Recognition of the overt and covert existence of sexuality in orga- izations aids understanding of how deep the seeds of harassment are planted in the soil. Certain organizational characteristics help to propagate these seeds. Drawing from Tangri, Burt, and Johnson (1982), the organizational model stipulates that authority relations that exist within a given organizational hierarchy create opportunities for sexually harassing behaviors. Characteristics such as visibility and contact in sex-integrated jobs, gender composition of the workplace, traditionalism of the job, occupational norms, job requirements, and availability of grievance procedures are several aspects of an organization that play a role in the increased likelihood of sexual harassment (Martin, 1995; Saal, Johnson, & Weber, 1989).
Visibility and contact in sex-integrated jobs affect the opportunities for sexual harassment to occur because sex-integrated jobs require both sexes to work together in either pairs or small groups. Gender composition and traditionalism are related because as the number of token women rises in a male-dominated environment, such as the automobile assembly line, so does the level of hostility toward them (Gardner et al., 1994). Occupational norms include the embedded sexual norms of the organization as discussed above. Evidence of norms can be seen by “revealing waitress costumes and by use of expressions such as ‘casting couch’ and ‘sexcretary’” (Tangri et al., 1982). Job requirements deal with the expectations of a job whether explicitly or implicitly stated. Some occupations require overnight traveling with coworkers or late-night work sessions with colleagues. Availability of grievance procedures can affect the occurrence of sexual harassment. Explicit policies and disciplinary procedures ideally should deter potential harassers. These factors and their roles in the organizational context can best be further examined by relating these factors to three specific organizational contexts: academe, military, and consumer-oriented businesses.
Of the three organizational settings reviewed here, academia, the military, and business, all can be characterized along two dimensions that may shape the relative prevalence of sexual harassment within them. First, the extent to which organizational roles and structures emphasize hierarchy plays a critical role in shaping forms of sexual harassment. The nature of authority as it is expressed in the particular organizational context and relative power of the actors is particularly important. Second, the extent to which organizational roles and structures explicitly and implicitly reflect traditional images of men and masculinity based on ascendancy, competition, and opposition can shape not only the likelihood of sexual harassment, but also the availability of recourse once it has occurred.