Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Sexism and Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Sexism and Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions

Article excerpt

Sexual harassment is a recurring decimal in tertiary institutions. The paper therefore investigates the effects of sexual harassment on the academic performance of female students, using Delta State University, Abraka, as case study. The participants were randomly selected 2001evel - 5001evel students from various faculties of the University. The instrument for data collection was a twenty (20) item questionnaire. Though 340questionnaires were distributed through class representatives but 320 were eventually retrieved. The study been a descriptive survey design adopted the use of mean and standard deviation to analyze data. The data however revealed a summated mean of means (3.585) lower than the mean of fourteen (14) items of the questionnaire. That is, each of the fourteen (14) items had means higher than the summated mean of means (see table 1). On this premise the only null hypothesis of the study was rejected. This indicated that sexual harassment has significant effect on the academic performance of female students. It was also noted that students enjoy being sexually harassed due to the benefits. Consequent upon the findings, it was recommended that students should be made to realize that education is not a slogan but a key to sustainable development. Therefore, management of higher institutions should introduce dress code that would abolish seductive and provocative dressing.

Sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon in tertiaiy institutions. However, it continues to attract the attention of researchers and the media. Though, it is ever expected to find human beings of the opposite sex attracting the attention of each other in the course of interaction. The issues of love, infatuation, sex, rape or marriage begin with a spark of sexual harassment. But, to be sexually harassed can devastate one's psychological well being. This is a problem that has always confronted human society with little or no solution. The problem is prevalent in our educational institutions, in the work place and in other aspects of the society at large (Adetunji, 2008).

The issue of, "who harasses who" between male lecturers and female students is yet undefined. But, in most cases the harasser is usually older, wealthier, in a superior position than the harassed and has something most valuable that will benefit the harassed (Schuffer 2000). The fact also remains that in most tertiaiy institutions, it is a common sight to find unserious students who seldom attend lectures, attempt class assignment, write class test and even deliberately absent from examinations. To avoid probation and withdrawal from the programme due to poor academic performance, they begin to scout around for shortcuts that will boost their cumulative grade points. The reality of it all makes them vulnerable to sexual harassment and its aftermath.

Lecturers on the other hand, who are employed to improve the waning educational system and contribute their bit to activities that will enhance the standard of education, do not help matters. Some of them have lost the passion of their primaiy assignment which is to impact students with knowledge. Rather, they help to make the University campuses a breeding ground for moral decadence and other vices. They capitalize on the waning educational system, the academic laxity of the female students who are desperate to move forward. The continuous indulgence of such lecturers is also due to the weak administrative system that has no policy to expose and impose punishment on perpetrators who adopt students as their "fringe benefits" in the work place. The irony of it all is that, brilliant female students are also frustrated by this crop of male lecturers when their sexual request is turned down. No wonder Morley (2003) assert that, sexual harassment in tertiaiy institutions is an abuse of power because; irrespective of the academic status of students they are always at the mercy of lecturers.

The question that goes forth then, is what kind of economist, administrator, teachers, doctors, engineers or even politicians would such students be when they graduate? …

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