One in four MPs, including half of women MPs, say they have been personally aware of sexual harassment or abuse happening in parliament, according to a ComRes survey for Young Women’s Trust.
The poll of more than 150 MPs also found that 89 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men say that sexism still exists in parliament.
Young Women’s Trust’s previous research showed three in 10 young women said they had experienced sex discrimination when working or looking for work and one in eight large employers were aware of workplace sexual harassment that had gone unreported.
Young Women’s Trust Chief Executive Dr Carole Easton said: “Sexual harassment is not just happening in parliament, but in workplaces across the country. Too many young women are facing sexism and harassment while trying to carry out their jobs.
“It can be particularly hard for women on low pay or in insecure work to report being harassed by senior colleagues or bosses, knowing their job may (wrongly) be on the line. We’ve heard the stories of a huge number of women and now we need concrete action.
“Parliament should set the standard. If our lawmakers can’t get it right, we have a real problem.
“As well as putting good reporting policies and training in place, employers should also take preventative action. Supporting more women into a male-dominated workplace, for example, can help change the culture. Everyone should be able to feel safe at work.”
Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee which is carrying out an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, said: “The work we have carried out into this issue reveals that sexual harassment is a serious problem in many workplaces, affecting thousands of people. We hope to identify solutions with our new inquiry.
“There needs to be a culture change in order to keep women safe as well as providing effective legal remedies. We are also going to look at whether non-disclosure agreements are being abused by legal experts and employers to cover up wrongdoing. We continue to welcome written evidence submissions on how best to tackle these problems.”
A survey of people working in the Scottish Parliament, including MSPs, found a fifth of Holyrood staff and a third of women had experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour in their workplace. Forty five per cent of those who reported that they had experienced sexual harassment said the perpetrator was an MSP.