University of Twente Student Theses


Sexual harassment in academia : a policy topic with blurred lines

Schutte, Didre (2019) Sexual harassment in academia : a policy topic with blurred lines.

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Abstract:In 2017 a movement under the label “#MeToo” globally brought renewed attention to sexual harassment at work. Despite the important role universities fulfill in society and some of the specific characteristics of academia, as of 2018 scientific enquiry into the state of affairs at universities had been minimal for years. To gain insights into how sexual harassment was being handled as a policy topic, and to identify strengths and weaknesses in its policy framework, relevant policies of four Dutch universities were obtained through their websites. It was found that the Dutch universities had policy frameworks which had advanced to different levels. Dutch universities also displayed an awareness of the topic, and seemed rather capable of dealing with various challenges in defining the problem. They showed the capacity to come up with a range of preventative efforts, and had well-developed policy surrounding confidential advisors and a specialized committee for handling complaints. On the other hand, it was found that turning good intentions into good action with connections to the organization’s goals, adding concrete actions, assigning resources, and checking back on effectiveness falling short. The universities also struggled with finding an appropriate balance between providing support to targets of sexual harassment, and protecting the organization and its members from having no breathing room. Explanations for both types of major shortcomings could be found in the underrecognized presence of competing interests beside a hard stance against sexual harassment. Some recommendations are provided for universities to consider when further developing their sexual harassment policy framework.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:06 documentary information, 70 social sciences in general, 88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
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