Shannon Rawski first got the idea for her dissertation after listening to her former colleagues — business school professors who study human resources and recognize sexual harassment as a problem — complain about having to attend, well, sexual harassment training.
“My university announced they needed to have it because they hadn’t in three years, and the buzz in the hallway was ‘Why do I have to go to this? This is a waste of my time,’ ” says Rawski, now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. “Yet these are the very faculty who are promoting that people should go to this kind of training.”
That response got Rawski thinking about why such programs are often met with disdain — even by those who help develop them — and wondering whether they work. She set out to study it. What she found surprised her: Only a handful of scientific studies have tested the effectiveness of sexual harassment training, which is nearly ubiquitous in American workplaces and intended to help protect workers as well as minimize an employer’s own legal and financial risks.