How many women are sexually harassed in the workplace?

Date: Mar 29, 2018

Sexual harassment in the workplace can have a number of serious consequences for the victim, other employees and the organisations that employ them.

Unwelcome sexual advances cause stress for those who are targeted, as well as create hostile and intimidating working environments for all staff. Some people may feel uncomfortable reporting their experiences over fears it will affect their career development.

But how pervasive is sexual harassment for women in the workplace? We examined recent research to bring you the latest statistics and findings.

Sexual harassment in Australian workplaces

Approximately one in ten women in Australia said they had been sexually harassed while at work, according to a new University of Sydney study.

Published earlier this month, the research found that females who were currently studying or had disabilities were more likely to report sexual harassment. Asian women also claimed they faced unwanted advances more frequently, with 18 per cent saying they'd been harassed.

Despite this, the findings suggest that sexual harassment may be declining in the workplace. Figures from an Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) national phone survey in 2012 showed that 25 per cent of women (and 16 per cent of men) said they had suffered such experiences.

Meanwhile, a 2016 Trades Union Congress survey in the UK revealed 52 per cent of British women had suffered workplace sexual harassment. Of these, one-quarter claimed they were the victims of unwanted touching.

Why are the results so different?

Are Australian organisations better than British ones at preventing workplace sexual harassment? Why has the sexual harassment rate more than halved in Australia over the last six years?

These are difficult questions to answer. One issue is that many people may not fully understand what sexual harassment entails.

According to the AHRC, one-fifth of women who said they had never been harassed in the workplace later confirmed they had been once the commission provided examples of sexual harassment.

Unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that can be deemed harassment includes:

  • Sexual jokes or suggestive comments;
  • Non-consensual touching;
  • Staring or leering;
  • Explicit texts or emails;
  • Repeated requests for dates;
  • Intrusive questions about an individual's private life; and/or
  • Posters, screensavers and other images of a sexually explicit nature.

Have you suffered workplace sexual harassment? You could be entitled to compensation if an organisation has failed to create a safe environment for employees.

Please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to discuss your case.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.