How to Have Sexual Harassment Policies

Donna Dean, PhD: How to Have Sexual Harassment Policies

How to be upfront, direct, and assertive when confronting instances of sexual harassment.

Video Transcript

Dr. Donna Dean's Bio

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Transcript: How to Have Sexual Harassment Policies

I think at that time of course, there were no sexual harassment rules, procedures, policies. It was just something that didn't happen. I think in today's environment, what I would do is that I would have taken that test paper with the poor grade, and I would have walked into the professor—making sure that there were maybe people in the outer office or other people around—and would have gone in and said, "Can you explain to me why you gave me minus 20 points on this question, and you gave my male classmate minus 2. Can you explain?" And listen to what he said, and then depending on what he said, then I would have taken that and said, "I think you and I need to go talk to the department chair about this." Because if there had been a sexual harassment policy, or "how are we going to make my grade commensurate with my colleague's grade that is identical?"

Although I suspect this guy under sexual harassment procedures now would have been very cleaver to have found a way to wiggle out of it. But I think I would have been a little more upfront about dealing with it. Actually I did deal, you know, had been more upfront in later stages of my career when there were sexual overtures made to me, or sexual harassment or maybe a supervisor who appeared to want favors for a bonus or other things. To just say, "You know that's illegal." But I think if you're going to confront someone, and they outrank you and they have more power than you, you have to reach them on a level that's going to get their attention like, "I'm sure you wouldn't want to be the only professor in this department who has females who are saying that you are trying to sexually harass them; that that will destroy your reputation." I would like to think I would confront it face on in a more direct way.

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