Summer 2018

The price of sexual harassment


Chris Uggen takes the long view when it comes to understanding the consequences of sexual harassment. 

As a Regents Professor and the Martindale Chair of Sociology and Law in the U’s College of Liberal Arts, he began studying the long-term effects of sexual harassment in 2000, following middle school girls as they progressed to the workforce.

One key finding: women in positions of authority are more likely to be harassed and leave their jobs than women who are not in such positions, and their harassers are often subordinates, clients, or in the case of doctors, patients. 

In addition, 80 percent of the women who were harassed quit their jobs within two years. “We knew harassment was linked to economic outcomes, and now we’ve identified that turnover is the mechanism connecting financial strain and harassment,” says Uggen, who also is working on President Eric Kaler’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct at the U. 

Support from the National Institutes of Health, combined with his endowed professorships, has enabled Uggen to pursue this work. “This is a nice example of the kind of research that is done in partnership between national science agencies and local support,” he says.