Women In The Spotlight: How online abuse impacts women in their working lives

Many women face online abuse simply because they have an active online presence as part of their working life.

This research highlights women’s lived experiences of online abuse, and points to the need for greater action by online platforms and employers to prevent and respond to abuse.

In-depth interviews were done with 20 women who had experienced online abuse. Plus, an online survey was conducted involving 1491 women who were working, or had recently worked.

The research focused on women working in different sectors including law, banking, marketing, journalism and community services.

Summary of key findings

  • One in three women surveyed experienced online abuse in a work context. Rates of abuse were even higher for women with a public online or media profile, women with disability, those who identify as LGBTIQ+ and younger women.
  • The women reported different types of behaviour including harassment, doxing and trollingMost of the abuse happened on social media and many talked about the negative impact it had on their mental wellbeing and personal confidence.
  • Many women took a backwards step professionally, avoided leadership positions and stopped discussing topics they felt were inflammatory as a result of the abuse. Women retreated from online spaces and lowered their public profiles because of online abuse.