Sexism, which was once rife in the business world in the fifties and sixties, is not a thing of the past, a new study has revealed.
Researchers found that half of female workers believe that they are sexually discriminated against on a daily basis.
A survey of 3,434 working women found 50 percent experienced some form of “gender harassment”, including offensive sexist remarks or chauvinistic jokes.
Of those who claim to have suffered harassment, four out of 10 have been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, such as a slap on the bottom or hand on the thigh.
More than one in four have even been kissed by a colleague or boss despite spurning their advances.
Two thirds of women said a manager or male employee had made inappropriate comments about their choice of clothing,
Alarmingly, one third of women have considered leaving work because of the problems they are forced to endure.
The worrying figures emerged amid a study carried out by online legal advice service AdviseMeBarrister.com.
“We were shocked to discover the extent of sexual harassment in UK workplaces, women are having to run the gauntlet of inappropriate workplace behaviour every day of the week,” the Daily Mail quoted Barrister Rachel Temple, who launched the company with colleague Oliver Cook, as saying.
“Hundreds of thousands of women are suffering discrimination of some kind, but half of those we spoke to said they simply don’t know where to turn to for help,” she said.
Of the 1,760 who have been harassed in the work place, 1,222 went on to answer a number of delicate questions about the behaviour they felt they were being subjected to every day.
The results showed that one in four have suffered mental or physical health problems in the wake of their experiences.
More than four out of 10 said they had resorted to dressing down after colleagues made comments about their clothes.
The study also revealed a further 43 percent claim to have been sworn at by colleagues, while the same percentage have been propositioned in a manner which made them feel awkward.
Six out of 10 have felt distressed when male colleagues have referred to them inappropriately in front of others.
And when it comes to moving up the career ladder, many women feel they are treated as second best because of their gender.
23 percent of women feel convinced a colleague has secured a promotion that was rightfully theirs, just because they were male, but half of those polled wouldn’t know who to go to if they wanted to lodge a complaint or take legal action.
A quarter of women claim male colleagues in exactly the same position as them are being paid more, while 37 percent say members of the opposite sex are often chosen over them for tasks they can easily do.
But of the people polled, only one in five women have reported a colleague, line manager or boss for sexual harassment or discrimination.
Just over half said they would be worried about people believing them, while 29 percent don’t want a black mark against their name.
12 percent of ladies feel they would ruin their chances of a promotion if they made a fuss, and 31 percent don’t want to be known as a trouble maker.
“We were sad to hear that 30 per cent of women we surveyed didn''t do anything about the problems they were facing because they didn''t want to be known as a troublemaker, and furthermore they were - understandably - confused about the legal process,” Temple said.
“Many of these issues escalate to the point of not being solvable within the workplace and that''s where the legal profession could be useful. We can advise confidentially and entirely online on whether there is a case or not to pursue. Unfortunately there often is.
“Until recently people who believe they have a legal case, employment-based or otherwise, had to go to a solicitor in the first instance, having to take time off work and potentially racking up large bills, before even knowing if they had something worth pursuing or not.
“You can now come directly to a barrister - who is often the person a solicitor would consult anyway - and ask their advice. For a fixed fee of 150 pounds we’ll tell our clients whether their case is worth pursuing before they spend another penny,” she added.