The authors contend that the research on sex at work reveals an interesting paradox. At work, women are perceived as using sex to their advantage, yet in practice, they are hurt by sex at work. On the other hand, men who are perceived as concerned with business display more sexual behavior than women at work and may benefit from it. This paradox contains three components: actual behavior, the impacts of sex at work, and beliefs and stereotypes concerning women and men.
This paper examines the research relevant to this paradox. It begins by tracing the development of research on sexual behavior in the workplace, from its early emphasis on defining and documenting sexual harassment through other findings concerning sexual nonharassment. In order to understand sex at work, several frameworks or theories are discussed, with special emphasis on the concept of sex-role spillover. The sex-roll spillover perspective is then used to tie together the three components of the paradox: behavior, impacts, and beliefs.