Report shows we are long overdue serious measures to stamp out sexist attitudes in workplaces and schools
The Women’s Equality Party demanded urgent action on Wednesday to end sexist attitudes that still dominate workplaces and schools after an excoriating report showed how little progress has been in made in decades. A new report published today by the TUC and Everyday Sexism Project shows that more than half (52%) of all women, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of women aged 18-24 years old have experienced sexual harassment at work.
“The ‘Still just a bit of banter’ report shows clearly and startlingly the extent to which young women must still run a gauntlet of sexist attitudes when they start work,” said WEP leader Sophie Walker. “The situation is disgraceful. More than forty years after the Sex Discrimination Act was passed to tackle sexism in the workplace, not nearly enough has changed.”
The report detailed the range of sexual harassment incidences, from suggestive remarks to circulating pornography or demands for sexual favours. In the vast majority of cases (88%) the perpetrator was male, and nearly one in five (17%) women reported that it was their line manager, or someone with direct authority over them. Four out of five women who experienced harassment chose not to report it.
“While we are pleased this this report is drawing attention to the scourge of sexual harassment – which still holds far too many women back from fulfilling their potential at work – we are appalled by the scale of the problem it reveals,” Walker continued.
“The Women’s Equality Party‘s high profile #WEcount campaign earlier this year revealed a spectrum of sexist behaviour that contributes to the growing and yet still largely overlooked problem of the harassment and assault of women on Britain’s streets. Our #WEcount campaign called on women to mark on an interactive map where they had been catcalled, groped, harassed or assaulted, and the response was huge.”
WEP are calling on Theresa May to make sex and relationships education – taught by specialist teachers – compulsory in all primary and secondary schools. “This is one of the six commitments that form our #100daysofMay campaign, launched when Theresa May took office,” said Walker. “There has been much talk about the difference a female Prime Minister can make, in terms of understanding women’s experiences in Britain. Our party – which right now is the only one with a clear set of policies to prioritise tackling harassment – urges Theresa May to end harassment of women by a zero tolerance approach to current incidents and also by teaching young people to stop it happening, by learning about consent and respect.
Walker also called for a major overhaul of workplace culture. “The report shows that 80% of women did not report their harassment, which is a shocking statistic,” she said. “Having more women in senior leadership roles would help tackle this reluctance to report – as would new laws supporting equal parenting and caregiving, stronger and better-enforced anti-discrimination action and better enforcement of employer transparency.”
She welcomed the recommendations made by the report’s authors on removing employment tribunal fees, giving tribunals more power to force change, and reinstating elements of the Equality Act to better protect against harassment.
“The Women’s Equality Party have a clear set of plans to tackle the causes as well as the consequences of sexual harassment,” she said. “We are the only political party to make protecting women from harassment a priority. Until we tackle sexual harassment in the workplace our society and our economy will suffer.”
Published August 10, 2016