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Keys and Gray – Sexism in the workplace returns...

Keys and Gray – Sexism in the workplace returns...


On reflection, hearing some fairly unreconstructed views from a pair of middle-aged men who’ve spent their lives in football isn’t all that surprising. But what about Keys’ claim that it goes on everywhere, not just in sport?

HR specialist Dr. Patrick White believes that it all depends on the sort of industry a company is involved in. “This type of ‘banter’ is very common in some workplaces,” says White. “It’s particularly prevalent in blue collar workplaces, where there may not be many women present. In white collar workplaces or in the professions where there is an abundance of women, they are often seen as equals and hence the use of sexist language is much less.”

The key word there though, is “often”, and you don’t have to look too far to find examples of sexism in the white collar professions either.

“I work in banking,” says Rachel, 26, from London, “and it’s a complete boys club. There are always emails flying around where the lads are discussing the girls in the office and who they think is fit. But if you complain about it, you just look like a spoilsport, or the office bitch.”

It’s a common complaint, concedes White. “If women are present they tend to want to fit in at work,” he says. “They might not outwardly react to it so they can be seen as “one of the boys, even if they feel offended.”

However, Maggie Berry, managing director of Women In Technology, believes that things are gradually moving forward, if a little slowly.

“I would say that sexist ‘banter’ is relatively common,” says Berry, “but it's certainly less than when I started working in 1997. You've only got to watch an episode of Mad Men to see how much things have changed in the last 40 years.”

That said, she acknowledges that things can still go too far, and encourages women to speak up rather than fit in. “I think it's important to set boundaries,” she says. “If comments make you feel uncomfortable, let the person know or let them know they're out of line.”

So is this a serious problem? Or are we jumping on our moral high-horses a mite quickly…


George Wales
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