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Sexual Harassment in PhD Supervision

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This article analyses the previously unresearched dynamics of sexual harassment in cross-gender, one-to-one PhD supervision in a UK social science faculty education department. I discuss two women research students' reflections on their supervisory relationships with a sexually harassing male supervisor, including the processes of obtaining a supervisor and the establishment or curtailment of the relationship. When students decide whether or not to be supervised by a particular individual there is a tension between personal compatibility and relevant research expertise. Once the relationship is established there is a further tension because the boundaries between discussions about academic work and personal life are so easily blurred. In particular, it is suggested that the sexually harassing male supervisor cannot simply be viewed as an aberration, for his exploits reveal a strategic exploitation of conditions which are actually integral and arguably necessary to this distinctive academic relationship.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1998

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