Edited by Suzy Fox and Terri R. Lituchy
Chapter 5: Workplace Bullying and Gender: It’s Complicated
Loraleigh Keashly While the literature on the various forms of workplace mistreatment is rich and growing, it is surprising how little attention has been paid to the role of gender (Magley et al., 2010). Often gender is utilized as a control variable, implicitly acknowledging that it may in some way account for variability in the criteria of interest but rarely delving into what that connection might be. This question of whether and how gender connects to workplace bullying is the focus of this chapter. There are two perspectives on this question: (1) bullying is gender-blind or more broadly status-blind (Yamada, 2000; Pearson et al., 2005) and (2) bullying is inherently gendered (Lee, 2002; Simpson and Cohen, 2004). These perspectives reflect different conceptualizations of gender. The gender-blind argument in essence considers gender as a demographic variable, that is, an individual difference variable as in “a gender.” The gendered perspective conceives of gender as a social status that is constructed and defined in interactions with others; thus the phrase “doing gender.” Proponents of the gender-blind perspective make the case by noting the absence of gendered content of bullying behaviors, distinguishing them from sexual harassment behaviors. Indeed, some definitions of bullying make the point of explicitly excluding sexual and racial content (see Keashly and Jagatic, 2010 for a select review). This perspective gains support from research that has consistently documented that “bullying” behaviors and behaviors characterized as sexual harassment are empirically distinguishable (i.e., load on different factors; e.g., Rospenda and Richman, 2004; Lim...
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