SANCTIFIED SEXISM: RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND THE GENDER HARASSMENT OF ACADEMIC WOMEN

Authors


  • M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University; Brad Christerson, Department of Sociology, Biola University; Shelly Cunningham, Center for Learning Enrichment, Assessment, and Research, Biola University.

  • We extend our thanks to the Provost's Office and a Faculty Development Grant for funding this research.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, 13800 Biola Ave., La Mirada, CA 90639. E-mail: liz.hall@biola.edu

Abstract

The present study explored gender harassment in the context of Christian higher education. Specifically, we examined ways in which the theologically based gender schemas in these settings might affect the experiences of harassment among male and female faculty. A questionnaire containing measures of harassment and two aspects of institutional climate (the degree to which the participant feels he or she has influence in the academic unit and perceived access to information about academic life and advancement) was sent to all faculty at a single university; 138 responses (a 65% response rate) were received. Of these, 89 (68%) were male and 42 (32%) female, closely resembling the gender distribution of the faculty. Results indicated that attributing discrimination to the Christian beliefs of the perpetrator moderated the effects of harassment on the two organizational climate variables, potentiating the negative effects at higher levels of harassment. These results suggest that the religious context of institutions should be taken into account in confronting sexism in religiously committed settings. Effective interventions should be tailored to address theological concerns in order to counteract the implied immutability of theologically based sexist statements.

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