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In recent years, the adverse impacts of harassment on career outcomes of women and racial minorities in academic engineering have been increasingly recognized. The way individuals define harassment has important implications for designing prevention programs and the ability of the engineering community to recognize and address this issue. This paper explores how undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty and staff in engineering define harassment in response to open-ended questions. The study is based on semi-structured individual interviews from 92 participants at two research universities in the United States. To build a comprehensive understanding of harassment, content analysis was used to identify themes in participants’ responses. We also explored whether and how participants associate harassment with their own identity (e.g., gender, race). Participants recognized three overarching types of harassment: sexual (e.g., unwanted sexual attention), identity-based (e.g., race, gender), and general (i.e., neither sexual nor identity-based). Participants revealed a spectrum of behavioral indicators, including offensive language (e.g., comments, jokes), discrimination, and disrespectful behaviors. Whereas women and men perceived similar behaviors as indicators of harassment, the types of harassment were somewhat related to their social identity and status at the university (e.g., student, faculty). The implications of the findings for future research and practice are discussed.
Hedayati Mehdiabadi, A., & Moschella-Smith, E., & Htun, M. (2022, August), Defining Harassment in Academic Engineering: A Study of Student, Faculty, and Staff Perceptions Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41067
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