An award-winning female barrister has taken to Twitter in protest, after her LinkedIn picture became the subject of sexist comments from a male lawyer.
Charlotte Proudman, an award-winning barrister at Chambers of Michael Mansfield Q.C., was shocked by a message she received after connecting with Alexander Carter-Silk, a respected Commercial Solicitor and senior partner Brown Rudnick LLP, on professional networking site LinkedIn.
Carter-Silk, who has been practising law for over 25 years, sent Proudman, an inbox message titled ‘RE: PICTURE’.
The message read: “Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture !!!”
“You definitely win the prize for the best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.”
“Always interest to understant (sic) people’s skills and how we might work together.”
Proudman, who is currently working towards a doctorate in Law and Sociology at Cambridge University, researching legal policy to combat female genital mutilation (FGM), replied several hours later informing Carter-Silk that she was offended by his message.
“Alex, I find your message offensive. I am on Linked-in for business purposes, not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.”
“The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women. It silences women’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject.”
“Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.”
Proudman then an shared image of both messages on her Twitter account, publicly calling out Carter-Silk’s behaviour in a tweet that read: “How many women @LinkedIn are contacted re physical appearance rather than prof skills?”
Carter-Silk has released his own official response, explaining that his comments have been ‘misinterpreted’ and he was simply admiring the professional quality of Proudman’s picture.
“Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on LinkedIn, my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on LinkedIn which was unfortunately misinterpreted,” he says.
“Ms Proudman is clearly highly respected and I was pleased to receive her request to linkup and very happy to instruct her on matters which [are] relevant to her expertise, that remains the position.”
Despite receiving some criticism following her tweet, the barrister's post has encouraged many other women to share their own similar stories.
@CRProudman When I had the same I was told by someone who works at linked in,a female,& unofficially, I should think about changing my pic— anna wharton (@whartonswords) September 8, 2015
@CRProudman we're all too familiar with such sexist incidents but we are made to feel crazy when we stand up to it— Stella Tsantekidou (@Stsantek) September 8, 2015
Will endure misogynistic backlash that accompanies calling out sexism in hope it encourages at least 1 woman2feel she doesn't need 2 take it— Charlotte Proudman (@CRProudman) September 9, 2015
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Proudman says that she has no regrets about taking a stand, even it does have negative consequences on her legal career. She describes Carter-Silk's behaviour as 'disappointing'.
“It's very disappointing, there are serious professional misconduct issues, as a legal professional he is required to uphold the law, and that includes the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equality Act.”
“I'm on there for business purposes and I thought he may be interested in my skills and experience as opposed to my body. People are treating LinkedIn like Tinder, I've received many messages based on my physical appearance, but this one was from a senior partner.”
“The only way we're going to end sexism within our generation is if we name them publicly, if we call out sexism, and if there are consequences, so be it.
“I wouldn't want to be instructed by sexist solicitors.”
Top image: charlotteproudman.com