A meta-analytic review of gender differences in perceptions of sexual harassment

J Appl Psychol. 2001 Oct;86(5):914-22. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.86.5.914.


Research on gender differences in perceptions of sexual harassment informs an ongoing legal debate regarding the use of a reasonable person standard instead of a reasonable woman standard to evaluate sexual harassment claims. The authors report a meta-analysis of 62 studies of gender differences in harassment perceptions. An earlier quantitative review combined all types of social-sexual behaviors for a single meta-analysis; the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the magnitude of the female-male difference varies by type of behavior. An overall standardized mean difference of 0.30 was found, suggesting that women perceive a broader range of social-sexual behaviors as harassing. However, the meta-analysis also found that the female-male difference was larger for behaviors that involve hostile work environment harassment, derogatory attitudes toward women, dating pressure, or physical sexual contact than sexual propositions or sexual coercion.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Harassment*
  • Social Behavior