Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

John J. Rearden


The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate the subject of sexual harassment. A total of 82 women were recruited from central Illinois to fill out a questionnaire on sexual harassment and the Assertiveness Inventory (Gambrill and Richey, 1975). An attempt was made to control the subjects for occupational levels. Their occupational levels ranged from physician to unskilled worker, and their educational levels ranged from a high school degree to an advanced degree. The women in this sample worked full-time, part-time, and did volunteer work.

All of the women filled out the Assertiveness Inventory, a 40-item self-report, (Gambrill and Richey, 1975) and the sexual harassment questionnaire, an 18-item multiple choice form, which contained demographic and other pertinent variables.

Significant differences were found when comparing response probability and demographic data and comparing sexual harassment incidents and demographic data. Results indicated that women who had the highest response probability scores saw sexual harassment as less serious, and thought of their jobs in more negative terms than women with lower response probability scores. These women were younger, from lower educational and occupational levels, and of average attractiveness.

When utilizing an assertiveness score instead of the response probability score, it was found that women who were labeled assertive were from higher occupational categories. The same women reported positive attitudes about their work.

Significant differences were found when comparing incidents of sexual harassment and demographic data. It was found that single and divorced women report more instances of being grabbed; women report fewer sexual remarks when they are working with fewer men; women in lower occupational levels report being grabbed, propositioned, and reacting with anger more; women with partial college education report more sexual remarks and hints. No significant differences were found when comparing incidents of sexual harassment and assertive and response probability scores. Implications of this study were discussed.