The men at the centre of the sexist email storm at Dublin accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in October remain suspended and will learn their fate in the new year.

A spokeswoman for PwC confirmed the company's internal probe into the matter has not yet concluded after five weeks' investigation.

"We are taking this matter extremely seriously. Our investigation is ongoing and we have no further comment at this point in time," she told the Sunday Tribune.

The 13 young women at the centre of the global scandal, whose photographs were circulated by email asking recipients to rate them on their looks, officially began working at PwC on 12 November, following three weeks' training.

PwC insiders indicated the women do not intend to take legal action against their employers on the basis of sexual harassment and are instead more focused on getting on with their new jobs.

On the afternoon of 26 October, Stephen Tully of PwC sent an email to 14 male colleagues within the firm.

"This would be my shortlist for the top 10," the email stated. An hour later, colleague Paul G Cummins replied: "Great work, have reservations about the last one getting in."

The next morning, David McDonough at PwC forwarded the email to three male colleagues in the firm as well as to men in CBRE estate agents, Mercer consulting group and HSOC accountants. This email included a crude term – "clunge" – to describe the women. After this, the email spread around Dublin and later the world.

At the height of the controversy in mid-November, a senior partner with the firm, Ronan Murphy, sent an email to its Irish clients and alumni emphasising that the firm was taking the issue "extremely seriously".

Michelle Ní Longáin, a partner at law firm Byrne Wallace in Dublin and an expert in employment law, previously told this newspaper that the content of the email falls within the definition of sexual harassment under the Employment Acts.

However, she added that because PwC acted promptly to address the issue when it emerged, and because of the fact that the company most likely has existing policies prohibiting harassment of employees, it would have a good defence should any of the women take cases to the Equality Tribunal.