Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-5-2023


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Educational Studies (General Education)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Amy Olson

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyongo

Committee Member

Liliana Castrellon


gender microaggressions, sexual assault, sexual harassment, campus climate, institutional betrayal, barriers to reporting


The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine college cis-women’s experiences with gender microaggressions and perceptions of campus climate, institutional betrayal, and institutional courage, how those experiences and perceptions are related, and how each predicts college students’ likelihood of reporting sexual assault to the University. College cis-women (n = 483; 84.3% White) at a private predominantly-White Catholic university in the northeastern United States completed a 153-item survey, the data from which was analyzed using descriptive statistics, t tests, Pearson correlations, and linear regressions.

Gender microaggressions were found to be prevalent at the University, with perpetration by peers more common than perpetration by University employees. Undergraduate college women reported significantly higher rates of gender microaggressions by both peers and University employees and higher levels of institutional betrayal than graduate college women. Undergraduate and graduate women had similar perceptions of campus climate and levels of institutional courage.

Gender microaggressions by both peers and University employees had a significant positive relationship with institutional betrayal, and peer and employee gender microaggressions both also had a significant negative relationship with campus climate. A significant weak positive relationship was found between institutional courage and gender microaggressions by peers only; no significant relationship was identified between institutional courage and gender microaggressions by University employees.

Through a series of regression analyses, five elements of campus climate—school connectedness, perceptions of campus police, sexual harassment/sexual assault prevention and response, school sexual assault policy and resources, and treatment of sexual assault victims—were found to explain 41% of the variance in college women’s likelihood of reporting sexual assault to the University.

The primary overarching recommendation from this study is that universities conduct an annual campus climate survey with their entire student population that includes questions about sexual victimization across the entire continuum (gender microaggressions, sexual harassment, and sexual assault) and institutional betrayal to better understand and strategically address the specific needs of their students and campus community. In addition, recommendations for future action, directions for further research, and limitations of the study are shared.