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Risk Factor Self-Assessment

Risk factors associated with harassment* Does this risk factor play a role in your lab or classroom? What actions can you take to reduce this risk factor?
Homogeneous work groups: harassment is more likely to occur where there is a lack of diversity in a group.
New students or early career hires: these individuals may lack the confidence to resist or challenge conduct, or may lack the maturity to understand or care about consequences.
Cultural and language differences: group members from different backgrounds may be less aware of institutional expectations, guidelines, policies, or practices.
Top researchers or performers: group leaders, faculty, or administration may be reluctant to challenge their behavior and these individuals may believe that the general rules do not apply to them.
Significant power disparities: students, postdocs, or early career hires with less seniority may be unaware of complaint channels and may worry about reporting ramifications; more senior group members may also exploit group members with less tenure or status.
Societal stereotypes: Some group members may not conform to societal stereotypes, such as a "feminine" acting man or a woman who challenges norms by being "tough enough" to do a job in a traditionally male-dominated environment; some group members may not conform to any gender roles.
Decentralized work or learning environments: marked by limited communication between organizational levels or sites, these environments may foster a climate in which harassment may go unchecked.
Isolated work or learning environments: harassers have easy access to others in isolated spaces, and possibly no witnesses to the harassment.
Workgroups that tolerate or encourage alcohol consumption: alcohol reduces social inhibitions and impairs judgment, providing a greater opportunity for harassment.
Coarsened social discourse and events outside the work or educational environment: outside conduct may make harassment inside a work place more likely or perceived as more acceptable.
"Customer service": a group member may feel compelled to tolerate inappropriate behavior when they rely solely on one person to receive fair compensation, promotion, or recommendations.
Monotonous or low intensity work: in an unstimulating work or educational environment, harassing behaviors may be tolerated to vent frustration or avoid boredom.

*Adapted from Feldblum & Lipnic, Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2016.