The reasonable woman standard: a meta-analytic review of gender differences in perceptions of sexual harassment.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Courts and legislatures have begun to develop the "reasonable woman standard" (RWS) as a criterion for deciding sexual harassment trials. This standard rests on assumptions of a "wide divergence" between the perceptions of men and women when viewing social-sexual behavior that may be considered harassing. Narrative reviews of the literature on such perceptions have suggested that these assumptions are only minimally supported. To test these assumptions quantitatively, a meta-analytic review was conducted that assessed the size, stability, and moderators of gender differences in perceptions of sexual harassment. The effect of the actor's status relative to the target also was evaluated meta-analytically, as one alternative to the importance of gender effects. Results supported the claims of narrative reviews for a relatively small gender effect, and draw attention to the status effect. In discussing legal implications of the present findings, earlier claims are echoed suggesting caution in establishing the reasonable woman standard, and one alternative to the RWS, the "reasonable victim standard," is discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Blumenthal, JA

Published Date

  • February 1998

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 33 - 57

PubMed ID

  • 9487790

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0147-7307

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1023/a:1025724721559


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States