Sexual Harassment of Women is Widespread in Canada

Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson

There are almost 15 million adult women in Canada and according to our latest survey, almost 8 million of them (53%) have experienced unwanted sexual pressure. The prevalence of this experience is highest among women under 45.

Just over one in ten Canadians says sexual harassment is “really quite common” in their workplace and another 44% say it is infrequent but does happen. Men are almost as likely as women to say that women are sexually harassed at work.

Women 30-44 are most likely to see this problem in the workplace: 22% say it is common, and a total of 64% say it happens in their workplace.

The prevalence of this behaviour is no doubt in part because it rarely carries consequences for the harasser. The large majority of women, and most men, agree that normally there are no sanctions applied against those who sexually harass women in the workplace.

Canadians estimate that about one in five men are the type of person who would sexually harass a woman. Men guess the number is 17%, while women say it is 26%. Younger women observe a considerably larger number of harassers compared to older women.

If an average of 21 men are estimated to be the type who would sexually harass a woman, the number of women that Canadians estimate experience sexual harassment is about twice that number (40%). Men guess that about 1 in 3 women face harassment, while women say the number is closer to 1 in 2.


According to Bruce Anderson: “People will likely debate whether these estimates are accurate, or whether the prevalence of sexual harassment of women is even more prevalent. One thing is clear in these results – millions of Canadian men and women say they witness this problem, and say there are rarely sanctions to punish inappropriate behaviour and to help protect women.

As striking as anything in these findings is that the experience of young women is even worse than what is reported by older women. If we as a society are tempted to believe that this sort of behaviour is a relic of the past these results make it clear that is not the case.“


Our survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadians aged 18 and over between October 20th to October 23rd, 2017. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of over 500,000 Canadians.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 1,500 is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value-added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, Ph.D.

Related Articles