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Report published on gender-based and sexual harassment in higher education

The study concludes that unwanted sexual attention is most common amongst young people, women and students.

Around four per cent of staff and students at 38 Swedish higher education institutions say they have been subject to “unwanted sexual attention in the work/study environment” over the past 12 months. The extent differs, however, between different groups; six per cent of female students report that they were exposed during this period, as opposed to two per cent of male staff.

The responses are part of the national study on gender-based violence in academia, whose report was presented on 20 May. To address the nature of gender-based and sexual harassment from a situational perspective over a long period of time, the survey asked eleven questions about different forms of unwanted sexual behaviour. A total of 38 per cent of respondents answered that they had experienced such behaviour at least once during their time as an employee or student. Using this measure, female doctoral students reported the highest rate: 53 per cent.

Apart from the prevalence of sexual harassment, the survey also contained questions on issues such as the organisational and social work environment, health, bullying, hate and intimidation.

For more details and results, please see the report on the study's website External link, opens in new window..

Springboard for furthering work environment management

The project will now deepen its analysis of the survey's results and the steering group hopes that this initial report will lead to important discussions and activities in Swedish academia.

At Södertörn University, a working group has been appointed by the vice-chancellor. It will review and analyse the university’s results and then propose measures to improve the university’s work and study environments.

“It is important that we harness what emerged in the study and use these results as a springboard for furthering our work environment management,” says Anna Jutterdal, HR Director at Södertörn University. “The university must be a place in which no employees, doctoral students or other students are exposed to sexual harassment or bullying. We hope to present measures before the summer break.”

Report on gender-based and sexual harassment in higher education

Facts about the study

For the first time, Swedish higher education institutions have conducted a joint national survey on the prevalence of gender-based and sexual harassment in the academic sector. The responses from a total of almost 39,000 employees and students show that young people, women and students (including doctoral students) are particularly at risk. The joint study involves KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Malmö University and the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at the University of Gothenburg.

Link to the report. External link, opens in new window.


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