Sexual Harassment And Women Of Color

Despite considerable progress over the past several decades, gender and racial inequalities remain across all sectors of the labor market; thus, working women of color are disadvantaged in the employment sector,69,70 and this reality may influence how they are sexually harassed. Although sparse, theoretical and empirical work examining women of color and sexual harassment is growing, but many questions about their experiences remain unanswered.71 Double or multiple jeopardy theory72 informs much of this body of research and suggests that because women of color are marginalized across multiple domains due to their race and gender, they are at increased risk of being victimized. Thus, sexual harassment is likely to be more frequent and more severe for women with multiple intersecting marginalized identities.73,74,75 A small, but growing, body of research supports this assertion that women of color experience more frequent and severe sexual harassment.76-78

Women of color are also at greater risk for experiencing more than one type of harassment (e.g., racial and sexual harassment). Little research has simultaneously measured multiple forms of harassment, but research with adult Black women38 and Black, Asian, and multiracial college students79 indicates that experiencing both sexual and racial harassment is associated with greater detriment to psychological, academic, and occupational outcomes. Moreover, because women of color cannot disaggregate their racial selves from their gendered selves, they are likely to experience harassment that addresses their race and gender concomitantly in the form of racialized sexual harassment.10,11 Racialized sexual harassment is similar to, yet distinct from, racial and sexual harassment, making it impossible to discern where the racial harassment ends and the sexual harassment begins (e.g., calling someone a "Black bitch").10,11 Thus, when sexual harassment is intertwined with multiple forms of workplace mistreatment, victims experience increased distress.38,40,79

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