A third of working women have experienced discrimination and harassment in the workplace, according to new research.
Female workers frequently have their opinions dismissed, receive unwelcome comments on their appearance or clothing, and are referred to in demeaning terms such as “clever girl”.
The poll of 2,000 working women revealed many have had their work and achievements ‘hijacked’ by male colleagues or have experienced unwanted touching, brushing or stroking from other members of their team.
One woman lost her job after refusing a marriage proposal from her line manager while a male employee was taken on to do exactly the same job as her - and later discovered he was being paid £1,000 more.
And a female shop worker ended up getting unwanted texts from a security guard who went into the manager’s office and took her mobile phone number from personnel records.
Georgina Calvert-Lee, Senior Litigation Counsel at law firm McAllister Olivarius, which commissioned the research to better understand what women are facing in the workplace, said: “It’s sad to hear that these kinds of things continue and are so widespread. It confirms what our clients tell us about their own experiences.
“We’re sure many women will feel as though they are the only ones having to deal with situations like this.
“But we’re certain there will be women out there who don’t actually realise they’re experiencing sexual discrimination or harassment.
“Sometimes it can feel a bit daunting speaking up; especially if you’re afraid of losing your job for standing your ground.
“But the only way these situations are going to be solved is by making others aware of it and not suffering in silence.”
Of the 42 per cent of women who have taken maternity leave, one in 10 said they felt discriminated against when they returned to work.
One mum explained that once she had returned to work after maternity leave her job had ‘disappeared’, and she was given menial tasks which weren’t enough to fill the day.
Another respondent said her manager had told her there was no point in promoting young female staff as “they all leave on maternity anyway”.
One in six women in management said they had been called ‘bossy’ when instructing another member of staff.
Four in 10 women have experienced colleagues trying to sexualise workplace conversations.
In fact one in five have felt sexually discriminated against in their current workplace at least once.
Twenty four per cent of women in work have never sought help for the bad experiences they’ve had in at work - but have considered it.
And because of this, many women believe it would make sense to make sure sexual discrimination should be discussed in the workplace so it’s recognised a little easier.
Georgina added: “Women who have experienced sexual discrimination and harassment don’t need to suffer in silence.
“It’s illegal, and you can get help. Good companies want to fix it. Other companies can be persuaded by legal action”.
McAllister Olivarius is an international law firm representing people who face discrimination in their professional lives.
TOP 10 MOST FREQUENT DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT INCIDENTS IN THE WORKPLACE FOR WOMEN
1. Spoken over of had their opinion dismissed in meetings
2. Received unwelcome comments on appearance or clothes
3. Called “woman”, “clever girl” or other dismissive terms
4. Asked to make tea or run errands more than male colleagues
5. Felt unable to complain about being treated unprofessionally for fear of being accused of being oversensitive
6. Referred to as ‘bossy’ due to instructing another member of staff
7. Judged on or had comments on about their sexual attractiveness
8. Having credit for their work taken by male colleagues
9. Been assumed to be the assistant / PA or lower ranking member of staff
10. Experienced unwanted touching, brushing or stroking from other colleagues