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Looking the other way: how ideology influences perceptions of sexual harassment

New publication from Claire M. Gothreau in European Journal of Politics and Gender



Little research has systematically examined the relationship between ideology and perceptions of sexual harassment. Recognising differences in the way in which sexual harassment and assault were discussed on political programming and social media by partisans, we posed the following questions: (1) ‘Is there an ideological difference in perceptions of observed sexual harassment?’; and (2) ‘Is there also an ideological difference in perceptions of personally experienced sexual harassment?’ Using data from two studies, we find that conservatives are less likely than liberals to perceive and label both ambiguous and unambiguous situations as sexual harassment. Our third study – a survey of adult women – demonstrates that compared to liberal women, conservative women report significantly fewer instances of personally experienced gender discrimination and sexual harassment than liberal women. These results indicate that both observed and lived experiences of sexual harassment are linked to one’s ideological belief structures.