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A Rant About Sexism in Education

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Label’s Head of Social Media, Leah Langley, shares the shocking truths behind sexism in education.

Sexism is a prevalent issue throughout the whole of today’s society, but a ground-breaking 2019/20 report by UK Feminista and the National Education Union has revealed the shocking statistics surrounding sexism in education.

Sexual harassment is rife in schools and appears to be heavily gendered with boys targeting girls. 37% of females at mixed-sex schools expressed that they experienced some form of sexual harassment whilst at school compared to 6% of males. 24% of female students have been subjected to unwanted physical touching of a sexual nature. 36% of teachers in mixed-sex secondary schools are said to witness sexual harassment on at least a weekly basis.

Sexist language is another horrific issue within educational institutions. 60% of females and 37% of males within mixed-sex sixth forms either experienced or witness the use of sexist language whilst in schools. 64% of teachers in mixed-sex secondary schools hear sexist language on a weekly basis, and a stark 29% expressed that it is a daily occurrence in their schools.

Sexist stereotypes and behaviour are perhaps the direst in schools, with 36% of females in mixed-sex schools expressing that they are treated differently on account of their gender compared to 15% of males. ¼ of teachers witness gender stereotyping and discrimination on a daily basis and a further ¼ witness it on a weekly basis in secondary schools. 34% of primary school teachers witness gender stereotyping on at least a weekly basis.

The prevalence of sexism in the education system is shocking and yet it has been normalised and so is very rarely reported. Only 14% of sexual harassment cases are reported to a teacher whilst only 6% of those cases in which sexist language is experienced, or witnessed, are reported. 22% of teachers expressed that they would not feel confident tackling a sexist incident if they experienced, or witnessed, it in school.

Schools are ill-prepared and vastly ill-equipped to deal with the huge issue that seems to be plaguing the education system. Only 22% of females feel that their schools take sexism seriously enough. Alarmingly 78% of secondary school students and 64% of secondary school teachers are unsure/not aware of any existing policies and practices within their schools to prevent sexism.

With 81% of women and over half of men detailing that they go on to experience sexism in the workplace, it seems illogical that the issue isn’t being dealt with sooner. The lack of reporting outside of charities/organisations specifically trying to highlight the issue means that the severity is widely unknown. In a society that is already tough to navigate it seems deplorable that such grave statistics go unspoken on a bigger scale. More needs to be done to significantly reduce the prevalence of such a detrimental issue within the education system, and it needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Featured image by Frankie Stevens.

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Label Features Editor 19-20

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