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Studies in Higher Education



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.


Sexual misconduct remains at crisis levels on American college campuses and is vastly underreported. Most research focuses on individual level risks of assault and perpetration, yet campuses vary significantly in sexual offenses and reporting rates. The current study responds to calls to consider institutional factors that shape campus climates for sexual misconduct and reporting. We consider the role of gender in leadership, analyzing the impact of women's appointment as college president on reporting rates over time. We consider individual and organizational mechanisms that may shape the impact of women's appointment on reporting rates. Our analyses rely on data from U.S. colleges and universities between 2005-2020. We find that the appointment of women presidents is associated with a significant increase in reporting of sexual misconduct. We observe a significant increase in reporting during the first year following the appointment and a continued increase in reporting rates over time.



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