Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0525-6182

Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Nursing

Department/School/Program

Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. Ellen Hahn

Abstract

Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of workplace violence in the United States. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted verbal and physical behaviors of a sexual nature (e.g., physical advances, requests for sexual favors, inappropriate sexist or sexual comments or jokes, pornography, or other unwanted conduct) that creates an uncomfortable working environment or interferes with the employee’s job responsibilities. In general, it is estimated that nearly one in every two women have experienced sexual harassment at the workplace over their lifetime. In male-dominated occupations, such as truck driving, law enforcement, firefighting, and construction, females may have a higher-than-average risk of workplace sexual harassment, as their male counterparts may have more power and influence over their working environment. Organizational antecedents, or risk factors, for sexual harassment have been identified in general workplaces such as academia; however, research on organizational antecedents for sexual harassment in male-dominated occupations is limited. Identifying organizational antecedents of sexual harassment in the workplace can guide employers on the development of policies that could prevent or reduce the physical, psychological, and work-related consequences of workplace sexual harassment in male-dominated occupations.

The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the organizational antecedents associated with workplace sexual harassment in the male-dominated occupation of truck driving. The specific aims were to 1) conduct a systematic review of the research on the antecedents that put women at risk for and responses to sexual harassment in selected male-dominated occupations and identify gaps in research; 2) evaluate the psychometric properties of the author-developed Sexual Harassment Organizational Antecedent (SHOA) scale; and 3) examine the relationships between perceived organizational antecedents, demographic variables, and sexual harassment; and determine associations between job control, workplace culture, and self-reported sexual harassment, controlling for age, race, ethnicity, income, and tenure. A cross-sectional study design was used to develop and test a measure of organizational antecedents of sexual harassment and to examine the association with sexually harassing behaviors in a convenience sample of 236 female truck drivers who were at least 21 years of age, held a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL-A), and had a minimum of 3-months truck driving experience. Female truck drivers were recruited via social media, email, online newsletters, and word of mouth and invited to complete an anonymous online survey comprised of the 15-item author-developed SHOA scale to assess job control and workplace culture; and the 18- item Sexual Experiences Questionnaire-Workplace version to measure self-reported sexually harassing behaviors while on the job.

Important gaps in the research on sexual harassment of female truck drivers were identified. The systematic literature review revealed inconsistent theoretical models guiding research with male-dominated occupations of law enforcement, firefighting, and construction, and there was limited research on the sexual harassment of female truck drivers. Organizational antecedents of and female responses to sexual harassment have been identified in the law enforcement, firefighting, and construction occupations, but in truck driving, sexual harassment has been studied as a part of workplace violence within the context of personal health, not as a specific phenomenon. Another gap was a lack of standard instruments to measure organizational antecedents that put females at risk for sexual harassment in the workplace. The 15-item author developed SHOA scale used in this study was developed based on constructs from the Sexual Harassment in Organizational Context Model. Psychometric evaluation of the SHOA scale revealed an overall reliable and valid instrument with two reliable and valid subscales: job control and workplace culture as organizational antecedents of sexual harassment in female truck drivers. However, research is needed to develop and test measures of formal grievance policies and peer relationships and to examine their associations with sexual harassment of female truck drivers. Finally, the SHOA scale, and the two subscales of job control and workplace culture were associated with sexual harassment in a sample of female truck drivers. In this convenience sample of female truck drivers, 92% reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual harassment in the workplace. Female truck drivers who reported more control over their jobs and a more positive workplace culture reported fewer incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace. When controlling for age, race, ethnicity, income, and tenure, workplace culture, age, and tenure accounted for 43% of the variance in self-reported sexual harassment. Female truck drivers who reported greater job security, less conflict with dispatchers, less physically demanding jobs, and equal pay and job opportunities in the workplace reported fewer incidences of sexual harassment. Older female drivers and those with less time driving a truck (shorter tenure) were less likely to report sexual harassment in the workplace. Women who lived in the West and Midwest indicated a greater number of incidences of sexual harassment.

This study evaluated female truck drivers’ perceptions of organizational antecedents and experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace. Future studies need to include measures to determine if respondents based their answers on their current company or a company where they previously worked. In addition, it would be important to determine the time frame in which sexually harassing behaviors occurred. Future studies are also needed to examine and compare perceptions of organizational antecedents in the trucking occupation from both the female and male driver perspective, as well as perceptions from minority drivers. Finally, measures of formal grievance policies and peer relationships need to be developed and tested. Overall, more research is needed to evaluate organizational antecedents of sexual harassment in female truck drivers so that individual companies and employers in the trucking industry can understand the problem and develop policies and practices to prevent sexual harassment.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2021.170

Funding Information

This project was supported by the Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center (CARERC) through Grant 6T42OH010278. The author was a trainee in the CARERC Occupational/Environmental Health Nursing Core from 2014-2021.

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