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Lana Stermac on Impacts of Sexual Violence on Women’s Education

April 6, 2019

By Lisa Smith

Professor Lana Stermac

How does sexual violence impact students’ academic experience?

As part of a special AERA Presidential Cross-Cutting session, Professor Lana Stermac spoke on the impact of sexual violence on students’ academic progress and university experience.

“While the negative personal and social impacts associated with campus sexual violence are well-recognized, less attention has been devoted to understanding the effect on women’s education” Professor Stermac says.  

To address this gap, Professor Stermac and OISE students Jenna Cripps, Touraj Amiri and Veronica Badali conducted interviews and surveys of over 700 undergraduate women in Ontario, Canada. Their research reveals signs of disengagement on many fronts, from late submission of assignments to delayed completion of courses of study. Students who experience sexual violence are more likely to be absent, less likely to see improvement in their grades over time, and more likely to require extra time for degree completion than their peers.

These findings are a call to action as universities strive to provide better supports for students. “Disengagement with schooling has serious implications for retention and women’s education overall that must be addressed by institutions and policy-makers,” Professor Stermac concludes.


Professor Stermac is a clinical psychologist and Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development.

Paper title: Sexual Violence and Women’s Education: Impacts on Academic Performance

Authors: Lana Stermac, Jenna Cripps, Touraj Amiri, and Veronica Badali

In AERA Presidential Cross-Cutting Session: Trauma and Violence in Students' Lives: The Role of Education in Healing and Hurting

Fri, April 5, 2:25 to 3:55pm, Metro Toronto Convention Centre