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87% of British women experience sexism at work, says Stylist study


Ahead of our first-ever Stylist Live event, at which we will be discussing issues surrounding sexism, modern femininity and how to get ahead at work, we conducted a survey of 2,000 British women, to find out their experiences of sexism within the workplace.

The shocking results of our study reveal that there is still a long way to go before women are treated equally in the office.

According to the results, a whopping 87% of women believe that they and their female contemporaries are being passed-over for promotions, on account of their gender.

The results come as Jeremy Corbyn is attacked over his appointments to the shadow cabinet, Sienna Miller reveals she quit a play over unequal pay to her male co-star and barrister, and JK Rowling hit back at sexist remarks she received on Twitter.

The survey quizzed women on examples of sexism they’ve personally encountered at work. At the top of the list is ‘being expected to make tea’ which 43% felt they were, followed closely by enduring sexual innuendo, which 38% said they experienced. 33% of participants said they regularly received comments about their appearance. 

sexism in the workplace

38% of women reported enduring sexual innuendo at work

Also on the list was being accused of being pre-menstrual or menstrual, which 29% of women reported to have experienced, as well as being presumed less competent than male colleagues, which 27% experienced. Almost a quarter of participants claim to have been joked about in a sexist manner, in the workplace.

Unsurprisingly, the gender pay gap, an ongoing barrier in the road to sexual equality, arose in the study, with 19% of women reporting to have personally experienced being paid less than their male equivalents. One in six women felt they had been overlooked for a promotion on account of their gender.

Interestingly, in line with Sheryl Sandberg’s argument in her best-selling book, Lean In, 52% of participants felt that they were less inclined to ask for a pay rise or promotion, believing themselves to be more cautious than their male colleagues when it came to negotiating these progressions.

See the results of the study below:

Top 10 sexist scenarios women have experienced at work:

1) Being expected to make tea – 43%

2) Enduring sexual innuendos - 38%

3) Having appearance/clothing commented on - 33%

4) Being accused of being pre-menstrual/menstrual - 29%

5) Being presumed less competent than male colleagues - 27%

6) Been jokes about in a sexist way - 24%

7) Being paid less than male colleagues for the same job (s) - 19%

8) Being presumed to be more junior than they are - 18%

9) Being spoken over/patronised in meetings - 18%

10) Being expected to keep the office tidy - 17%


43% of women say their male colleagues expect them to make the tea

Lisa Smosarski, Stylist’s editor-in-chief, says:

“We simply should not be finding that women today feel their gender has any bearing on their career progression."

"While impressive work is being done on gender equality, events like Stylist Live are ensuring women have a forum to debate and scrutinize their situation, work towards improvements and force their workplaces to keep an open dialogue on these issues."

"At Stylist Live we will have industry experts providing valuable career advice in sessions including How To Get A Pay Rise by the Chartered Management Institute, How To Speak In Public With Confidence by Rada and Confidence-Boosting Tips To Get You To The Top by Her Invitation.” 

If you, or your colleagues are experiencing sexism in the workplace, please email us at stories@stylist.co.uk - we would love to hear from you. 

To get a ticket for Stylist Live, our four-day festival of cocktails, culture, catwalks and conversation hosted by Edith Bowman and Dawn O’Porter on Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 October 2015, where we will be discussing these issues, please go here.



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