Seventy percent of British women report being verbally harassed in public

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

Seventy percent of British women have been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual comments in a public place, and half have received unwanted contact or advances, according to a new study.

Worryingly, the research also found that almost a quarter (22%) of women received the unwanted sexual comments on a frequent basis.

And younger women were found to be most at risk, with 83% of 18-34 year olds reporting unwanted comments compared to 57% of women aged 55 and over.

london street

The report, conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Southbank Centre ahead of International Women's Day and the centre's annual Women of the World (WOW) festival, surveyed 1,000 British men and women aged over 18 years by telephone interviews last month. Sadly, it paints a grim picture of life as a woman in Britain today.

As well as hinting towards the frightening frequency with which women get sexually harassed in public, the study also shines a light on continued sexism in the workplace.

Almost half of the British women (47%) surveyed reported receiving verbal harassment at work while 27% reported receiving unwanted sexual advancements. 

Published just a few months after Stylist reported a shocking 87% of women had experienced sexism at work, the study proves we are still far from being treated as equals to men in the office.

With this in mind, it's not surprising the report showed 48% of women thought there were more advantages to being male in our society, compared to just 8% who thought there were more advantages to being female.

sexism at work

The report also revealed that just 34% of the women surveyed considered themselves to be feminist. 

Speaking about the survey, Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre and founder of WOW, commented, "Right across the globe sexual harassment from the jocular to the violent is still a daily issue for many women along with poor representation of women in public life, gender pay gap, media bias, unequal domestic demands, and a host of other issues that prevent half the human race from achieving their potential." 

sexism at work

You can see more highlights from the report below:

  • Half of British women believe it will take longer than a decade to close the pay gap between men and women
  • 48 per cent of women lack confidence to ask for a pay rise, compared to just 31 per cent of men
  • 56 per cent of women report being taken less seriously at work because they are women
  • 17 per cent of those surveyed still uphold the traditional misogynistic message that men should go to work and earn money while women should stay home