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Study Notes

The Everyday Sexism Project, ‘Still Just a Bit of Banter? Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in 2016’, (2016)


Last updated 24 Aug 2020

An overview of this recent piece of sociological research, including how it links to A Level specifications

Brief summary of research methods:

  • The TUC commissioned polling on sexual harassment in the workplace: 1533 adult women in Great Britain were polled.
  • To gather qualitative data to complement the polling, an online survey of union members was carried out. The polling questions were designed to provide insight into the nature of sexual harassment and the experience itself, i.e. the characteristics of the workplace and the perpetrators themselves.

Key findings:

  • 52% of all women polled have experienced sexual harassment.
  • 35% of women have heard comments of a sexual nature being made about other women in the workplace.
  • 28% of women have been subject to comments of a sexual nature about their body or clothes.
  • Nearly a quarter of women studied have experienced unwanted touching.
  • The perpetrator was a male colleague in the majority of sexual harassment cases, with one in five reporting that the perpetrator was in authority over them.
  • Four out of five women did not report the sexual harassment.

Link to specification:

Link to Families and Households:

  • The findings of this report can be linked to sociological research which highlights that women are expected to carry out a ‘triple shift’ of paid work, domestic work and emotional labour. So, women are not only expected to carry out a triple shift but also experience harassment and exploitation within the workplace. Marxist feminists in particular would emphasise that women are oppressed by the capitalist and patriarchal system in both the public and private sphere; they are treated as replaceable and of a lower status to men.
  • These findings also highlight persistent inequalities within the workplace whereby men not only maintain positions of seniority and leadership across industries but also use this power to subordinate and objectify women. This analysis can lead into a greater discussion on the extent to which society is patriarchal and its impact on women.

Link to Education:

  • Existing research on ‘the male gaze’ and how female pupils are objectified and harassed by both male pupils and male teachers, albeit in different ways, can link to the findings mentioned in the study. Can be argued that female pupils not only experience sexual harassment during their education but also in the workplace highlighting the patriarchal nature of society’s institutions.
  • Some may argue that experiences of sexual harassment are disheartening and embarrassing, and women may hesitate to demonstrate their abilities in classroom settings or go for promotions in the workplace for fear of further harassment or subordination. Thus, this analysis can be used when discussing the impact of ‘the male gaze’ on aspirations of female pupils and how this can affect their life chances and successes after schooling.

Link to Crime and Deviance:

  • Findings can also be used when studying females as victims of crimes. Whilst majority of women experience sexual harassment, they are less likely to report it indicating potential distrust in the criminal justice system or the ability for workplaces to deal with their cases properly.

Link to original article:

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