While more than a third (37%) of women bosses say there is sexism in their workplace, only 22% of their male counterparts agree, according to new research by the charity Young Women’s Trust (YWT).

The survey also found that one in 10 male respondents (9%) say that men are better suited to management jobs than women (compared to 3% of women).

YWT communications and campaigns director Joe Levenson said: “Far too many women are still having to battle sexism to progress at work. In some cases, sexist attitudes shut women out of the workplace altogether. Many employers say they are aware of this. Yet too few are doing anything to end it”.

He highlighted that 18% of employers responded to the survey saying it is “harder for women to progress in my organisation than men”, rising to 27% among women. Nearly a third (29%) of employers agree that sexist behaviour still exists in their organisation.

The figures show very little change on last year’s results, despite moves to improve women’s equality such as gender pay gap reporting.

“From patronising remarks to sexual harassment and gender discrimination, sexist cultures only serve to hold women back”, Mr Levenson said. “This perpetuates gender pay gaps and disadvantages employers by limiting their organisations’ talent pools.”

Unsurprisingly, he continued, women managers are more aware of it than men — no doubt because they too experience discrimination.

Stopping violence and harassment at work

Meanwhile, the UK’s largest union is calling on governments and employers from across the world to join with workers and agree an International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention and recommendation on stopping violence and harassment in the world of work.

Unite pointed out that at present there is no international law that sets a baseline for taking action to eradicate violence and harassment, including gender-based violence, in the world of work.

However, discussions on an ILO convention are set to enter their final stages this month.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director Kate Palmer

This demonstrates the importance of taking workplace sexism seriously in the workplace and the potential reputational consequences for employers who attempt to overlook it.

This can be a difficult issue for employers to tackle, particularly if dated stereotypes surrounding working women have become an embedded part of their company’s culture, and it is therefore important that they are prepared to make key changes in order to ensure that female employees are receiving the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

The issue of workplace equality continues to receive strong scrutiny and I would caution employers to remember that not only can gender discrimination result in a company receiving unlimited fines from an employment tribunal, it can also cause employees to become disillusioned in their role and potentially seek employment elsewhere.

Last reviewed 1 July 2019