University of Maine News
When it comes to recognizing instances of sexual harassment in the workplace, age is a fundamental factor in shaping individuals’ perceptions of interactions, according to a University of Maine sociologist.
Amy Blackstone, an associate professor of sociology and chairwoman of UMaine’s Sociology Department, found age is important because how perceptions shift over time links to several age-related processes such as maturity and historical context.
“When it comes to how we understand harassment and how we respond to it, age, maturity and experience matter,” Blackstone says. “Our study suggests that employers should consider tailoring harassment training and interventions to the specific needs and experiences of workers at different life course stages.”
Blackstone worked with Jason Houle, a UMaine alumnus who is now an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, and Christopher Uggen, a Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, to examine how perceptions of sexual harassment at work are linked to an individual’s age, experience and historical backdrop.
The findings were documented in the article, “‘I didn’t recognize it as a bad experience until I was much older’: Age, experience, and workers’ perceptions of sexual harassment,” which was published in June in the Mid-South Sociological Association’s journal “Sociological Spectrum.”
As many as 70 percent of women and 1 in 7 men experience sexual harassment at work, according to previous findings cited in the article. To study changes in perceptions of related experiences, the researchers analyzed data from 33 women and men who were surveyed over the course of 14 years and interviewed in 2002 about their workplace experiences from adolescence into their late 20s.
Three themes emerged among participants: As adolescents, respondents perceived some of the sexualized interactions they experienced at work as fun; while participants did not define some of their early experiences as sexual harassment at the time, they do now; and participants suggested prior work experiences changed their ideas about workplace interactions and themselves as workers.
The researchers used data from interviews with 33 participants in the Youth Development Study (YDS), a longitudinal survey of 1,010 adolescents in Minnesota that began in 1988, when respondents were 14–15 years old and in ninth grade, the article states. In the 2000 administration of the survey, when respondents were 26–27 years old, they were asked if they experienced sexual harassment in jobs held during and since high school. In 2002, when respondents were 28–29 years old, the researchers interviewed 14 men and 19 women of varying races.
Looking back at jobs held during adolescence, the majority of interviewees recast some of their early workplace experiences as sexual harassment, but said flirting and other sexually charged behaviors were considered normal interactions because they were at a point in life when sociability was believed to be an important aspect of the work experience. The participants also viewed some interactions as acceptable for adolescents but inappropriate for adults, the researchers found.
While some respondents attributed their shift in perceptions to role or status changes — growing older, marriage or parenthood — others cited the importance of historical context and landmark sexual harassment cases that altered workplace policies and garnered national attention, according to the article.
Public consciousness about sexual harassment may have heightened during the time participants were in high school, the researchers suggest, as a result of high-profile events such as the 1991 televised hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 that included amendments to Title VII that allowed for compensatory damages in cases of sex discrimination.
Interviewees reported that at least some of the sexualized interactions they experienced at work were not perceived as problematic because the interactions occurred among peers. Several participants said they enjoyed some of the workplace flirting and joking.
One participant said she and her co-workers at an an ice cream shop talked about sex because most of the workers were ‘‘at the age where people are starting to become sexually active so that’s a big deal.’’
Upon reflection, some respondents said they have redefined some experiences during adolescence as sexual harassment, and some participants — both men and women — felt they may have offended co-workers in the past, according to the researchers.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest sexual harassment training and policies would be most effective if they were better tailored to workers at particular life stages, and further research should be considered.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The University of Maine was named one of the 2014 Top Campuses Worth Traveling For by FlipKey.com, the vacation rental company of travel site TripAdvisor.
The company used industry research and traveler feedback to compile the list of the country’s 50 must-see colleges and universities known for attractions, architecture, history and beautiful campuses.
UMaine was included on the list, specifically for the campus plan that was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed the grounds of New York City’s Central Park and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Other universities that made the list include Notre Dame, John Hopkins University, MIT, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Duke University and Cornell University.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on Maine AgrAbility, a USDA grant-funded state program that helps farmers with chronic health conditions and disabilities gain more control of their lives, continue to farm successfully and live independently. The program is a nonprofit collaboration of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One. The report focused on a farmer in Winterport who was helped by the program. Richard Brzozowski, project director of Maine AgrAbility and a small ruminant and poultry specialist with UMaine Extension, told WABI “You don’t look at the disability part. You think of what they can do; the ability part.”
Steve Coghlan, an associate professor of freshwater fisheries ecology at the University of Maine and an Argyle Township resident, wrote the opinion piece, “Plan for a landfill in Argyle Township is the result of ‘tyranny of the majority’” for the Bangor Daily News.
Bill Davids, chair of the University of Maine Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the John C. Bridge Professor, was a Tuesday morning guest of host Don Cookson on The Pulse Morning Show on AM 620. Davids talked about how UMaine engineers and students are helping NASA test Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) technology. HIAD — a spacecraft nose-mounted “giant cone of inner tubes” stacked like a ring toy — slows a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. The technology may make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars — 34,092,627 miles from Earth — and beyond. Davids said the minimum three-year project is a wonderful opportunity for the university, as well as the two full-time doctoral candidates and six undergraduate students taking part in the testing.
The Portland Press Herald reported the number of out-of-state students enrolled in the University of Maine System is on the rise. As of Aug. 10 commitments from out-of-state students — who pay nearly three times the in-state tuition — were up 12 percent over the same time last year, according to the report. The University of Maine attracted about 16 percent more out-of-state students this year, with 941 expected to start this fall, the article states. The Associated Press and WLBZ (Channel 2) cited the Press Herald article. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, SFGate and WABI (Channel 5) carried the AP report.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Reuters article about Sen. Angus King officially endorsing independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. The article referenced the 2010 Maine governor’s race when Cutler posted a late-season surge following a similar endorsement from King. According to the article, many observers say Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic candidate Mike Michaud may be less susceptible to pressure from a third-party candidate this year. “People have been informed by the 2010 race and are very wary of splitting the non-LePage vote,” Brewer said. Yahoo News and Business Insider carried the Reuters report.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about changes in U.S. Department of Agriculture standards that require organic beer to be brewed with organic hops and how those changes are inspiring more Maine brewers to grow hops. According to the article, UMaine Extension is testing several organic hop varieties to see which thrive and can make tasty brews in Maine.
A documentary about climate change that features a University of Maine explorer has won an Emmy Award.
Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, appeared in the ninth and final episode of Years of Living Dangerously, which aired weekly from April to June on Showtime.
Developed by David Gelber and Joel Bach of 60 Minutes, Years of Living Dangerously won Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards held Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles; it is scheduled to be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, on FXM.
“Years of Living Dangerously offers a critical view of climate change and its impacts that drive right to the heart of the issue: ‘How does climate change impact one’s life today,’” says Mayewski. “We clearly need many more such views of critical issues.”
Actors Matt Damon, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as journalists Lesley Stahl and Thomas Friedman and scientist M. Sanjayan, were among the documentary’s correspondents. They traveled the planet to examine stories about impacts of climate change. In addition to detailing devastation in New Jersey wreaked by Superstorm Sandy, they explored drought and lost jobs in Plainview, Texas, worsening wildfires in the U.S. and civil unrest heightened by water shortage in the Middle East. Sanjayan and a film crew joined Mayewski and his team of CCI graduate students in 2013 for the nearly 20,000-foot ascent of a glacier on Tupungato, an active Andean volcano in Chile.
Mayewski’s team was in Chile to collect ice cores from the melting glacier that serves as the drinking water supply for Santiago’s 4 million residents. Temperature there is rising, greenhouse gases are increasing and winds from the west that have traditionally brought moisture to the glacier have shifted, Mayewski says. By understanding trends, he says it’s possible to better predict where climate events will occur so plans can be made.
For decades, Mayewski has made discoveries in Earth’s remote regions. “When you go all over the world, you get a global view,” he says. “By nature, I’m an optimist. That is tempered with this problem. I do believe there will be a groundswell of people, or governments, or some combination so that there will be a better future in store.”
The impact that hemlock tree die-offs have had — and continue to have — on freshwater forest ecosystems is the focus of a research project at the University of Maine.
Hamish Greig, a UMaine assistant professor of stream ecology, and Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of terrestrial paleoecology at the Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the School of Biology and Ecology, are leading a research team that is studying past and present declines of the conifers known for their dense shade. The resulting biomass the dying trees introduce into the watershed, as well as the other tree species that take their place on the forest floor, affect freshwater systems, including streams and lakes.
Understanding those implications is particularly important in Maine, where hemlocks are now being threatened by the same exotic pest that, in recent years, has decimated the tree species in the southeastern United States.
“People in Maine have a huge affinity to their rivers and lakes. It’s huge economically; it’s huge socially, and through recreational activities,” says Greig, who is joined on the research team by research assistant professor Krista Caps, postdoctoral scientist Robert Northington, as well as several graduate, undergraduate and high school students.
About 5,500 years ago, the hemlocks of eastern North America sustained a massive die-off that lasted about 1,000 years, brought on by severe drought and the hemlock looper, a native pest, Gill says. Today, the tree species has been nearly decimated in the southeastern United States by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic insect from Asia.
Maine’s cold winters typically protect against exotic pests. However, warmer temperatures have allowed exotic pests to thrive and move north. Since 2004, the hemlock woolly adelgid has been in southwestern Maine. This year, it has made it as far north as Owls Head, according to the researchers.
“As the climate warms, there won’t be anything preventing the woolly adelgid from hitting our hemlocks in Maine as hard as they’ve been hit elsewhere,” Gill says.
As part of their study, the research team has set up 36 livestock water tanks as experimental freshwater mesocosms, or isolated experimental environments. Hemlock needles, along with rhododendron and maple leaves, have been added to the ecosystems to observe what happens when a hemlock dies.
The mesocosms allow the scientists to study these isolated environments as they develop over time — in this case, into the fall.
“You can’t really control something in a natural lake,” Greig says. “And if you do experiments in the lab, you’re really simplifying things down to two or three species of invertebrates. By having this happy medium, we can have natural complexity with the controlled replication of a true experiment.”
Next, Gill and Northington will study radiocarbon-dated records from the bottom of lakes and bogs in southeastern, coastal and central Maine regions to help understand how aquatic systems were affected by hemlock die-off in the past. By linking the paleo record with a modern experiment, the team hopes to will new light on hemlock’s role in changing ecosystems.
Sarah Nelson, an assistant research professor with the Senator George J. Mitchell Center and cooperating assistant research professor in Watershed Biogeochemistry in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, was interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article about her research with Steve Kahl, a sustainability professor at Unity College, on acid rain. After a decades-long study, the researchers found the negative effects of acid rain have been reversed much faster than expected. Nelson said the study shows the value of long-term monitoring. “Because these lakes have been sampled for so long, they’re really sentinels of what’s been going on in the Northeast,” she said. “It’s really an amazing resource.”
An art-making and fundraising project that was facilitated by University of Maine students in an advanced art education course was mentioned in a Weekly article about music becoming an important part of the lives of Shaw House residents. The first three instruments at Bangor’s Shaw House, an organization that works with youth who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless, were purchased with money raised through the sale of ceramic and found-object pins created by house residents under the instruction of Constant Albertson, an associate professor of art education, and students in her class.
WLBZ (Channel 2) spoke with Robert Rice, a professor of wood science and technology at the University of Maine, for a report on mill officials remaining optimistic about Old Town Fuel and Fiber’s future despite the recent shutdown of the mill. Rice said if mill owners choose to sell, they should consider options, including whether the new owner will continue researching biofuels. He added one of the major challenges the mill faced was that it produced only market pulp, an operational structure that is becoming less viable in the United States.
The Bangor Daily News reported engineers with University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center are working with NASA to perfect the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD). The HIAD is a spacecraft nose-mounted “giant cone of inner tubes” stacked like a ring toy that slows a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. The HIAD could make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars and beyond. “There aren’t that many people in the U.S., or around the world, working on these sorts of things,” said Bill Davids, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department and the John C. Bridge Professor at UMaine who is working on the project. “It really helps support education as well,” he added.
University of Maine political science professors Amy Fried and Mark Brewer were quoted in a Sun Journal political analysis on social media use in Maine campaigns. Fried spoke about anonymous commenters who use hate speech online, saying “Not giving their names gives them a perch from which to lob uncivil comments, to present themselves as multiple individuals, and to avoid accountability for themselves and the parties and candidates for whom they may speak.” Brewer said campaigns should consider adopting stringent social media policies, including some pre-screening rules for people affiliated with a campaign. The Bangor Daily News carried the Sun Journal report.
The Portland Press Herald, WLBZ (Channel 2) and WABI (Channel 5) reported former players, coaches and community members joined family and friends to remember longtime college baseball coach John Winkin who passed away July 19. Attendees of the memorial at Colby College in Waterville shared stories for two and a half hours, the Press Herald reported. For more than 50 years, Winkin coached college baseball in Maine, first at Colby, then at the University of Maine, and at Husson University. Winkin led the Black Bears for 22 seasons, compiled a 642–430–3 record with the team, and helped the squad reach the College World Series six times, according to previously published reports.
The annual Bear Necessities and Athletic Equipment Room Tent Sale will be Wednesday, Aug. 27 through Saturday, Aug. 30 in the Alfond Arena parking lot and in the University of Maine Athletics Department store. The sale will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. Deals on Black Bear merchandise will be featured. Prices start at $5.95 for T-shirts, $10 shorts, $19.95 sweatshirts and $20 jackets.
The Bangor Daily News reported on an Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship grant that was awarded to the University of Maine School of Nursing to defray educational costs of family nurse practitioner (FNP) students who will provide primary health care for rural Mainers in medically underserved areas. The nearly $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will aid eligible, full-time FNP students in the School of Nursing master’s degree program in 2014 and 2015. “The goal of the funding is they want more care providers in underserved areas as soon as possible,” said Nancy Fishwick, director of UMaine’s School of Nursing.
The Bangor Daily News published an article about the Collins Center for the Art’s 2014–15 season. Danny Williams, executive director of the CCA, told the BDN his goal is to offer the most varied season possible through world-class dance, theater, classical music and a new partnership with Waterfront Concerts. “We want to offer something for everybody, which includes our roots, of course, along with new audiences. Diversity is the key,” Williams said.
WLBZ (Channel 2) and the Bangor Daily News reported UFC fighters and former college football players, Shawn Jordan and Ovince St. Preux, attended a University of Maine football team practice. The men stopped by to offer advice and talk about their college football careers and experiences.