Skip to main content

Violence Against Women at Work

Institute Working Paper 64 | Published November 28, 2022

Download PDF


Abi Adams-Prassl University of Oxford
Kristiina Huttunen Aalto University
Emily Nix Visiting Scholar, Institute
Ning Zhang University of Oxford
Violence Against Women at Work


The #MeToo movement has demonstrated that assaults between colleagues are an internationally relevant phenomenon. In this paper, we link every police report in Finland to administrative data to identify assaults between colleagues, and the economic consequences for victims, perpetrators, and firms. This new approach to observe when one colleague attacks another overcomes previous data constraints limiting evidence on this phenomenon to self-reported surveys that do not identify perpetrators. We document large, persistent labor market impacts of between-colleague violence on victims and perpetrators. Male perpetrators experience substantially weaker consequences after attacking female colleagues. Perpetrators’ relative economic power in male-female violence partly explains this asymmetry. Turning to broader implications for firm recruitment and retention, we find that male-female violence causes a decline in women at the firm, both because fewer new women are hired and current female employees leave. There is no change in hiring from within existing employees’ networks, ruling out supply-side explanations for the reduction in new female hires via "whisper networks". Management practices play a key role in mediating the impacts on the wider workforce. Only male-managed firms lose women. Female managers do one important thing differently: fire perpetrators.