THE NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Volume 9, No. 1, 2011
Female Executives’ Self-Reported Experiences of Contra-Power Sexual Harassment from Male Subordinates
Emmanuel Abiodun Fayankinnu
Department of Sociology Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria
This paper examines female executives’ experiences of ‘contra-power sexual harassment’ (CPSH) – a situation in which the abuser possesses less formal power than the abused – from male subordinates in the workplace. One hundred and fifteen respondents, consisting of 67 female executives and 48 male subordinates, were purposively selected. Two versions of a structured questionnaire, for the abused and the abuser, containing eleven sexual acts/behaviours were administered to the respondents. Additionally, four focused group discussions (FGDs) were conducted, two each with female executives and male subordinates. Data collected from the FGDs were sorted, transcribed, and reported verbatim while data from the questionnaire were analyzed, using simple frequency distributions and cross-tabulation. Female executives mostly perceived and experienced three out of the eleven sexual harassment acts – male subordinates grabbing their groins before female executives, male subordinates bragging about their sexual organs as hefty before female executives, and male subordinates bragging about their prowess in bed before female executives. Thirty-five of the male respondents reported that they grabbed their groins before female executives, 60.4% bragged of the size of their sexual organs, and 52.1% bragged of their prowess in bed. The FGDs revealed that CPSH may engender low job satisfaction, reduced commitment, and a decline in productivity; it may increase feelings of loss of control over the body, destroy gender identity, and increase the tendency to quit the job. As a way of coping with the situation, female executives ignored the acts and maintained strict formal relationships with their male subordinates. As powerful as female executives are in their positions of authority, they still remain powerless as regards CPHS.
Keywords: contra-power, sexual harassment, job satisfaction, gender identity