Women and the Violent Workplace
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Globally workplace violence is a pressing concern. It is an ever increasing problem and thus an extensive field to research. Despite an increase in interest, there are specific areas of workplace violence that remain relatively unexplored, and this is further compounded because workplace violence is not clearly defined and neither is it readily understood (Dolan 2000, Webster et al 2007). Women’s experiences of workplace violence have been overlooked, primarily because women exist within a patriarchal society, and many are deemed of a lesser value than men. A patriarchal society has elevated men into positions of power whilst women have more generally remained subordinate, and it is this which has led to many of the experiences of working women going unrecognised as violence and abuse (Morgan and Bjokrt, 2006). Subsequently, these encounters have remained unexplored and under-researched (Dale and Acik 2005). To address this imbalance my study has adopted a feminist standpoint. It is therefore based on in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with working women from a diverse range of occupations and backgrounds, and who have endured the lived reality of a working woman’s life. By taking such an approach this study has identified many of the patterns and trends of physical, psychological and sexual violence that are relevant to the suffering of working women. Further, the findings identify how working women face supplementary risks to those generically posed to the workforce. Additionally, this study identifies ‘risky traits’ that are pertinent to the experiences of women, including systems of male power and dominance, for example, male solidarity. These are systems that exist to the detriment of women, in that many women feel fearful, believing they are isolated and indeed vulnerable in the workplace. Moreover, the workplace offers workers minimal support, if any, to female victims of workplace violence which also impacts on the health and wellbeing of working women more generally.
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