Unwanted sexual attention at work: Women suffer over three times more than men

Unwanted sexual attention at work: Women suffer over three times more than men
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Women in the European Union are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from unwanted sexual attention than men in the workplace, shows a detailed new analysis from Eurofound, based on the 2021 European Working Conditions Telephone Survey.

The likelihood of a young woman (18–34 years) reporting unwanted sexual attention is three times higher than men of the same age, and 10 times higher than the oldest group of men (over-50s), the data showed.

This problem is even more acute for frontline workers: healthcare workers reported up to three times higher levels of unwanted sexual attention than the EU average (5.7% compared with 1.7%). To put this in perspective, just 0.3% of information and communication professionals reported unwanted sexual attention.

Overall, women and frontline workers are most exposed to the risks of adverse social behaviour – which can range from bullying, harassment, violence, verbal abuse or threats to unwanted sexual attention – at work, such as burnout, exhaustion, anxiety and depression.

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The analysis from Eurofound emphasised that adverse social behaviour at work poses a significant risk to workers’ health and well-being, and can have a long-term (mental and/or physical) impact on people – a phenomenon known as psychosocial risk.

People who experience adverse social behaviour in the workplace are around three times more likely to experience physical and emotional burnout (32% compared to 10%) and emotional exhaustion (40% compared to 14%), and almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety (53% compared to 27%) or be at risk of depression (38% compared to 20%).

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