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Sexual misconduct reporting: the silencing effects of hegemonic masculinity

Chelsie J. Smith (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Kathryne E. Dupré (Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Angela M. Dionisi (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 12 December 2022

Issue publication date: 28 March 2023




Drawing on hegemonic masculinity theory, this study provides evidence supporting how gender, race and sexual identity, may shape the rates of sexual misconduct reporting, by keeping those targets who traditionally enjoy positions of power (i.e. white, cisgender men) silent.


Across 3,230 gender harassment, 890 sexual advance harassment and 570 sexual assault incidents that occurred within a traditionally masculine organization, the authors conducted tests of independence and hierarchical regression analyses to examine whether targets' social identity characteristics (i.e. sex, race, sexuality and gender alignment), predicted the reporting of sexual misconduct.


Although reporting rates varied based on the type of incident, white men were less likely than their colleagues to report workplace sexual misconduct. In general, men were approximately half as likely as women to report. Lower rates of reporting were similarly seen among all white (vs BIPOC) targets and all cisgender and heterosexual (vs LGBT) targets, when controlling for other identity characteristics.


Research on sexual misconduct has largely privileged the experiences of (white, heterosexual) women, despite knowledge that men, too, can experience this mistreatment. This research broadens this lens and challenges the notion that sexual misconduct reporting rates are uniform across employee groups. By articulating how the pressures of hegemonic masculinity serve to silence certain targets – including and especially white, cisgender men – the authors provide means of better understanding and addressing workplace sexual misconduct underreporting.



This research was supported by funds to the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Statistics Canada. Although the research and analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada. Portions of this work contributed to the first author’s Master’s thesis, while other portions were presented in a paper session at the 81st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (2021).


Smith, C.J., Dupré, K.E. and Dionisi, A.M. (2023), "Sexual misconduct reporting: the silencing effects of hegemonic masculinity", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 398-415.



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