S.-based institutions and organiza- tions (Illies et al., 2003). An illustrative example of this finding can be observed in studies of U.S. military personnel (Culbertson & Rosenfeld, 1994, 1996 Rosen & Martin, 1998). Rosen and Martin (1998) found that 37% of Army women in their sample reported that they were sexually harassed in the past year. Culbertson and her colleagues found that approximately 40% of Navy women and 30% of Marine Corps women in their samples reported that they were sexually harassed in the past year (Culbertson & Rosenfeld, 1994, 1996). In contrast, Illies and colleagues (2003) found that for studies using indirect measurement approaches, anywhere from 58 to 84% of women were sexually ha- rassed at U.S.-based institutions and organizations. An illustrative example of these findings can be observed in large scale studies of U.S. military personnel (Bastian et al., 1996 Fitzgerald et al., 1999 Lipari & Lancaster, 2003 Lipari et al., 2005) that have used the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire developed for the U.S. Department of Defense (SEQ-DoD Fitzgerald et al., 1999 Stark, Chernyshenko, Lancaster, Drasgow, & Fitzgerald, 2002). Bastian et al. (1996) reported that 78% of women on active duty in the U.S. military experienced some form of sexually harassing behavior in the previous 12 months Lipari and Lancaster (2003) re- ported that 24% of women on active duty in the U.S. military experienced some type of sexual harassment in the previous 12 months Lipari et al. (2005) reported that 19% of women reservists in the U.S. military experienced some type of sexual harassment in the previous 12 months. Similar results are reported in studies of 164 ESTRADA AND BERGGREN 1Direct measurement approaches rely on the respondents���definitions of sexual harassment and ask them to assess whether they have been sexually harassed at work or during the conduct of work-related activities (Culbertson & Rosenfeld, 1993 Lengnick-Hall, 1995). Indirect measurement approaches ask respondents to indicate the frequency with which they have experienced specific behaviors (e.g., sexual teasing, jokes, and remarks) using graded-response scales (e.g., never to very often Culbertson & Rosenfeld, 1993 Lengnick-Hall, 1995).
military cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. military academies (Government Ac- counting Office, 1994, 1995 Lipari et al., 2006). Research examining the nature of sexual harassment of women has used indi- rect measurement approaches to identify the dimensions of sexual harassment (Illies et al., 2003). Typically, respondents are presented with a range of behavioral exemplars that include quid pro quo forms of harassment���which refer to un- wanted sex-related behaviors that are imposed as a condition of employment���and hostile environment harassment���which refers to unwanted sex-related behaviors that unreasonably interfere with an individual���s job performance or create an in- timidating, hostile, or offensive work environment (Equal Employment Opportu- nity Commission [EEOC], 1980). Large-scale studies of U.S. military personnel, which used the SEQ-DoD (e.g., Bastian et al., 1996 Lipari & Lancaster, 2003 Lipari et al., 2005), have documented participants���experiences of four general cat- egories of sexually harassing behaviors that include sexist behaviors, crude or of- fensive behaviors, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion. Bastian et al. (1996) found that among women surveyed in 1995, 53% experienced sexist behav- iors, 63% crude or offensive behaviors, 42% experienced unwanted sexual atten- tion, and 13% experienced sexually coercive behaviors in the previous 12 months. Lipari et al. (2003) found that among women surveyed in 2002, 50% experienced sexist behaviors, 45% crude or offensive behaviors, 27% experienced unwanted sexual attention, and 8% experienced sexually coercive behaviors in the previous 12 months. Similar results are reported in studies of reserve component personnel and cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies (Lipari et al., 2005, 2006). CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT Research examining the impact of sexual harassment has shown that sexual harass- ment has negative consequences for individuals and organizations (Dansky & Kil- patrick, 1997 Lapierre et al., 2005 USMSPB, 1981, 1988, 1995 Willness et al., 2007). For example, sexual harassment can lead to decreased morale and high lev- els of absenteeism (USMSPB, 1981, 1988, 1995), lowered job satisfaction and or- ganizational commitment (Culbertson et al., 1992 Lapierre et al., 2005 Schneider et al., 1997 Willness et al., 2007), and deterioration in interpersonal relations at work (Gutek, 1985 Schneider, et al., 1997 Willness et al., 2007). There are also negative effects of sexual harassment on psychological and physical health (Dan- sky & Kilpatrick, 1997 Magley, Waldo, Drasgow, & Fitzgerald, 1999 Schneider et al., 1997). For example, sexual harassment can lead to increases in anger (Gutek, 1985 Tong, 1984), anxiety, fear, and depression (Koss, 1990 McCormack, 1985) feelings of humiliation and alienation lowered self-esteem and self-confidence (Gutek, 1985 Tong, 1984) as well as nervousness and stress (Gutek, 1985 Koss, 1990). Harassed individuals have also reported various physical health problems SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE SWEDISH MILITARY 165
including inability to sleep, tiredness, jaw tightness, grinding of teeth, headaches, crying spells, and nausea (Gutek, 1985 Koss, 1990 Webb, 1994). SUMMARY AND STUDY HYPOTHESES Sexual harassment appears to be a common experience for women in the military workplace (Bastian et al., 1996 Lipari & Lancaster, 2003 Lipari et al., 2005). More- over, the incidence of sexual harassment across studies appears to vary as a function of the measurement approach used to assess and estimate sexual harassment rates. Sexual harassment rates based on direct measures tend to be lower than estimates based on indirect measures (Culbertson & Rosenfeld, 1993 Gruber, 1990, 1992 Illies et al., 2003 Legnick-Hall, 1995). Accordingly, we hypothesize that sexual ha- rassment rates will vary as a function of measurement approach, with direct mea- sures yielding lower estimates than indirect measures. Research on the nature of sex- ual harassment indicates that hostile work environment forms of sexual harassment are experienced more frequently than quid pro quo forms of sexual harassment. In studies of military personnel, this pattern includes sexist behaviors, crude or offen- sive behaviors, unwanted sexual attention, and sexually coercive behaviors (Bastian et al., 1996 Lipari & Lancaster, 2003 Lipari et al., 2005). Accordingly, we hypothe- size that hostile environment harassment will be experienced more frequently than quid pro quo harassment���such that the incidence rates for sexist behaviors, crude or offensive behaviors, and unwanted sexual attention will be higher than the rates for sexually coercive behaviors. Research on the consequences of sexual harassment in- dicates that harassment can negatively impact job, health, and psychological out- comes of women in the military (Culbertson & Rosenfeld, 1994, 1996 Magley, Waldo, et al., 1999 Willness et al., 2007). Accordingly, we hypothesize that sexual harassment will have a similar negative effect on women���s job satisfaction, organiza- tional commitment, and work group effectiveness and a similar negative effect on their psychological and physical health. There are several reasons why we would expect these hypotheses to describe the incidence, nature, and impact of sexual harassment of women in the Swedish culture. First, cross-cultural research on societal values (e.g., Hofstede, 1980, 2001 Rokeach, 1973, 1974 Rokeach & Ball-Rokeach, 1989 Schwartz, 1994, 1996) and cross-cultural stereotypes (e.g., Block, 1973 Carlsson, Andersson, Berg, Jaderquist, & Magnusson, 1984 Daun, 1989 Foa et al., 1987 Glick et al., 2000 Haas, 1982, 1986 Intons-Peterson, 1988 Phillips-Martinsson, 1991 Wil- liams & Best, 1990) suggest that there are similarities and differences with respect to human values and gender stereotypes across nations. Importantly, this research indicates that U.S. and Swedish cultures are similar with respect to a number of cultural value dimensions but also differ substantively with regard to values concerning gender and sex role beliefs. For example, Hofstede (1980, 2001) and 166 ESTRADA AND BERGGREN