Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Lauri Hyers Ph.D

Committee Member

Deborah Mahlstedt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ekeoma Uzogara, Ph.D., M.P.H.


This study examined the experiences of women students who faced sexual harassment working in the food service industry, while earning money to support themselves during college. In one on one qualitative interviews, a convenience sample of thirty-eight women described a range of aspects of their service industry jobs, including the nature of any negative experiences (with sexual discrimination, sexual objectification, and sexual harassment), the range of appealing aspects of their food service work (including both economic and non-economic advantages), and their knowledge of their workplace rights. Experiences with a range of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination events were nearly unanimous in this sample, with few participants taking assertive actions to confront their harassers. Through students’ own voices, insight is provided into how some aspects of service work may incentivize tolerance of sexually harassing behaviors, including appealing aspects of the work and lack of knowledge of workplace rights to safe and harassment-free working conditions. Results are discussed with regard to the responsibility of employers and university officials to ensure that the safe spaces guaranteed for students while on campus are also achieved in off campus contexts.