Women are more likely than men to experience workplace harassment, according to a new report by Statistics Canada, which noted it’s more common in health-related fields.
The report, which asked about 9,000 people between the ages of 15 and 64 about incidents of harassment during the previous 12 months, defined workplace harassment as experiences of verbal abuse, humiliating behaviour, threats, physical violence and unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment.
More women than men reported experiencing at least one incident, with 19 per cent of women versus 13 per cent of men saying they had been harassed at work. Both men and women said clients or customers were the most common source of harassment, including 53 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men.
The report also noted women are more likely to work in the health field, which involves a high degree of interaction with the public. Overall, those in the health field — including nurses and doctors — had a 23 per cent probability of reporting harassment, including 27 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men.
In contrast, those in natural and applied sciences — such as engineers and computer and information system professionals — had a nine per cent probability of reporting harassment.
Researchers also linked workplace harassment to workplace well-being, such as job dissatisfaction and motivation levels. Women who reported harassment were three times more likely to say they were unhappy with their job, at 14 per cent, than those who did not. Similar results were found for men. Harassment by a supervisor or manager was also associated with more negative effects on workplace well-being than harassment by someone else.
The study also linked workplace harassment to personal well-being, with 18 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women who reported incidents saying they had poor mental health, compared to six per cent of men and eight per cent of women who hadn’t been harassed.
Other findings included:
- After clients or customers, the next most common source of harassment for men was their supervisor or manager at 39 per cent. Among women, it was colleagues and peers at 34 per cent;
- 13 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men reported having experienced verbal abuse;
- Six per cent of women and five per cent of men reported experiencing humiliating behaviour;
- Men and women were equally likely to report having experienced threats in the workplace, at three per cent;
- About four per cent of women and less than one per cent of men reported having experienced sexual harassment or unwanted sexual attention in the workplace; and
- About three per cent of women reported having experienced physical violence, versus about one per cent of men.