A researcher at the University of California Berkeley has found that sexual harassment courses aimed at preventing sexual harassment and sex and gender discrimination may actually provoke a backlash in men, making them less likely to perceive inappropriate behavior and more likely to blame victims.
The researcher behind the study, a professor of law and sociology, stated that after completing the training, men may be more likely to brush aside allegations and discount victims’ allegations. The findings emphasize that training sessions are often more about “symbolic compliance” than actual prevention of harm. In other words, the training is solely devised to demonstrate compliance in a legal context. The study suggests that more research needs to be done on what actually works to discourage harassment in an employment setting, instead of just focusing on diminishing employers’ legal liability.
Another study in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science found that men who participated in the training were “significantly less likely” to consider coercive behaviors toward subordinates or students as sexual harassment when compared to a control group that had not completed the training. Men who completed the training were also significantly less likely to report harassment.
The findings suggest that the men’s responses may be a backlash against a perceived attack and an effort at self-preservation; the forced training may make some men feel afraid that they will be subject to false accusations. According to another researcher, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Georgia, trainings tend to reinforce men’s feelings that women are duplicitous in that they both desire sexual attention, but do not want to be harassed. This researcher suggests that the cartoonish, exaggerated style that characterizes many of these training sessions tends to make participants not take the message seriously and can cause feelings of resentment.
This research was conducted at UC Berkeley, where there have been several high-profile faculty misconduct scandals in recent months. A famous astronomer, a tenure-track professor, and the law school dean all faced light punishments after the university substantiated allegations of harassment against them.
All of the research data shows that universities and other employers must focus on adopting programs that work instead of focusing on reducing legal liability.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for Victims of Sexual Harassment at Work
If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed or discriminated against in the workplace, the experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. can help you pursue compensation and hold responsible parties accountable for their unlawful actions. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online today.