Sexual Harassment in Higher Education: Experiences and Perceptions among Students at a Danish University

Bontu Guschke, Kaitlin A. Busse, Farhiya Khalid, Sara Louise Muhr, Sine Nørholm Just

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Taking higher education to be an arena in which professional and social interaction has a special propensity to overlap, this paper investigates university students’ experiences and perceptions of sexual harassment. Based on survey data, we find varying responses according to their gender and nationality, indicating that men and Danish students are least likely to experience and perceive situations as sexual harassment. Further, we find a wide-spread normalization of certain potentially offensive acts and behaviours. In addition, students report varying degrees of acceptability of certain acts, depending on context. On this basis, we argue that normalization hinders individual students’ ability to recognize and denounce sexual harassment. The influence of social norms on individual experiences and perceptions, we assert, means sexual harassment is neither an objective category nor an individual responsibility. In consequence, issues of sexual harassment can only be dealt with if and when universities assume responsibility for the norms that prevail within their spheres of influence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalKvinder, Køn & Forskning
Volume28
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)11-30
Number of pages20
ISSN0907-6182
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Sexual harassment
  • University students
  • Denmark
  • Normalization

Cite this

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title = "Sexual Harassment in Higher Education: Experiences and Perceptions among Students at a Danish University",
abstract = "Taking higher education to be an arena in which professional and social interaction has a special propensity to overlap, this paper investigates university students’ experiences and perceptions of sexual harassment. Based on survey data, we find varying responses according to their gender and nationality, indicating that men and Danish students are least likely to experience and perceive situations as sexual harassment. Further, we find a wide-spread normalization of certain potentially offensive acts and behaviours. In addition, students report varying degrees of acceptability of certain acts, depending on context. On this basis, we argue that normalization hinders individual students’ ability to recognize and denounce sexual harassment. The influence of social norms on individual experiences and perceptions, we assert, means sexual harassment is neither an objective category nor an individual responsibility. In consequence, issues of sexual harassment can only be dealt with if and when universities assume responsibility for the norms that prevail within their spheres of influence.",
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Sexual Harassment in Higher Education : Experiences and Perceptions among Students at a Danish University. / Guschke, Bontu; Busse, Kaitlin A.; Khalid, Farhiya; Muhr, Sara Louise; Just, Sine Nørholm.

In: Kvinder, Køn & Forskning, Vol. 28, No. 1-2, 2019, p. 11-30.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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T2 - Experiences and Perceptions among Students at a Danish University

AU - Guschke, Bontu

AU - Busse, Kaitlin A.

AU - Khalid, Farhiya

AU - Muhr, Sara Louise

AU - Just, Sine Nørholm

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AB - Taking higher education to be an arena in which professional and social interaction has a special propensity to overlap, this paper investigates university students’ experiences and perceptions of sexual harassment. Based on survey data, we find varying responses according to their gender and nationality, indicating that men and Danish students are least likely to experience and perceive situations as sexual harassment. Further, we find a wide-spread normalization of certain potentially offensive acts and behaviours. In addition, students report varying degrees of acceptability of certain acts, depending on context. On this basis, we argue that normalization hinders individual students’ ability to recognize and denounce sexual harassment. The influence of social norms on individual experiences and perceptions, we assert, means sexual harassment is neither an objective category nor an individual responsibility. In consequence, issues of sexual harassment can only be dealt with if and when universities assume responsibility for the norms that prevail within their spheres of influence.

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