GVSU Professor Has Unique Approach to Sexual Harassment Education
Grand Valley State University professor Michael DeWilde says the best way to educate men about sexual harassment is to sexually harass them.
Each semester at least half of the women taking a business ethics course with DeWilde share stories about receiving inappropriate remarks or unwanted advances while at work.
Reactions to the stories from the men in class vary from looks of embarrassment or disbelief to those who say they didn't realize the issue of sexual harassment was that bad.
DeWilde uses role play as a teaching tool when discussing sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace. He plays the part of the "bad-guy harasser."
DeWilde noticed the technique was more effective when targeting a man instead of a woman so he started choosing men for the exercise and their reactions were immediate.
"Some get really nervous and become quite agitated and I have to back off," he said. "I don't think men appreciated the toll it takes on women emotionally and how long the effects can last, or what it means to feel a sense of dread to go to work because of harassment."
DeWilde was asked at a conference, "So, your solution to the sexual harassment of women is to sexually harass men?" He answered, "Well, in a controlled environment, yes."
The method has undergone further research in a lab at Texas Tech University and the early results are promising.