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Half of Britain’s female workforce are being sexually discriminated on a daily basis, it was revealed yesterday.
A study of 3,434 women workers found one in two have experienced some form of ‘gender harassment’, including offensive sexist remarks and being the butt of chauvinist jokes. Of the 1,760 ladies who had experienced harassment in the work place, 1,222 went on to answer a number of delicate questions about the behaviour they felt they were being subjected to every day.
Incredibly, four in 10 have been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, such as a slap on the bottom or hand on the thigh, while 27 per cent have even been kissed by someone despite spurning their advances. Two thirds of women said the boss or other male colleagues had made inappropriate comments about what they are wearing, and 46 per cent reacted by dressing down for work.
But half of those polled wouldn’t know who to go to if they wanted to lodge a complaint or take legal action. Shockingly, a third of ladies have considered leaving work, and a quarter suffered mental and physical health problems because of their experiences.
Barrister Rachel Temple, who with colleague Oliver Cook launched AdviseMeBarrister.com, and who conducted the study said: “We were shocked to discover the extent of sexual harassment in UK workplaces, women are having to run the gauntlet of inappropriate workplace behavior every day of the week.
“Hundreds of thousands of women are suffering discrimination of some kind, but half of those we spoke to said they simply don’t know where to turn to for help.”
The study shows a further 43 per cent of women claim to have been sworn at by colleagues, while the same percentage have been propositioned in a manner which made them feel awkward. Six in 10 have felt distressed when male colleagues have referred to them inappropriately in front of others. And when it comes to moving up the career ladder, many women feel they are treated as second best because of their gender.
Twenty three per cent of women feel convinced a colleague has secured a promotion that was rightfully theirs, just because they were male. A quarter of women claim male colleagues in exactly the same position as them are being paid more, while 37 per cent say members of the opposite sex are often chosen over them for tasks they can easily do.
Rachel Temple continued: “We were sad to hear that 30 per cent of women we surveyed didn’t do anything about the problems they were facing because they didn’t want to be known as a troublemaker, and furthermore they were – understandably – confused about the legal process.
“Many of these issues escalate to the point of not being solvable within the workplace and that’s where the legal profession could be useful – at www.advisemebarrister.com we can advise confidentially and entirely online on whether there is a case or not to pursue. Unfortunately there often is.
“Until recently people who believe they have a legal case, employment-based or otherwise, had to go to a solicitor in the first instance, having to take time off work and potentially racking up large bills, before even knowing if they had something worth pursuing or not.
“Not any more. You can come directly to a barrister – who is often the person a solicitor would consult anyway – and ask their advice. And at www.advisemebarrister.com, for a fixed fee of £150 we’ll tell our clients whether their case is worth pursuing before they spend another penny.”
But of the people polled, only one in five women have reported a colleague, line manager or boss for sexual harassment or discrimination. Just over half said they would be worried about people believing them, while 29 per cent don’t want a black mark against their name. Twelve per cent of ladies feel they would ruin their chances of a promotion if they made a fun, and 31 per cent don’t want to be known as a trouble maker.
Women are having to run the gauntlet of inappropriate workplace behavior every day of the week.Barrister Rachel Temple, who helped set up AdviseMeBarrister.com