You might be curious why female users of the largest networking site encounter inappropriate behavior. 

I wish I knew the answer, too. We don’t know what drives people to act this way. But, we can learn more about this issue from the women who are affected by it.


This time, Max Woolf from Passport-Photo.Online decided to bring to light the topic of women being bombarded with romantic advances on LinkedIn. He surveyed over 1,000 female active users to reveal:

  • the scope of the problem
  • its effect on female professionals
  • how women cope with it
  • what women expect LinkedIn to do

Read on to discover the 6 most intriguing and startling results.

A widespread concern? Unveiling the frequency

What is all the noise about? Is the phenomenon of inappropriate messages so widespread?

Based on the study’s findings, that is indeed the case. About 91% of female LinkedIn users have received romantic advances or inappropriate messages at least once. And while 30% of women reported getting them occasionally, 24% said they got them very frequently — which is defined as daily or every other day.

Unprofessional messages are a problem for almost all female LinkedIn users. Unfortunately, it does not the culture of online networking look good.

From flattery to intrusion: the range of interactions

“Inappropriate messages” is a broad category. So, let us look closely at what’s behind this phrase.

The study author, Max Woolf, delved into this topic and asked women to describe the nature of unwanted messages they receive. The result?

  • Proposals for romantic or sexual encounters came in first, with 31% of the vote. 
  • 30% of those surveyed said they were inquiries about personal or intimate matters.
  • A full 14% reported receiving unwanted compliments or flattering messages.
  • 12% encountered unsolicited, unwanted content.

The global search volume for the keyword “LinkedIn connection message” is 2.7K. A great number of searched guides focus on how to establish a networking connection that will benefit your career. Still, the most common types of unwanted messages on this platform are romantic proposals and questions about personal matters. 

It is not only unprofessional, but it also makes women feel annoyed, indifferent, and confused, as the research found. After all, this kind of behavior is not expected on networking platforms. 

Professionals would obviously prefer that their skills and expertise be prioritized over their gender and personal matters.

Taking a stand: how women choose to react

Assume you are checking your LinkedIn inbox while awaiting a response to a job offer. Instead of a message from a recruiter, you get this awkward, inappropriate note.

How do you react?

Most women decide to act out.

According to the study, female LinkedIn professionals (43%) typically confront and let the sender know when someone crosses the line. It is an impressive result, given that this type of behavior requires a certain amount of bravery. 

If you are unsure about confronting bad behavior but would like to act out in the future, 6 tips from psychologist Catherine Sanderson can help.

LinkedIn’s defense tools

Women can do more than just inform the sender that their message was inappropriate in response. They frequently simply alert the LinkedIn team that something is wrong. 

LinkedIn allows you to report users for a variety of reasons:

You can report a compromised account.

You can also notify LinkedIn administrators about inaccurate information on another member’s profile.

LinkedIn states that it does not tolerate inappropriate activities or behaviors such as spam, harassment, scams, or misinformation. Their Professional Community Policies outline permitted and prohibited activities and give instructions on reporting spam, offensive, or inappropriate content.

According to this document, LinkedIn does not allow unwanted expressions of attraction, desire, requests for romantic relationships, marriage proposals, sexual advances, innuendo, or lewd remarks

So, all of those actions should be reported in the way explained in the LinkedIn guide.

In fact, about 80% of women who use LinkedIn have reported encounters with flirtatious users. A full 43% did it multiple times.

The hidden consequences: deterring female talents

Unwanted messages cause more harm than just wasting the time of female professionals and evoking negative emotions. They also discourage women from using LinkedIn.

Nearly 74% of LinkedIn female users have at least once dialed down their activity on the platform due to others’ improper conduct.

LinkedIn has already demonstrated gender disproportion. This platform is slightly dominated by men, with 56.3% of male users, according to Statista. Add to that the fact that 72% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find new talent. 

It may be an overly bold assumption, but I am wondering: What if inappropriate messages to LinkedIn female users limit their career opportunities and narrow the LinkedIn recruiters’ poll?

What do women expect LinkedIn to do?

Of course, LinkedIn established Professional Community Policies. But the circumstances call for further steps.

What actions do women expect LinkedIn to take?

  • increase awareness and education about appropriate behavior (39%)
  • implement stricter guidelines and policies (26%)
  • ban users who repeatedly send inappropriate messages (22%)

Clearly, prevention is the key here. Women are much less likely to want LinkedIn to ban users who send those bothersome messages. Most of them want the platform to raise awareness of the issue, promote good behavior, and educate people.

This strategy may help prevent similar behavior in the future.

Final thoughts

The Internet allowed people to network outside of conferences and in-person events. Thanks to LinkedIn, we can now contact any specialist in the world at any time. It is a fantastic opportunity for all professionals who want to network with well-respected experts – isn’t it? 

But, online users experience a greater sense of anonymity, which is a drawback. It could increase the likelihood of abuses like the one previously discussed in the context of offensive messages.

Creating a networking society that is secure, inclusive, and provides opportunities to develop is our shared responsibility. We can only hope that discussing such topics will help to prevent future events and strengthen community relations.

This is a guest post by Karolina Turowska, a writer and travel enthusiast at PhotoAiD. When it comes to writing, she loves bringing dry facts to life. When it comes to traveling, she just loves bikes.

by in HR Content