Is a Reasonable Woman Different from a Reasonable Person? Gender Differences in Perceived Sexual Harassment. By: Rothgerber, Hank; Kaufling, Katie; Incorvati, Ciara; Andrew, C. Blake; Farmer, Allison. Sex Roles. 2021, Vol. 84 Issue 3/4, p208-220. 13p.

Although the problem of sexual harassment can be approached from a variety of perspectives, the present research focused on the role played by individuals’ perceptions, specifically those that may differ between men and women. We examined whether perceived sexual harassment would vary depending on observers’ gender, on gender of the harasser and of the victim, and on whether and what type of sexual harassment definition was provided to observers. In doing so, we attempted to update and clarify inconsistent results from prior studies. Results from 413 young adult U.S. MTurk participants responding to an online survey revealed fairly large effects for participants’ gender, such that women perceived a wider range of situations as sexual harassment than did men. In addition, the dyad of a man harassing a woman was construed as more definitely involving sexual harassment than other dyads. Surprisingly, these gender differences were smaller for situations judged as comprising sexual harassment to a lesser extent (i.e., those involving derogatory attitudes and nonsexual physical contact). Results are discussed in relation to prior findings and their legal implications, especially as they relate to a psychological assumption of the so-called “reasonable woman” standard used in U.S. courts, that women perceive sexual harassment to a greater degree than men. The results are also relevant for those wishing to curtail harassment within organizations and for those counseling victims of sexual harassment.