I work as a teacher in a college in England. While I’ve worked in secondary education for 20 years, I can’t say I’ve experienced sexism in such an obvious and consistent manner as in the place I work now. Here are some personal experiences.
Not long after I’d started, a senior manager snuck up behind me at the photocopier during a busy interview evening in a packed library. As I waited for the machine to finish my print job, he snuck up and stroked my back. I was so startled, I just managed to keep my composure (there were prospective new students and parents around).I blurted out that I’d nearly screamed to which he replied he liked to make women scream with a grin on his face. I walked off mumbling something about he’d better be careful as I might hit someone pulling a stunt like that again. I reported it to HR, who passed it on to assistant principal. They told me that the man in question had mistaken me for his friend (I’m about 8 cm taller) and that he was mortified. Next time I saw the guy, he glared at me with undisguised anger… So, it’s obviously a load of BE and he’s been let off the hook. Fortunately, I have little to do with him, but have since heard other rumours about him and inappropriate behaviour with female students. He was also the guy who in a staff briefing shortly before he sexually harassed me, referred to another female colleague as “the beautiful [name]” . Then there’s the PE teacher who makes a rehearsed joke during a zoom briefing how the rugby team had won a competition, but it was a shame that it was “just the girl’s team”. While there were horrified faces across the zoom call, I doubt much will be done about this. And finally there’s my Head of Faculty who patronizes every female colleague and forgets to address them by name in emails, while using male colleague’s names. Male colleagues who make a mistake hear nothing, while a female colleague making same mistake gets sent an unpleasant, patronising email telling off. In a meeting, I made a suggestion, only to be ignored. Then a male colleague makes the same suggestion and he is praised by the Head.Fortunately, my male colleague is a decent guy, who pointed out that I’d made the suggestion first. These are just some instances and I don’t think much will change while we have more men with the same first name in senior and middle management than women and ethnic minorities in leadership positions. I’m saddened by these experiences (all cover the previous 12 months), because if this is what I’m experiencing, what must our young students of all genders be experiencing?