The Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ)is self-report inventory representing the first attempt to assess the prevalence of sexual harassment in a manner that met traditional psychometric standards(Fitzgerlad et al., 1995). As a measure of sexual harassment, the SEQ has been widely used in a variety settings such as academia, military, and workplaces. Fitzgerald and colleagues (1995) also proposed that the behavioral construct of sexual harassment is composed of three related, but conceptually distinct, dimensions: sexual coercion (SC), unwanted sexual attention (USA), and gender harassment (GH). However, the SEQ is not a finished product and it has a number of problems, and has weak psychometric properties (Gutek et al., 2004). The purposes of this study are (1) to assess overall psychometric properties, and (2) to confirm the structure of this scale with hierarchical CFA models.
422 college women [African Americans = 228 (52%), Caucasians = 182 (43%)] voluntarily participated in a cross-sectional survey. Three psychological constructs such as internalized shame, self-silencing, and self-objectification were included to test validity with the SEQ-20. Of notable importance is the rate of sexual harassment in this study. Over 50% of all the women (total n = 226) reported having been sexually harassed at least once or twice (n = 135, 33%). A significant percentage (n=91, 22.2%) reported that they had been sexual harassed on multiple occasions.
The overall reliability was excellent (alpha = .93) and the three subscales alpha ranges are good (GH = .79, USA = .88, SC = .88). The original three-factor model showed an acceptable fit indices (c2 = 1112.90, df = 167, CFI=.95, RFI =.93). The higher-order factor model has better fitted (c2 = 967.50, df = 149, CFI =.96, RFI =.95). The overall t-values of each subscales to higher factor are all significant (GH = 9.75, USA = 13.88, SC = 9.95). Among three dimensions, sexual coercion construct is strongly related to internalized shame (r = .244) and correlated with self-silencing scale (r=.113).
Conclusions and Implications:
At the level of theory, this study provided a comprehensive description of the nature of sexual harassment as a behavioral construct. Based on previous theory and research, this study confirmed that sexual harassment is a multidimensional construct consisting of three distinct but related dimensions. As it is possible to argue that the university provides a unique work environment, the present results thus might weaken the generalizability. However, the SEQ provides a psychometrically sound measurement strategy that can be used instead of the checklist methodology typically employed in most prevalence studies. The researcher should begin to conceptualize sexual harassment as a construct, with multivariate responses that are related.
Gutek, B.A., Murphy, R.O., & Douma, B. (2004). A review and critique of the sexual experiences questionnaire (SEQ). Law and Human Behavior, 28, 457-482
Fitzgerald, L.F., Gelfand, M.J., & Drasgow, F. (1995). Measuring sexual harassment: Theoretical and psychometric advances. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 17, 425-445