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22 Intriguing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics


sexual harassment in the workplace

22 Intriguing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics

Sexual harassment is rampant in the workplace, and unfortunately, many people still believe that reporting it will lead to nothing good. Recently, it has gotten a lot of attention thanks to #MeToo and other similar movements that encourage victims to speak up and take action. Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace statistics show a clear upward trend. What’s worse, companies continue to be slow in responding with proper training, transparency, and options for victims. 

The Top 10 Statistics You Must Know on Sexual Harassment at Work

  • 21% of Americans have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • 81% of sexual harassment victims are women.
  • 64% of healthcare workers experience verbal abuse.
  • Approximately 21% of UK doctors have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment at work.
  • 22% of healthcare professionals report being assaulted.
  • The sexual harassment in the workplace statistics note that 28% of victims don’t report the harassment to human resources or management usually out of fear that nothing will be done.
  • 58% of female surgeons have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • 82.5% of women have reported sexual harassment in academic medical centers.
  • 68% of women experience harassment in public spaces, including streets and parks. 
  • There was a 13.6% increase in sexual harassment complaints between 2017 and 2018.

General Sexual Harassment Facts and Statistics

Sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, often goes unreported. Most victims fear that nothing will be done with their complaint, while others are 100% certain of it because of previous experience in which the company did nothing. Over recent years, sexual harassment has become a key discussion topic, with many movements taking action to prevent it and encourage victims to come forward and report instances. 

1. The EEOC has harassment statistics from 2017 revealing that there were 6,696 sexual harassment charges in that year.


Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission further show that these charges resulted in $46.3 million in payouts for the victims in these sexual harassment cases. Victims are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those involved may be female or male, as long as the conduct is unwanted. What’s more, this doesn’t necessarily require that the victim be the one who is directly harassed.

2. Workplace harassment statistics from 2017 show that 26,978 claims of workplace harassment were received by the EEOC in 2017.


These numbers are of general workplace harassment. Of this number, 12,428 of the complaints were for sex-based harassment—a type of harassment in which a victim is made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in their job due to their gender. About a quarter of the harassment charges were specific sexual harassment claims. This shows that harassment is a significant problem in the workplace in general, with sex-based harassment being the most common type.

3. 21% of Americans have encountered sexual harassment at work, according to the workplace harassment statistics from 2018.

(Edison Research)

These new statistics are possible through recent #MeToo movements together with the latest research into the gig economy. Of all those surveyed, 27% of women were sexually harassed at work, as were 14% of men. Of the 24% of Americans employed in the gig economy, 30% have experienced harassment at work. Regardless of the work environment, men have drastically lower numbers in reported sexual harassment. 

4. The statistics on sexual harassment measured over a person’s lifetime show that 49% of women have been touched in an unwelcome and sexual way. 


The statistics further show that one in five men experienced being touched in a sexual and unwelcome way at some point in their lifetimes. 30% of women and 12% of men had been flashed. Cyber sexual harassment is also rampant, with 40% of women and 18% of men experiencing it in their lifetimes. Although the number of men experiencing sexual harassment is lower, it’s important to understand that they’re also affected by it.

5. Street harassment statistics from 2018 reveal that 68% of women experience harassment in public places. 


Meanwhile, 38% of women experienced sexual harassment at school or in the workplace, while 37% experienced it in a club or nightlife setting. They aren’t safe in their homes either, with 31% experiencing sexual harassment there. Men also experience sexual harassment, with 23% reporting experiencing it in public spaces, 15% in their home or at school, 14% experience sexual harassment in someone else’s home, and another 14% at work.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare employees often experience sexual harassment and assault—both of which are discussed in the following statistics. Sexual assault refers to any form of sexual touching or contact without the victim’s consent. It also includes cases in which the perpetrator coerces or physically forces the victim to engage in any sexual act against their will. 

6. 81% of sexual harassment victims working in healthcare are women.


In this industry, the majority of victims are women, and more than half (61%) of the harassers were older than the person harassed. Also, research into sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace reveals that the perpetrator is not only older but might hold a more dominant role at work, at 37%. Healthcare staff experienced the most sexual harassment from other colleagues, at 54% of all cases. At nearly a quarter (24%), they were harassed by other coworkers. However, a total of 42% of healthcare workers experienced harassment by patients.

7. 64% of healthcare workers are verbally abused when they experience sexual harassment at work, statistics show.


These numbers are considerably lower than the reality as many healthcare workers don’t report sexual harassment, especially if it’s verbal. Verbal abuse may consist of inappropriate jokes or unwanted remarks. It’s the most common type of harassment reported by healthcare workers. This form of sexual harassment may be from colleagues, or it can come from patients. Many harassers don’t realize that saying something offensive is still considered sexual harassment, often feeling they’ve done nothing wrong.

8. Sexual discrimination statistics reveal that there are significant gender-related gaps in pay in the healthcare industry.


It’s common for female healthcare workers to earn about 28% less than their male counterparts. While nearly all industries worldwide haven’t surmounted issues with the pay gap, in the healthcare industry, this gap is slightly more significant. Various factors play into this, like differences in working hours and different positions in the healthcare system. But when these are factored out, there’s still an unexplained 11.2% wage gap. 

9. Workplace harassment statistics from 2018 in the USA report that 12% of female physicians experienced sexual harassment and abuse.


The Sexual Harassment of Physicians Report from 2018 shows that more than 10% of women have personally experienced misconduct, harassment, or sexual abuse, and 4% of men have. On the other hand, 14% of men have witnessed misconduct, harassment, or sexual abuse, while 13% of women have. Men accused of sexual abuse, misconduct, or harassment were 3%, with 0% of women. What’s frightening is that even though men don’t experience sexual harassment as much as women, they witness it more. 

10. When it comes to harassment in the workplace, recent articles from 2018 indicate that 21% of UK doctors either witnessed or experienced sexual harassment at work.


Statistics reveal that sexual harassment in healthcare is pervasive. A survey of 1,316 UK doctors asked if they’d experienced or witnessed sexual harassment. Along with this number, 17% of the surveyed doctors revealed that they’d experienced sexual harassment from a patient. 3% of those surveyed were harassed by a colleague, while only 4% witnessed sexual harassment. 

11. 22% of the healthcare employees who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace reported cases where they’d been assaulted.


UK healthcare workers experience a high percentage of sexual harassment and assault. Nearly a quarter of these healthcare workers reported that they’d been sexually assaulted, whether by co-workers, other healthcare workers, or patients. This assault may or may not have involved further criminal offenses, including up-skirting, rape, inappropriate touching, or indecent exposure. 

12. In the case of sexual assault in the workplace, statistics show that 28% of victims don’t mention the harassment at all.


It’s still taboo to report sexual harassment in the workplace. Only 20% of victims actually opened up and reported the incident to the appropriate workplace authority. For the healthcare employees who didn’t report sexual harassment, 49% felt that nothing would be done, 37% thought they would be considered oversensitive, and 24% believed that the person accused would retaliate when they found out about the report. Although a lot is being done to protect anyone reporting sexual harassment, obviously more can be done. 

13. As for female harassment in the workplace, statistics show that 58% of female surgeons have been sexually harassed in some way.


These statistics cover the experience of female surgeons for a year before the survey. Female surgeons experienced unwanted physical or verbal conduct that was of a sexual nature. They also experienced unwelcome physical contact and sexual advances from colleagues, other healthcare workers, and patients. Furthermore, the survey revealed that fellows and residents were doubly more likely to experience harassment compared to faculty members. 

14. Sexual abuse in the workplace often goes unreported because rarely is action taken.


For 53% of the healthcare employees who reported sexual harassment, their company or management team did nothing. This alone continues to discourage victims from reporting sexual harassment, as it could harm them and their reputation, not to mention their overall trust in the system in the future. Nevertheless, movements such as #MeToo are working toward giving power back into the hands of the victims.

15. One recent study of sexual harassment in the workplace has statistics showing that as many as 82.5% of women working in academic medical facilities have reported sexual harassment.

(Florence Health)

The men and women working in academic medical centers are more active in reporting sexual harassment. More than 80% of women and 65% of men filed at least one report of sexual harassment by faculty, students, or staff in the past year. Furthermore, the same survey determined that 64.4% of women and 44.1% of men in healthcare experienced sexual harassment from patients or the family of patients over the last year. These numbers are also linked to a drop in the sense of safety at work, overall job satisfaction, and general mental health among healthcare workers.

16. Sexual assault in the workplace has a devastating psychological impact on most victims. 


In fact, 55% of victims of sexual harassment ended up isolating themselves by avoiding certain situations and coworkers. Furthermore, 35% felt that the harassment had a negative impact on their mental health, while just one percent less (34%) felt it negatively impacted their confidence. Furthermore, approximately 40% felt the need to leave their work. 

17. Workplace sexual harassment statistics reveal that when a patient harasses a healthcare worker, 53% of the time, the patient acted out in an overtly sexual manner. 

(The Guardian)

This is the most common form of sexual harassment that healthcare workers deal with. Second to that, at 29%, is being asked on a date by patients. 24% of healthcare workers have experienced patients rubbing or groping them. Approximately 13% of the time, a healthcare worker was invited to meet the patient for a sexual encounter, and just 6% of them received a letter, an email, or photographs with sexual content.

Solutions to Harassment in the Workplace

Unfortunately, it seems like many companies still need to take the initiative and take action against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. The good thing is that movements like #MeToo have given victims a voice, and there’s been a remarkable change in the number of reports by victims taking action against their perpetrators. Still, there’s a long way to go to reduce sexual harassment and give a voice to the many victims who are still afraid to report their experience.

18. In the case of workplace sexual harassment, there was a 13.6% increase in sexual harassment complaints between 2017 and 2018.

(SAI Global)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 9.3% less overall harassment complaints in 2018. However, the number of complaints concerning sexual harassment has gone up dramatically. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more sexual harassment, but rather that since movements like #MeToo, victims are more open to filing a report following sexual harassment.

19. Workplace harassment statistics show that even in the wake of #MeToo, companies need to make more changes in their work environment to prevent sexual harassment.


Unfortunately, even though there’s been a lot of focus on sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, there doesn’t seem to be much change regarding companies taking action when it happens. Even with the push for more transparent environments that encourage victims to speak up, only 15% of the 150 organizations in the #MeToo in the Workplace Report took action to create specific strategies to take on sexual harassment in the workplace.

20. Workplace harassment statistics from 2019 reveal that many people don’t know how to report sexual harassment.


Education about sexual harassment and proper training in the workplace about reporting such a significant problem is overlooked. Almost a third of respondents in a recent survey revealed they have no idea how to make a report when they see or experience sexual harassment at work. The same number of people indicated that no recent action has actually been taken at their work to prevent or reduce sexual harassment. 

21. Statistics on sexual harassment in the workplace show that complainants received nearly $70 million in 2018.


The EEOC fights for sexual harassment victims. Since the #MeToo movement, the recovered amount has gone up dramatically since 2017, when only $47.5 million was recovered for complaints. Furthermore, the Time’s Up fund has received over 4,000 requests from women needing help from one of the 850 lawyers affiliated with the group. Victims are realizing that there’s help for them if they need assistance in the wake of sexual harassment.

22. The sexual harassment facts show that 5% of victims had to leave their job due to sexual harassment, abuse, or assault.


At least one survey shows that 15% of individuals are aware of specific harassment cases in which the right action was not taken. This further encourages victims of sexual harassment to stay quiet rather than report instances. Whether they reported it or not, victims of sexual harassment are often forced to change jobs because the harassment doesn’t cease or they face repercussions from reporting or shame. 


How many cases of workplace harassment are filed each year?

According to the EEOC’s numbers, over the last eight years, the number of sex-based harassment allegations have stayed between 12,000 and 13,000 yearly. In 2018, this number was highest at 13,055 for sex-based harassment allegations, including alleged sexual harassment charges. Keep in mind this number does not include charges filed with local and state agencies promoting fair employment practices. 

What is workplace violence and harassment?

Workplace harassment or violence is any threat or act of physical violence, intimidation, harassment, or any other disruptive behavior that is threatening in some way and takes place in the workplace. It can be anything from verbal abuse to physical assault between employees, customers, clients, or visitors to the workplace.

How common is catcalling?

Catcalling, or as some call it, street harassment is very common – with 65% of women recently revealing in a survey to have experienced catcalling or some other form of street harassment. In comparison, only 25% of men have experienced street harassment.

How many females in America are sexually assaulted annually?

In 2018, an estimated 652,676 females and 81,956 males reported sexual assault, nearly double 2017’s numbers. This jump is primarily due to movements such as #MeToo encouraging victims to report cases of sexual assault.

What is economic harassment?

Economic harassment or abuse is when a partner in a relationship has full control over access to the other partner’s economic resources. This prevents the victim from supporting themself and forces them into a position of financial dependency.

What percentage of male students claim to have been sexually harassed?

Approximately 6.8% of undergraduate men and about 2.5% of graduate and professional male students report sexual assault.


Sexual harassment is a problem that has been going on for years. The workplace is the most common place it’s experienced as most people spend the majority of their time there. Healthcare, specifically, continues to be a leading industry where sexual harassment is a significant problem between colleagues, other healthcare workers, and patients.

When it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, statistics won’t show a positive change until employers are ready to take the necessary steps toward ensuring a safer and more transparent working environment for their employees.


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