Heather McLaughlin ’09 Interviewed for New Yorker Article on Repercussions of Sexual Harassment

The New Yorker Online: The Daily Comment

Fox News and the Repercussions of Sexual Harassment

One of the surprising things about the Fox News sexual-harassment story is that the women who have come forward with allegations include several of the network’s better-known anchors and reporters….

To some researchers who’ve studied sexual harassment, though, the Fox News scenario doesn’t look like that much of an outlier. For one thing, some studies have found that women in positions of authority, especially in workplaces that are dominated by men, may be more likely to experience sexual harassment than women in lower-status positions. In a 2012 study called “Sexual Harassment, Workplace Authority, and the Paradox of Power,” the authors—Heather McLaughlin, Christopher Uggen, and Amy Blackstone—found that women in supervisor positions were more likely than non-supervisors to say that they had been sexually harassed on the job in the previous year. (This doesn’t seem to have been merely because supervisors as a group may be more knowledgeable about what constitutes harassment—the same pattern did not hold true for male supervisors and subordinates, for example.) When I spoke with McLaughlin, who is now a professor of sociology at Oklahoma State University, she called the study’s finding “counterintuitive,” because “to most people the most common scenario is still the powerful male boss and the vulnerable female secretary.” That scenario still happens, of course, but sexual harassment may be even more prevalent, she said, where women are “gaining power in the workplace, and it becomes a way of trying to reestablish who’s actually in charge.”

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