AAUW Report: Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently released a report, Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus (DTL), which continues its work on sexual harassment at all levels of education. DTL announces some disturbing findings, not least of which is that almost 2/3 of respondents indicated that they had been sexually harassed while at college or university. The college students surveyed for this report—who were drawn from 2- and 4-year schools, large and small, public and private—do not have a common definition for or understanding of sexual harassment beyond "unwanted sexual behavior." The findings also indicate "college students are reluctant to talk about sexual harassment openly and honestly and are more apt to joke or disregard the issue despite their private concerns" (4).
Below is a short breakdown of the major findings:
- 61 percent of male students and 62 percent of female students reported experiencing sexual harassment, though women reported more incidents of physical and contact harassment than did men (35 percent vs. 29 percent).
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are more likely than heterosexual students to be sexually harassed (73 percent vs. 61 percent), to be harassed often (18 versus 7 percent), and to experience non-contact and contact harassment (72 percent vs. 59 percent and 44 percent vs. 31 percent respectively).
- White students report higher rates of verbal and non-contact harassment than black and Latino students (62 percent, white; 51 percent, black; 52 percent, Latino). Black, Latino, and white students report experiencing similar levels of contact harassment (33 percent, black; 29 percent, Latino; 32 percent, white).
- 31 percent of female respondents reported having sexually harassed another person; 51 percent of male respondents answered the same.
- The top 3 reasons given for why they had harassed someone:
- Thought it was funny/joke
- Thought the person liked it/wanted it
- Thought it was just part of school life/no big deal
- Male students were more likely than female students to say they harassed someone because they thought it was funny (63 percent vs. 54 percent).
- White students were more likely than black students to report "funny/joke" as their reason for harassing (61 percent vs. 46 percent), while black students who admitted harassing someone were more likely than white students to report they did so because they thought the person wanted it (45 percent vs. 30 percent).
- Female students who experienced harassment were more likely than male students to report feeling embarrassed (57 vs. 34 percent), angry (55 vs. 32 percent), and less self-confident (35 vs. 16 percent).
- LGBT students who experience harassment were more likely than heterosexual students to report feeling angry (67 vs. 42 percent), self-conscious or embarrassed (61 vs. 45 percent), and less confident (42 vs. 25 percent). They were also more likely to report feeling scared or afraid (32 vs. 20 percent).
- 49 percent of respondents told a friend about the harassment, while 35 percent of respondents told no one about the harassment. Only 7 percent told a college/university employee. 44 percent of the men told no one (as compared with 27 percent of the women), while 61 percent of the women reported telling a friend (as compared with 36 percent of the men).
- 79 percent of respondents indicated they knew their campus had sexual harassment policies, with 60 percent saying their campus distributes written materials and 55 percent aware of a designated person or office.
In many cases, this report reinforces what many on the ground already anecdotally know, particularly in relation to who acknowledges being harassed and how different populations respond to harassment. However, the data coupled with the student voices documented in DTL have great potential significance for student leaders, campus administrators and staff, and other policymakers to use in crafting, changing, and implementing effective sexual harassment awareness education programs and disciplinary policies. The full report can be downloaded at www.aauw.org/newsroom/presskits/DTL_Press_Conf_060124/DTL_012406.cfm.
Global Media Monitoring Project: Who Makes the News?
The Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), first conducted in 1995 and again in 2000 and 2005, recently released the findings of its third project. The GMMP, undertaken through an international network including NGOs, gender and media activists, grassroots organizations, academics, journalists' associations, and church groups, "is the most extensive global research into gender in news media ever undertaken." The ultimate goal of this project is "to change media output," to influence who reports the news, who is covered in the news, and how the news and its subjects are portrayed and constructed.
The third international news monitoring day, during which individuals and organizations in 76 countries collected and analyzed almost 13,000 news stories drawn from television, radio, and print, occurred on February 16, 2005. Below are some of the major findings from the third manifestation of the GMMP.
- In 2005, women were news subjects in 21 percent of the stories analyzed, up from 18 percent in 2000.
- Women appeared as subjects most frequently in celebrity, arts, and sport stories and social and legal stories (both 28 percent), followed by crime and violence stories (22 percent0. They appeared as subjects least often in politics and government stories (14 percent).
- Women were portrayed as victims in 19 percent of stories, as opposed to the portrayal of men as victims in only 8 percent of stories. Most often, the stories referenced were not about gender-based violence, only furthering the construction of women as victims in most if not all contexts.
- The primary function women served when they were the subjects of news stories was as conveyers of popular opinion (34 percent), followed by personal experience (31 percent) and eye witness (30 percent). They appeared as an expert in only 17 percent of stories and as a spokesperson in only 14 percent of stories.
- Women functioned as presenters in 53 percent of stories, and as reporters in 37 percent of stories.
- They were most likely to serve as reporters in stories about the economy (43 percent), followed by social and legal (40 percent) and science and health (38 percent). They were least likely to serve as reporters on stories about crime and violence (33 percent) and politics and government (32 percent). They did not serve as the majority of reporters on any story topic.
- Women reported on 25 percent of stories featuring female news subjects, while men reported on 20 percent of stories with this same topic.
- Only 10 percent of stories in 2005 featured women as the central focus, the same as in 2000.
- Stories that challenged gender stereotypes comprised only 3 percent of all news stories on this day, while stories that reinforced gender stereotypes comprised 6 percent of stories.
- Stories that highlighted gender (in)equality made up only 4 percent of news stories analyzed on the international day of monitoring.
To read the full report and learn more about the GMMP, please visit www.whomakesthenews.org.
Childbirth and Maternity Policies for Female Graduate Students
Stanford University recently announced a new childbirth policy for female graduate students; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the only other U.S. college or university to adopt such a policy. Both are designed in part to attract and retain female graduate students who, like many female faculty members, often find themselves forced to choose between having children and pursuing their academic and professional goals. Stanford's policy explicitly states that it is "designed to make it possible to maintain the mother's full-time, registered student status, and to facilitate her return to full participation in class work," and other responsibilities. While the recognition by both of these institutions about the challenges around childbearing and motherhood facing female graduate students is both exciting and commendable, it is unfortunate that neither policy includes provisions for graduate students who are adopting a child or for men who wish to co-parent.
Childbirth Policy for Women Graduate Students at Stanford University
The policy affirms that all women graduate students anticipating or experiencing a birth who are registered, matriculated students
- Are eligible for an Academic Accommodation Period of up to two academic quarters before and after the birth, during which the student may postpone course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements.
- Are eligible for full-time enrollment during this period and will retain access to Stanford facilities, Cardinal Care, and Stanford housing.
- Will be granted an automatic one-quarter extension of University and departmental requirements and academic milestones, with the possibility of up to three quarters by petition under unusual circumstances.
- In addition, women graduate students supported by fellowships, teaching assistantships, and/or research assistantships will be excused from their regular TA or RA duties for a period of six weeks during which they will continue to receive support.
MIT Childbirth Accommodation
MIT's policy is applicable to full-time, registered female students, and is limited to women who anticipate giving birth. It is administered through a petition process, with final approval given by the Dean for Graduate Students. According to the Graduate Student Council, "all funds for the new policy will come from the Childbirth Accommodation Insurance Pool, a collection of funds contributed by the Academic Deans and the Provost."
- Eligible students "may choose a period of one month, one and a half months, or two months maximum for their period of accommodation."
- During this period, students whose support comes from an RA or TA appointment will receive support through the insurance pool. For RAs, the insurance pool will cover both the stipend and tuition; for TAs, the pool will cover only the stipend/salary component, though the student "will not be responsible for the TA tuition component."
- Students whose support comes from internal MIT fellowships usually receive lump sum payments at the start of each term. They are "not entitled to additional payments from the Childbirth Accommodation Insurance Pool." Students whose fellowship support comes from outside funders must comply with the rules and regulations set out by those funders.
- "Normally, approval of Childbirth Accommodation will stop the academic and research clock with regard to assignments due, reports anticipated, or other class and research related requirements." In cases where these clocks are not automatically stopped, the university encourages departments and faculty to make appropriate arrangements with students.
For more information on Stanford's policy, visit www.stanford.edu/dept/DoR/GSH/childbirth.html. To learn more about the MIT policy, visit either the Graduate Student Council site at web.mit.edu/gsc/www/studentlife/family/maternity.shtml or the Graduate Student Office site at web.mit.edu/gso/.
Center for the Education of Women Report, Family-Friendly Policies in Higher Education: Where Do We Stand?
The University of Michigan's Center for the Education of Women (CEW) recently released a report entitled, Family-Friendly Policies in Higher Education: Where Do We Stand?. This report, which is part of The Dual Ladder in Higher Education—Research, Resources, and the Academic Workforce Dual Ladder Clearinghouse project funded by the Sloan Foundation, provides an overview of the family-friendly policies currently in existence at different types of U.S. colleges and universities. Where Do We Stand? names its goal as helping administrators in higher education:
- Understand the types of family-friendly policies now in place at institutions across the country.
- Identify which policies they might implement at their own institutions.
- Determine where their institutions stand in relation to their peers.
Based on a review of current literature, the report lifts out three general categories that encompass most "family-friendly" policies in colleges and universities. They include tenure-clock extension, modified duties, and leave in excess of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), though the report also refers to additional policies including reduced appointment, employment assistance for spouses/partners, paid dependent care leave, and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Where Do We Stand? also assesses the status of these various policies in higher education, examining the differences in policies across institutional types, exploring whether policies were institution-wide and formal or informal, and evaluating multiple factors affecting policy eligibility.
Here are some key findings and recommendations:
- Research institutions offer the most institution-wide, formal family-friendly policies, though they employ the lowest number of tenure-track and tenured faculty women of the various types of institutions.
- Baccalaureate institutions defined as "elite" have policies that most closely mirror those of research institutions in terms of numbers, which the authors interpret as "suggest[ing] a relationship between perceived institutional prestige and the number of institution-wide, formal policies."
- The type of policies offered depends on the type of institution surveyed. The least expensive policies, which include tenure-clock extension and leave-in-excess-of-FMLA, are found more frequently than other types of policies at institutions across the Carnegie spectrum, with tenure-clock extension policies in particular are most often found at research institutions. However, these policies are offered by fewer than half of all institutions that are not research universities.
- Colleges and universities are more likely to have formal, institution-wide policies than informal ones, particularly regarding tenure-track extension and leave-in-excess-of-FMLA. This does not hold true for modified duties policies, which tend to be more informal and therefore applied on a more case-by-case or departmental level.
- Dependent care leaves are usually not restricted by gender, though it is becoming more and more common for an institution to require a faculty member requesting this type of leave to "declare or certify that they will be "primary," "major," or "substantial" caregivers during the time of their leaves.
- Both tenure-track and tenured faculty members seem to be eligible for family-friendly policies, though non-instructional research faculty from the institutional sample are eligible for these policies only about half as often as tenure-track and tenured faculty.
The authors of Where Do We Stand? encourage higher education administrators to engage in comparisons between the data presented in this report and the policies at their own institutions, and also to begin asking key questions about the type and scope of family-friendly policies offered at their home institutions. The report also proposes questions for further research, both at institutional and national levels. Copies of this report can be downloaded, free of charge, from the CEW website: www.cew.umich.edu/PDFs/pubs/wherestand.pdf.