Sexual Harassment Affects One-In-Three Working Women, According To 'Cosmopolitan' Study

Aric Mitchell

Sexual harassment has long been an issue for women in the workplace, but a new Cosmopolitan study has actually measured how big of an issue it is.

According to the survey of 2,235 women, one-in-three (745) admitted that they had been harassed at work "at some point in their lives."

"Sexual harassment hasn't gone away — it's just taken on new forms," write Michelle Ruiz and Lauren Ahn. As examples of what constitutes the practice, the pair highlight "a link to a porn video that pops up on Gchat" and "a comment about how hot you look as you walk by a coworker's cube."

The women, who participated in Cosmo's survey were in the 18-34 age group with "at least some women who don't realize that the behavior they're experiencing at work constitutes sexual harassment."

The magazine arrived at these findings by noting that 16 percent of women said "no" when asked if they had been sexually harassed at work, but said "yes" to experiencing sexually explicit or sexist remarks.

Over four-in-five (81 percent) had experienced verbal sexual harassment of some kind, while 44 percent said they had encountered "unwanted touching and sexual advances." Twenty-five percent admitted to receiving "lewd texts and emails."

Three-out-of-four sexual harassers were male co-workers while close to half (49 percent) were male clients or customers. Thirty-eight percent said they were harassed by male managers, and 10 percent said they were harassed by female co-workers.

"The results exceed 100 percent because some respondents have been harassed in multiple situations," Ruiz and Ahn note.

As to the question of which fields were the most susceptible to sexual harassment?

Cosmo's study shows that 42 percent of the women worked in food/service hospitality fields; 36 percent worked in retail; 31 percent worked in a STEM field; 31 percent worked in arts and entertainment; and 30 percent worked in legal.

Fields with the lowest levels of sexual harassment? Education (at 23 percent) and medical/healthcare (at 21 percent).

Cosmo speculates that part of the reason the problem is so rampant could have something to do with how little it is reported. Of the women surveyed who had experienced some form of unwanted advance, 71 percent chose not to report it while 29 percent did. Why so low? Well, only about half (15 percent) of those who reported felt the issue was handled fairly.

Last but not least, women from 19-29 were the most susceptible to sexual harassment and a higher education level didn't result in a better outcome with 45 percent of respondents having a bachelor's degree, 29 percent having some college education, and 19 percent having a graduate degree.

What do you think about these results, readers? Do you think sexual harassment is an issue in your workplace, and what experiences have you had with it? Sound off in our comments section.

[Image via ShutterStock]