Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in the Active-Component Army

Variation in Most Serious Event Characteristics by Gender and Installation Risk

by Avery Calkins, Matthew Cefalu, Terry L. Schell, Linda Cottrell, Sarah O. Meadows, Rebecca L. Collins

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Research Questions

  1. What types of sexual harassment and gender discrimination behaviors do soldiers in the active-component Army most often experience as part of their most serious experience of harassment or discrimination?
  2. Who is involved in sexual harassment and gender discrimination behaviors, and when and where do these situations typically occur?
  3. Are there differences in experiences across high-risk and non–high-risk installations and between men and women?

To better understand sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the Army, RAND Arroyo Center researchers created profiles of active-component soldiers' most serious sexual harassment and gender discrimination experiences. This report describes the most common types of behaviors that occur, characteristics of (alleged) perpetrators, most common times and places in which sexual harassment and gender discrimination occur, and differences between high-risk and non–high-risk installations.

Women's and men's experiences of sexual harassment and gender discrimination look broadly the same at high-risk installations compared with non–high-risk installations, and they do not appear to differ across high-risk installations. However, men's and women's experiences of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the active-component Army are very different. Women are more likely than men to experience gender discrimination, repeated attempts to establish an unwanted romantic or sexual relationship, and sexual comments about their appearance, whereas men are more likely than women to be told that they do not act like a man is supposed to act. Soldiers often experience multiple forms of sexual harassment and gender discrimination; women experience more types of behaviors, on average, than men do. What women's and men's experiences have in common is that they frequently take place at work during the workday and involve exposure to offensive or persistent discussion of and jokes about sex.

Key Findings

Men's and women's most serious experiences of sexual harassment and gender discrimination look broadly the same across the active-component Army

  • Women's most serious experiences often include gender discrimination, behaviors that might be linked to attempts to initiate a romantic or sexual relationship, and persistent or offensive sexual jokes and discussions of sex in the workplace.
  • Men's most serious experiences often include insults related to their masculinity, sexual orientation, or gender expression and persistent or offensive sexual jokes and discussions of sex in the workplace.
  • For both women and men, there are few differences between high-risk and non–high-risk installations or across high-risk installations.

Men's and women's experiences of harassment and discrimination in the Army share some common characteristics, but the behaviors experienced are different

  • Women are more likely to experience gender discrimination, repeated attempts to establish an unwanted romantic or sexual relationship, and sexual comments about their appearance, whereas men are more likely to be told that they do not act like a man is supposed to act.
  • Although the typical perpetrator in both men's and women's most serious experiences of harassment or discrimination are male enlisted military members, women are more likely to indicate that the perpetrator was their direct supervisor or another higher-ranked member of their chain of command.
  • Women's and men's experiences frequently take place at work during the workday and involve exposure to offensive or persistent discussions of and jokes about sex.

Recommendations

  • Sexual harassment and gender discrimination prevention training materials should emphasize the most common behaviors experienced (gender discrimination; persistent and offensive discussions and jokes about sex in the workplace; repeated attempts to establish an unwanted romantic or sexual relationship; and insults related to men's masculinity, sexual orientation, or gender expression).
  • The lack of clear differences across installations in the circumstances surrounding women's and men's most serious experiences of sexual harassment suggests that there is no need to tailor the content of training material for each individual installation. This does not imply that other facets of the prevention approach should be treated as a one-size-fits-all approach.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Analytic Approach

  • Chapter Three

    Women's Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in the Army

  • Chapter Four

    Men's Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in the Army

  • Chapter Five

    Comparing Women's and Men's Experiences with Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Technical Details of The Construction of Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination Profiles

  • Appendix B

    Tabular Results for Chapters 3 Through 5

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, U.S. Army and conducted by the Personnel, Training, and Health Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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