Risk of Sexual Harassment Rises 10 Fold for Women in Casual, Contract Jobs

by Tanya Thomas on Sep 12 2008 5:00 PM

A new study has revealed that women employed in casual and contract work are 10 times more likely to be at the receiving end of unwanted and lewd sexual advances. This, however, doesn’t hold good for women in permanent full-time positions.

Led by Associate Professor Anthony LaMontagne of the McCaughey Centre, VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health and Community Wellbeing, the University of Melbourne study examined the likelihood of sexual harassment in different types of employment.

"The study is important new evidence because precarious employment has been associated with a variety of adverse working conditions as well as with poorer mental and physical health," said LaMontagne.

He added: "Our study shows that 79 per cent of those who experience unwanted sexual advances at work are women. People who are employed in casual jobs are about five times more likely to be subjected to unwanted sexual advances.

"The research also shows that people in contract positions are about ten times more likely to be sexually harassed at work."

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation CEO Todd Harper said: "Not only are women more likely to experience sexual harassment but females make up bigger proportions of industries which use more casual and contract labor."

"There is a strong link between sexual harassment and mental health problems. This behavior is costly and preventable. This research builds on the growing evidence that the workplace is an important setting for improving health and wellbeing," Mr. Harper adds."

"These findings suggest that workers in precarious employment arrangements need much greater protection from unwanted sexual advances," said LaMontagne.

The study will be presented at the From Margins to Mainstream Conference: 5th World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and the Prevention of Mental and Behavioral Disorders.