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Surveying everyday sexism

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meg Munn MP, working with the University of Sheffield, has launched a survey to explore the scale and impact of ‘everyday sexism’ in South Yorkshire. The campaign is being supported by leading women and men across the City, including Cllr Julie Dore, NHS Trust Chief Executive Sir Andrew Cash OBE and Master Cutler Tony Pedder OBE.

The phrase ‘everyday sexism’ is shorthand for a culture that demeans women and men by sexually objectifying them. At its worst, it represents serious sexual harassment, including groping and touching. Everyday sexism is broader than physical harassment; it also comes in the form of jokes, gestures and comments. This is symptomatic of a society that fails to value people as individuals, instead choosing to define someone by their gender alone.  

This way of seeing people is part of a culture that accepts the fact that on average every two weeks three women are killed by a current or former partner. Only last year a survey in Coventry showed that 61% of women had experienced sexual harassment in the past twelve months. This is an issue which needs to be given wider prominence in South Yorkshire.

The findings from the survey will be widely publicised in order to help bring about a change in culture. Changing attitudes is a first step in changing perceptions that it is acceptable to treat people in a different and less equal way on the basis of their sex.

Meg Munn, MP said:

Just like in many workplaces, I am occasionally brought up short by the attitudes of colleagues. A male colleague recently referred to me as “a very fit girl”. Although no doubt meant in jest, it is these sorts of comments which belittle, stereotype and push women into a place that can pave the way for some men to go beyond saying something, to serious and dangerous forms of sexual harassment.

I have no doubt that women and men across South Yorkshire have similar stories. It is time we stand up and show that this behaviour is not good enough.”

Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council said:

“It is really positive that men and women across South Yorkshire are prepared to not only admit that this is an issue, but to share their own experiences of everyday sexism. I was shocked to hear someone automatically refer to the Leader of Sheffield Council (i.e. me!) as a “he”.

This type of assumption goes to show the culture of disrespect towards women. In South Yorkshire we are determined to change this.”

Sir Andrew Cash OBE, Chief Executive Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“I am delighted to be supporting this survey on what is a truly serious issue regardless of whether the individual is male or female.  We all need to realise that making sexualised comments is offensive.  Everyone needs to be treated with respect bringing an end to demeaning remarks, sexualised comments and to sexual harassment’.”

Tony Pedder OBE, Master Cutler said:

 “As someone who has spent most of my working life in the manufacturing industry, I am keen to encourage more women into the sector. In South Yorkshire we are facing a skills shortage in manufacturing and engineering.   This survey is important as we need to determine whether sexism may be a factor in deterring men or women from choosing certain careers.”

The survey asks both men and women about their attitudes to and experiences of a range of different kinds of sexual harassment and where those experiences happened. People can also volunteer to be interviewed in more depth about their experiences.

To take part in the survey visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7W7RNGP


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