Individual Vulnerability and Organizational Context as Risks for Sexual Harassment among Female Graduate Students

Tara E. Sutton, Elizabeth Culatta, Kaitlin M. Boyle, Jennifer L. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Despite a growing body of work on sexual harassment among college students, little work has examined predictors of sexual harassment specifically among graduate students. This study aims to address this gap in the literature by using data from 490 female graduate students at a large, public university. Based on a feminist routine activity theory approach, both individual vulnerability (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or other sexual identity [LGBQ+], international student status, psychological distress, alcohol use) and organizational context (departmental female ratio, male-dominated field, departmental support) are tested as risk factors for sexual harassment. Moreover, we examine risks for sexual harassment by either a peer or a professor before testing models for peer and faculty member harassment separately. Logistic regression analyses demonstrated that both individual vulnerability and organizational context are related to an increased likelihood of sexual harassment among female graduate students, but patterns of findings vary by type of offender. Policy recommendations are offered, including the need for safe spaces on campus for LGBQ+ and international students and the need for clear consequences for offenders of sexual harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-248
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Currents
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • and deviance
  • crime
  • law
  • sex and gender
  • sexualities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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