This article aims to examine the sexual harassment experiences of US policewomen by using the Sexual Experience Questionnaire (SEQ) and asking them to describe incidents in which male colleagues’ behavior made them uncomfortable. It seeks to identify areas of discomfort and patterns of response in the context of current harassment policies.
A convenience sample included 117 female law enforcement officers in the USA from two sheriff, two police, and one state police department. Participants completed surveys in small groups with the researcher present.
Study participants were especially concerned about male colleagues' view that women could not “do the job”. Sexual harassment policies and the integration of women into work groups with men influenced how women viewed and reacted to discomforting behaviors.
The findings are consistent with those from a broader national sample and international research. Further study of the effects of US women's tolerance of sexual joking and remarks is needed.
Organizational efforts to stop sexual harassment seemed to have brought some benefits to policewomen, as has their integration into all facets of police work. Still, women's concern that male colleagues think they cannot “do the job” persists, and tolerated harassment may negatively affect some women.
The qualitative data analysis shows the complexity of women's tolerance of behaviors in the workplace in order to fit in, and how working along with men heightens concerns about being seen as incapable of doing certain aspects of the job well.
Somvadee, C. and Morash, M. (2008), "Dynamics of sexual harassment for policewomen working alongside men", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 485-498. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510810895821Download as .RIS
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