More young people in Norway are experiencing sexual harassment at work, new survey shows

StressPhoto: Elisa Ventur / Unsplash

According to the National Institute of Occupational Health, almost one in five of the youngest employees say they have been exposed to unwanted sexual attention at work.

While the proportion of all employees who have experienced unwanted sexual behavior at work has increased marginally from 4.1% in 2016 to 4.5% in 2019, the increase was marked among employees between 17 and 24 years of age. In the latest survey by the National Institute of Occupational Health (Stami), 17% stated they experienced sexual harassment at work – up from 11% in the 2016 survey.

“There is as large an increase among men as women, but the level is much higher among young women. There is a big gender difference,” Tom Sterud, a researcher at Stami and one of several people who worked on the new Fact Book on Working Environment and Health 2021, stated.

Increase after #metoo

The institute points out that the #metoo campaign took place between the two surveys. With increased awareness of sexual harassment, one should perhaps expect the numbers to go down. But at the same time, increased awareness can lead people to report on behaviors or events they have previously let pass.

“We mostly believe that the numbers can be explained with increased awareness and changed attitudes to what is defined about acceptable behavior, but we can’t quantify it,” Sterud said.

Temporary staff most vulnerable

The survey shows that employees in occupational groups with widespread contact with customers, clients, or patients most often report harassment. Service professions, nursing, and care employees, and police/security have the highest representation among them. 

The figures also show that temporary employees more often state that they have experienced unwanted sexual attention compared to permanent employees.

“In summary, this means that many working people who are at the beginning of their careers are exposed to a type of behavior that should not be seen in the workplace, and which we see increases the risk of both mental illness and sick leave,” Sterud added.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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