Many women face online abuse simply because they have an active online presence as part of their working life. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (Australia) has produced a research report, Women in the Spotlight, which documents women’s experiences with online abuse in their working lives.
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. It is informed by in-depth interviews with 20 women who had experienced online abuse and an online survey involving 1491 women working in different sectors including law, banking, marketing, journalism and community services. It found women were retreating from online spaces and lowered their public profiles because of online abuse.
The 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 and younger women.
The women reported harassment, doxing and trolling, mostly on social media. 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.