On July 21, 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became Sri Lanka’s prime minister, a role never before held by a woman in any country. However, discrimination and sexual harassment against women in the workplace still afflict the country today. But do cultural gendered behavioral norms influence the perception of sexual harassment in Sri Lanka? Author Arosha S. Adikaram explored this concept in his article entitled “‘Good Women’ and ‘Bad Women': How Socialization of Gendered Behavioral Norms Influences Sri Lankan Working Women’s Interpretation of Sexual Harassment at Workplaces” from South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management.
Cultural influence on perception and judgement of sexual harassment is widely discussed in sexual harassment research. Yet, very few studies have delved deeper into the various norms and values of a culture, to understand how perception and interpretation of sexual harassment at the workplace is influenced by culture. This article attempts to fill this gap, by exploring how gendered behavioural norms instilled by Sri Lankan culture, shape perceptions about every day socio-sexual behaviours that occur in workplaces, influencing the interpretation and perception about workplace sexual harassment. Employing qualitative research methodology, in-depth interviews were used to gather information. The findings of the study unearthed how Sri Lankan women have developed notions of “good women” and “bad women”, rooted on various gendered behavioural norms internalized in them through rigorous primary and secondary socialization processes. Constant advices on proper behaviours, sanctions on dress codes and advices on the nature and type of relationships that women should maintain with the opposite gender, appear to influence women’s notions of this “good women” and “bad women” images, which in turn influence their perceptions about what is acceptable and unacceptable socio-sexual behaviours at workplace, and consequently, how they perceive, interpret and respond to instances of sexual harassment at workplace.
“‘Good Women’ and ‘Bad Women': How Socialization of Gendered Behavioral Norms Influences Sri Lankan Working Women’s Interpretation of Sexual Harassment at Workplaces” from South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management can be read for free by clicking here. Want to read all the latest from South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!