Out of 3,434 women workers who took part in a study conducted by legal experts at AdviseMeBarrister.com, 1,760 said they had experienced harassment at work because of their gender, including offensive sexist remarks and being the butt of chauvinist jokes.
Two-thirds of women who have experienced harassment at work said their boss or other male colleagues had made inappropriate comments about what they are wearing, while 43 per cent have been sworn at by colleagues and the same percentage propositioned in a manner which made them feel awkward.
However, harassment often goes beyond the verbal, the study found, with four in women having been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable while at work and 27 per cent having even been kissed by someone despite spurning their advances.
Barrister Rachel Temple, who co- launched AdviseMeBarrister.com and oversaw the research, said: “We were shocked to discover the extent of sexual harassment in UK workplaces, women are having to run the gauntlet of inappropriate workplace behaviour every day of the week.”
Sexual discrimination and harassment is also having a significant impact on the careers of many female workers, the survey suggested.
Twenty three per cent of women said they felt sure a colleague had secured a promotion that was rightfully theirs just because they were male, while a quarter claim male colleagues in exactly the same position as them are being paid more.
Furthermore, a third of female workers have even considered leaving work because of the harassment and discrimination they face and a quarter suffered mental and physical health problems because of their experiences.
But there appears to be a lack of processes in place to help women who have been the victim of discrimination, with half of those polled saying they wouldn’t know who to go to if they wanted to lodge a complaint or take legal action.
A similar number said they would be worried about people believing them if they did make a complaint, while 29 per cent did not want to put a black mark against their name.