No, Women are not More Likely to be Murdered at Work than Men.

Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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40 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    You’re leaving out a fairly big part of the equation, here.

    In Twitter Math, the degree to which claims are judged to be factually correct are based on the number of retweets of that claim — at a factor of one per every 10,000 retweets.

    So if that claim about women murdered at work (WM@W) is retweeted, say, 30,000 times the math works like this:

    64 (WM@W) X 3 = 192 (WM@W) , or 58% of all work place murders.

    So the Tweeters are in fact correct. That’s just science.Report

  2. Chris says:

    The wording is poor, but they actually lay out what they mean: murder constitutes a much higher percentage of workplace deaths for women than for men. This seems like something worth highlighting, particularly if it is in fact true that it is the leading cause of workplace death for women (and it also reiterates how friggin’ dangerous workplaces are in general for men).Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

      “The odds of a woman who was going to die in the workplace dying as a result of gun violence is higher than the odds of a man who was going to die in the workplace dying as a result of gun violence.”

      That is true. I’m not sure what it tells us… Though I’d primarily look at the types of work men and women do. I’m suspicious of the connection to domestic abuse because the home seems a far “better” place to target. How people seem to be using the stat though seems inaccurate… Deliberately or otherwise.

      Has anyone read “Proofiness”? Seems up the alley of many folks here.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

      From what I understand (link to WaPo):
      After car accidents, homicide is the most likely way for women to die at work, representing 21 percent of workplace deaths.

      But Reason puts that in perspective:
      The problem is that the raw number of women who die at work in a year is extraordinarily small. In fact, there were more men murdered at work in 2013 (341) than there were women who died at work of any cause at all (321).Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

      I want to agree with Chris here, and it’s not that it’s uninteresting that a higher percent of workplace deaths of women are murders than of workplace deaths of men.

      But it’s really just flatly false that women are more “susceptible” to being murdered at work than men. A greater percentage of men who work (and therefore of men) will go to work and get murdered than of women, and that’s pretty much that. What the claim seems to rest on instead is a very stylized meaning of “susceptible,” and one completely unrelated to the numbers used to make that claim. First of all, I think the author was just generally anti-empirically playing on ideas of feminine vulnerability by using that term (rather than Vikram’s “likely”). But in particular, he seemed to have something very particular in mind about what that word should mean in this piece, namely that he specifically talks about women being in public on the job and in a known location, making them vulnerable to abusers who stalk them there. And maybe numbers on that bear a particular claim about that out.)

      But it really is only the fact that workplaces that men go to in disproportionate numbers are disproportionately life-threateningly dangerous that is illustrated by the fact that men’s disproportionately high likelihood of being murdered on the job is so dwarfed by their even more disproportionate likelihood of dying on the job some other way, that it still renders the percentage of women’s deaths on the job that are murders nevertheless higher than that of men’s deaths on the job.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Michael Drew says:

        he specifically talks about women being in public on the job and in a known location, making them vulnerable to abusers who stalk them there. And maybe numbers on that bear a particular claim about that out.

        Oh, it does:

        Of the men killed at work, *1%* are killed by relatives or domestic partners.

        *36%* of murdered women are killed by those people.

        In fact, it’s actually *possible* to make the claim ‘more women, numerically, are murdered at work by relatives or domestic partners than men are by those people’, *even with* the large imbalance in male deaths.

        The chart doesn’t have numbers, but it looks like about 23 women died from that in 2013, while 3 men did.

        Now *that* might be an interesting claim to base an article on: ‘Despite five times more men than women being murdered at work, seven times as many women were murdered by relatives or domestic partners.’

        Of course, the fact that relative or domestic partner is the leading murderer of women in the workplace does not really show anything about workplaces because that group is the leading murderer of women, period.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    Wow, that’s just terri…

    Oh, wait, there are how many tens of millions of women active in the workforce?

    And 66 of them were murdered?

    Dear lord that is an epidemic, we must Do Something(TM). If you’ll excuse me, I’ll continue to be concerned about domestic violence as a whole, rather than worry about the rare instances where it fatally spills into the workplace (a concern that is inspired by an event that has nothing to do with domestic violence).Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      We can’t talk about the event that inspired this discussion.

      This discussion is what we have.


      To what extent should we worry about women being murdered in the workplace and the extent to which these murders are disproportionate to their representation therein?Report

      • Damon in reply to Jaybird says:


        Let’s have a discussion about the event that inspired this discussion.

        I can’t tell you how many of the examples like the one VK breaks down I read monthly. When I bother to do that math, I come to the same conclusion that Oscar does, namely, x amount of injuries/death over the total population is so inconsequential that I roll my eyes.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      People care about tragedies to other humans that they do not know personally when the numbers are lower because that makes it more personally even if it is also less tragic.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        This bit of statistical data is interesting, in a sense. I’m sure people who are wonks with regard to workplace violence find it even more so.

        But the TP piece sells it as a major issue (labelling it a “Common Occurrence”). Which I find dishonest.Report

        • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Dont you know that liberals never want to waste a crisis so they can get the govt to implement some feel good program.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          It is dishonest but sometimes the only way to get people to care about something minor but important is to present it as something major. Politics does involve some creative truth-telling at times.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

            So not only has the author failed to convince me this is an important issue in need of attention, but by being dishonestly creative they have trashed any credibility they may hope to have had with me, & assured that when I see people post this crap on social media, I’ll make a point to put it in an honest context.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      The actual murders are pretty small.

      What is might be worth talking about, however, is the fact that workplace actually *is* an easy place to find women, and how many of women threatened by domestic violence are forced not to attend their jobs, or even to drop a professional career they can easily be located in and take up pseudo-anonymous min-wage employment somewhere?

      I.e., it’s not the homicides per se, it’s the *threat* of homicides. Women often can *keep* from getting murdered…but at what cost?

      Edit: I’m wondering if there is a ‘Canonical list of things women have to deal with that affect their careers and jobs that men usually don’t’, cause this goes on it. Both fear of a stalker, and that stalker actually showing up and it reflecting poorly on them even if they aren’t harmed.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

        This is more interesting, especially if we look at incidents of violence, rather than just death, & we expand it to incidents along the way to or from work. The why is obvious. What we can do about it less so? Can employers do something? Is it reasonable to obligate them, or is there an incentive to apply? Do we need some legal protection if woman informs her employer of a stalker/violent partner? Etc.Report

        • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          This is more interesting, especially if we look at incidents of violence, rather than just death

          Yeah, that was sorta a weird cutoff to start with. Like everything’s fine as long as no one dies. Pretty sure that’s not how OSHA views workplace accidents, and probably isn’t how we should view workplace violence.

          we expand it to incidents along the way to or from work.

          Ah, yes, good point. *Workplaces* often have some sort of ‘security’, either the official sort or just people ‘hiding in the back until he leaves and everyone lies that she’s not there’.

          Can employers do something?

          That is really the question.Report

        • zic in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          There is likely some subset of men murdered at work who are victims due to their relationship with a woman (or man) who’s had a relationship with an abuser/stalker, too.

          I wonder how that skewers things.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to zic says:

            Yeah, while ‘What is the attacker’s relationship to the victim?’ is easy, I’ve always wanted to see things broken down by ‘What was the *motive*?’, which, admittedly, is a little harder, and sometimes is a bit of guesswork, but it should be possible to classify *most* attacks.Report

  4. Brian Murphy says:


  5. Joe Sal says:

    Errrrr…. we’re obviously not counting annual drone strikes in the workplace.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    40 people die per year by bee stings.

    Are men disproportionately represented among them?

    I can’t find demographics but I’ll assume that they are.

    What conclusions can we reach from this fact coupled with this assumption?Report

  7. Brandon Berg says:

    Men three times more likely to be murdered at work—women hit hardest.

    There’s a cottage industry in taking facts that unambiguously show men getting the short end of certain sticks and spinning them in a way that permits a “women hit hardest” story. I found this gem at National Geographic a while back:

    In the U.S., women live longer—81 years on average, 76 for men—but a recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reveals a troubling trend. Though men’s life spans have increased by 4.6 years since 1989, women have gained only 2.7 years, perhaps because a larger percentage of women have lacked adequate treatment for high blood pressure and cholesterol.

    Although life expectancy increased for both sexes, it’s a “troubling trend” that it increased more for men. The title: “Ladies Last.” I guess that could refer to the fact that they tend to die last, but given the tone of the post, that seems unlikely.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      If women’s life expectancy is not increasing *due to* them not getting the same sort of medical attention as men, that actually *is* an important fact we should do something about.

      Of course, the article presents no real evidence of that, and it’s hypothetically possible the entire thing could work the other way around…men are just now getting the medical attention that women had for a long time.

      Or this could be completely unrelated, and it’s entirely possible what happened now is that the first gen of equal-opportunity women smokers are reaching the end of their life and impacting their stats. There’s not really any evidence to make any conclusion.

      However, if what the article *postulates* is true, that women’s medical needs are being ignored in a specific area, that is, in fact, ‘troubling’, *even if* their lifespan is also going up at the same time.Report

  8. Doctor Jay says:

    You know, back when I learned feminism in the Seventies, there was a lot of talk about chivalry and how it put women on a pedestal, and how seductive that pedestal was. The Pedestal was a lot of things, describing women as “the gentler sex” or “the fairer sex” and things like “if women ran the world…”. These were demeaning ideas, but they were dressed in beautiful clothing. Not a few of these ideas were also demeaning to men – to wit, the idea that only men are capable of violence.

    Even while there is a point to the current ideas about Violence Against Women – a point that has to do with performative violence and how it has a powerful role in political orders; a point where one perpetrates violence against the innocent and helpless as a way to gain advantage – it also frequently gets expanded to include any and all violence that happens to land on women.

    As we get closer to a gender-equal society, the amount of violence landing on men and women should probably equalize, and this will mean that, according to a proportional measure, violence will land on women more. At the same time, overall violence will decline (and it has been declining over the last 20 years) and consequently the absolute rate of violence against women will decline as well.Report