Women working in retail are at a higher risk of contracting MRSA than their male counterparts, a new study shows.
It comes amid a backlash against women in the workforce after a series of women reported being harassed, physically assaulted and raped by male co-workers.
The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard and the University of California, Irvine, found that female retail employees are at higher risk for contracting MRAS than their peers who are not women.
Women workers in retail, the study found, are at risk of having at least one coworker with MRSA and more than one co-worker with MRAS, compared to a male worker.
They are also at higher odds of contracting the bacteria, according to the study.
The researchers compared data from 2,091 retail employees who had worked at Walmart for five years or more to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported in July that MRSA infections among women had declined for the first time since 2011.
The findings are likely to raise questions about Walmart’s approach to its own female workforce, which includes a new strategy to address harassment and a growing number of women employees who say they have experienced sexual harassment, according the study’s lead author, Katherine Baehr, a graduate student at Harvard.
The authors are now examining Walmart’s policies and practices in an effort to find ways to prevent the spread of MRSA in the workplace.
Walmart says it’s committed to improving the workplace environment for all of its employees, including women.
“We take the issues raised in this report very seriously, and we will be providing the necessary information to our team to better understand what’s driving this issue,” said Linda Brown, a Walmart spokeswoman.
“Our commitment to ensuring an environment free of sexual harassment and workplace violence has never wavered.”
Walmart has been criticized for its handling of workplace harassment cases in the past.
In 2015, the company settled a complaint with a former employee, who claimed she was sexually harassed and assaulted by several Walmart employees, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The settlement came less than a year after a federal judge ruled that Walmart had not yet established any procedures to help employees report harassment.
Walmart also has faced criticism for hiring women in other fields.
It has struggled to retain women as leaders at its warehouse stores in the United States, and a new survey found that the majority of its women executives are white and male.
Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A survey of workers in the retail industry conducted in April by the Retail Industry Leaders Association showed that about 70 percent of retail workers said they were sexually harassed or assaulted while working there.
The survey, conducted at Walmart, found the majority said they had experienced at least two workplace incidents of sexual or physical harassment in their career.
The most common types of incidents reported by retail workers were: Being made to feel uncomfortable in their personal space,