More than half of women say they are bullied at work
More than half of women are bullied or harassed at work – often by members of their own sex, a major poll reveals on April 1.
Based on interviews with nearly 23,000 women and more than 2,000 men, the survey is the largest of its kind in the UK.
It reveals that the biggest enemy facing women in the office or other workplace is often other women, rather than their male colleagues.
Women who had been bullied by a member of their own sex said they felt they may have been targeted because their senior colleague felt threatened by their abilities.
The authors of the study said: ‘Women often experience bullying by female colleagues and line managers.
‘[This is] a point echoed by focus group participants who thought female bullies felt threatened by potential and ability and so exploited their position or authority to undermine.’
One in four women – all between the ages of 28 and 40 – said they had been undermined by a boss overloading them with work and constantly criticising them.
The same proportion said they had suffered from ‘over-bearing supervision or other misuse of power or position’.
One in eight said they had been sexually harassed – defined as ‘unwelcome comments of a sexual nature’.
This includes unwanted physical contact or leering, asking for sexual favours, displaying offensive material such as posters, or sending offensive emails or texts of a sexual nature.
The research was commissioned by the women’s campaign group Opportunity Now and accountants PwC.
Helena Morrissey, a mother of nine and chairman of Opportunity Now, said: ‘Women have told us they are ambitious, confident and feel supported by their partners in their career aspirations.
They feel much less encouraged by their employers, however, both in respect of career development and the workplace culture, where bullying and harassment are still prevalent.’
One man who took part in the Project 28-40 research said: ‘Senior males in my office are known for going after the younger women.
‘It is a joke [but] goes on too much for that to be acceptable.’
The biggest enemy facing women in the office or other workplace is often other women, rather than their male colleagues, the study says.
One woman, who was not named, spoke of her own experience of being bullied at work. ‘Bullying will always happen – but there needs to be an effective and open way of dealing with it,’ she said.
‘In mishandling what happened to me so badly, the organisation completely destroyed my faith in it and any belief I had that such a situation would not happen again.’