1 in 5 students witness sexism in lectures


Euan McTear

A survey by the Isabella Elder Feminist Society has revealed that one fifth of students have seen incidents of sexism in Glasgow University lecture halls, while incidents of sexism in tutorials has also been reported.

The survey was completed by 316 people – one third of whom were male – and asked respondents whether they had seen or experienced sexism in lectures, tutorials, the library, the gym, or either of the student unions. There was also an option to record other instances of sexism on campus.

The most common place that sexism had been witnessed was at Glasgow University Union (GUU) with 36% of respondents affirming this. After allegations that two female guest debaters were harassed in the Union last March, an enquiry was carried out and the Board of Management has outlined several ways in which the Union aims to eradicate sexism and become more inclusive. The recent sexism survey investigated whether there had been a change in attitudes to sexist behaviour across campus since the incident, asking if those who had experienced sexism on campus had experienced it pre or post March 2013. 53% revealed their experience came after that month.

The Queen Margaret Union (QMU) had also been the scene of sexist incidents with 15% of those surveyed having witnessed an incident there, but more respondents claimed to have encountered sexism in the library, the gym or tutorials. 20% of participants reported witnessing an incident at the library, and 18% reporting incidents at the gym and during tutorials.

The survey also looked to find information on what the response to sexist behaviour on campus had been and 50% of those who had seen sexism on campus claimed that there had been no reaction to the incidents. In only 5% of cases was there widespread reaction, while in 24% of cases there was a minor reaction to the sexist behaviour.

The survey was criticised at the Isabella Elder FemSoc AGM, however, with members noting that there was not an option for participants to say they had never witnessed sexism. The survey may not represent a campus-wide perspective due to the limited number of respondents.  It was also noted that the GUU had shared the survey while the QMU had not.