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Third of young women still don't know how to report harassment

Despite gender pay gap reporting and #MeToo, women still face inequality in pay and significant mental health concerns at work, finds the Young Women’s Trust

Its survey, published in the charity’s report It's (still) a rich man's world, found that, almost a year on from #MeToo, a third (32%) of young women still do not know how to report sexual harassment at work and a quarter (25%) would be reluctant to do so for fear of losing their jobs.

Young women also remain more likely to be on low pay, their job insecurity has increased, and debt levels have risen, the research showed. More than a quarter (28%) said their financial situation has gotten worse in the past year and 23% said that they are in debt all of the time.

Additionally, despite the introduction of gender pay gap reporting, one in five young women believe they are paid less than their male colleagues for the same work. Although most cited being disappointed by employers’ efforts to tackle the gender pay gap, over half (53%) said they didn’t have the confidence to challenge their bosses over the issue.

The survey also suggested that gender discrimination is having an impact on mental health, with 40% of young women saying they are worried about their mental health.

While over half (51%) think it is unlikely that gender discrimination will be a thing of the past by the time they are 40, 50% identified themselves as feminists – double the number of those in the Baby Boomer generation.

Carole Easton, chief executive at Young Women’s Trust, said the research shows that young women’s treatment at work still lags behind that of young men’s. “Sadly, even a hundred years after the first women gaining the power to vote, it’s still a rich man’s world. Young women continue to lack workplace power and spending power,” she said.

“Our annual survey shows that young women’s treatment at work, pay and wellbeing are trailing far behind those of young men.”

Easton added that action is needed from employers and the government to tackle sexism at work.

“If 2018 is to be a turning point for women’s equality and not just a footnote in history, then it’s clear that we need deeds, not just words. We need to be impatient for change: a lot has been achieved in the last 100 years but there’s still a long way to go,” she said.

“A concerted effort is needed from government and employers to provide young people with security and hope for the future, redress gender inequality at work and help manage the growing mental health crisis among young people.”

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said that sexism in the workplace should no longer be tolerated.

“Harassment, discrimination, anxiety and debt are facts of life for far too many young women today. Their lives should be better than their mothers’, but this survey suggests otherwise. We need to end the misogyny and harassment they experience and give them fair pay at work by ending pay and maternity discrimination," she said.

“This survey also shows that young women will not tolerate this level of inequality. The fact that half of them identify as feminists is a sign that they will shape their own futures.”

Young Women’s Trust commissioned Populus Data Solutions to carry out the survey of 4,010 18 to 30-year-olds and 1,115 54 to 72-year-olds in England and Wales in 2018.