Women’s appeals for equity at American universities

Document Type


Publication Date



Statistics indicate that sex discrimination is still very evident at American universities. To explore whether inadequate university responses when individuals complain of inequities may be a factor, a qualitative study was conducted using individual interviews with 14 students and faculty who experienced sex discrimination. Results indicated the women first made attempts to address their situations informally and were hopeful that changes would result. Although changes sometimes occurred, responses to these informal appeals were generally characterized by non-response, denial of responsibility, or retaliation. Fewer of the women reported hopes for the formal processes they used following the informal ones and many had difficulty accessing these processes. For the most part, the universities responded to the formal complaints in the same way as they had responded to the informal ones, stimulating the women to seek justice outside the university.

Publisher's Statement

© 2005 The Tavistock Institute. Publisher’s version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0018726705057173

Publication Title

Human Relations