Over half of British women have been sexually harassed at work

woman being sexually harassed at work

More than half of British women have been sexually harassed at work, a new study has revealed.

The survey, compiled by the TUC, found that 52 per cent of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Of those women aged between 18 and 24 years old, the survey found that 63 per cent had been sexually harassed.

The study surveyed over 1,500 women and discovered that 32 per cent of women have been the subject of unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature; 28 per cent had been subject to sexual comments about their body; 23 per cent had experienced unwanted touching; 20 per cent had experienced verbal sexual advances; and 12 per cent of women have experienced sexual touching or attempts to kiss them at work.

Despite these figures, 79 per cent of those who had experienced harassment would not report the abuse. 28 per cent of people felt that reporting it would reflect negatively on their career; while 20 per cent felt they would not be believed and 24 per cent felt they would not be taken seriously.

The study is the largest of its kind for over a generation and has been cited by leading academic, Dr Jane Pilliger as one of the most extensive studies on the workplace sexual harassment.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said, “How many times do we still hear that sexual harassment in the workplace is just a bit of banter?”

“Let’s be clear – sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. Victims are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society.”

“Employers must be clear they have a zero tolerance attitude to sexual harassment and treat any complaint seriously. It’s a scandal that so few women feel their bosses are dealing with the issue properly.”

“Anyone worried about inappropriate behaviour at work should join a union to make sure they are protected and respected at work.”

As a result of the latest figures, the Women’s Equality Party have demanded urgent action to end the sexist attitudes that still dominate workplaces and schools.

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said, “The ‘Still just a bit of banter’ report shows clearly and startlingly the extent to which young women must still run a gauntlet of sexist attitudes when they start work.”

“The situation is disgraceful. More than forty years after the Sex Discrimination Act was passed to tackle sexism in the workplace, not nearly enough has changed.”

Continuing Walker said, “While we are pleased this report is drawing attention to the scourge of sexual harassment – which still holds far too many women back from fulfilling their potential at work – we are appalled by the scale of the problem it reveals.”

Still just a bit of banter? is available here.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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