Gender Myths v. Working Realities
Using Social Science to Reformulate Sexual Harassment Law
Published by: NYU Press
262 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9780814799178
- Published: January 2005
Both the courts and the public seem confused about sexual harassment—what it is, how it functions, and what sorts of behaviors are actionable in court. Theresa M. Beiner contrasts perspectives from social scientists on the realities of workplace sexual harassment with the current legal standard. When it comes to sexual harassment law, all too often courts (and employers) are left in the difficult position of grappling with vague legal standards and little guidance about what sexual harassment is and what can be done to stop it. Often, courts impose their own stereotyped view of how women and men “ought” to behave in the workplace. This viewpoint, social science reveals, is frequently out of sync with reality.
As a legal scholar who takes social science seriously, Beiner provides valuable insight into what behaviors people perceive as sexually harassing, why such behavior can be characterized as discrimination because of sex, and what types of workplaces are more conducive to sexually harassing behavior than others. Throughout, Beiner offers proposals for legal reform with the goal of furthering workplace equality for both men and women.
“Beiner's book is a striking example of the thoughtful and clever use of social science research findings to point to changes that will improve the operation of an important US social institution.”-Labour/Le Travail
“Gender Myths v. Working Realities is an innovative and fresh approach to a complex problem. The concept for the book is both fascinating and intriguing.”-The Law and Politics Book Review
“Fortunately, Beiner is not only a law professor: she also has practiced law and is clearly well acquainted with the difficulties of getting these cases before a jury. Her book seeks to help plaintiffs survive summary judgment so they can prove their cases in court.”
“A readable synthesis of legal rules and real life, accessible to both lawyers and non-lawyers--for all those interested in reducing sexual harassment on the job. Beiner makes a crucial contribution to the discussion of sexual harassment by demonstrating the relevance of social science research to legal doctrine. She convincingly exposes the limited effectiveness of current case law in preventing sexual harassment and demonstrates that federal judges often make decisions based on myths and stereotypes about how people behave, not on the reality women face in the workplace.”
-Martha S. West,University of California Davis, co-author of Sex-Based Discrimination
“Concentrating on contentious issues such as severity and pervasiveness, reasonableness standards, unwelcomeness, causation, employer liability, and remedies, Beiner highlights the mismatches between the law and empirical research and suggests both legal reforms and research questions to close the gap. Written in clear, compelling prose, the study will enlighten readers curious about contemporary questions in sexual harassment law as well as specialists interested in the intersection of law and social science.”
“In this timely and important book, Beiner explores the growing disconnect between judges’ unfounded assumptions about how people respond to sexualized conduct in the workplace and what empirical research in the social sciences is telling us about the same subject. In many arenas, the antidiscrimination doctrine emerging from the federal courts is being built on a foundation of ‘junk social science.’ Beiner shines a light on this problem as it has manifested in the evolving law of sexual harassment.”
-Linda Hamilton Krieger,Professor of Law, University of California at Berkeley, School of Law