Friday 23 March 2018

Incidents of sexual harassment towards women in football doubled, survey finds

90% of women questioned believe more can be done to combat sexism Photo: Getty
90% of women questioned believe more can be done to combat sexism Photo: Getty

Incidents of sexual harassment towards women working in football have doubled in the last two years, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

Almost half the women questioned by Women in Football (WIF) have also experienced sexism in the workplace, with one branding the problem "endemic" and another claiming it occurs daily.

One woman said she left her job after being subjected to sexist taunts from colleagues and sent sexually provocative texts on a match day.

WIF, who surveyed more than 500 females working in the sport, has called on the game's governing bodies to act in a bid to "bring football into the 21st century".

Anna Kessel, chair of WIF, said: "The fact that over half of the women have witnessed sexism in the industry and just under half have experienced it is shocking.

"I can't think of any other industries in which it would be so widespread so it proves football has a problem and desperately needs to catch up.

"What is most concerning is that sexual harassment has doubled. It may be that more women are now speaking out about it, but either way it's very grave and shows that sexism is still ingrained in football."

The survey, conducted by Professor Sue Bridgewater and published on International Women's Day, found that just 10 per cent of females working in the sport believe enough is being done to improve their opportunities in the industry.

Sixty one per cent have witnessed sexism in the workplace, compared to 66 per cent in a 2014 survey. Forty-six per cent said they had experienced it themselves - although that figure is down from 57 per cent.

Almost a quarter - 24 per cent - had suffered bullying with 15 per cent claiming to be victims of sexual harassment, more than double the seven per cent found in 2014.

Incidents where women have actually been barred from certain places on the basis of their gender have nearly trebled - rising from seven per cent to 19 per cent.

Moreover almost a quarter - 23 per cent - feel their appearance is judged over their ability to do their job, while 15 per cent believe they are expected to look glamorous at work.

Respondents were asked anonymously for their experiences with one claiming: "Sexist incidents occur daily due to the culture of the environment we work in."

Another revealed: "There are far too many sexist incidents to describe. It's endemic," while a third said: "I've been subjected to sexist taunts from colleagues, sent sexually provocative texts on a matchday, and not supported in any way by my superiors when I complained.

"The situation became so unbearable I had to leave my job."

Heather Rabbatts, Football Association board member and chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board, said: "We still have a considerable way to go before there is a level playing field for women working across the game.

"Surveys like this are a good indicator of where the industry is on some of these critical issues and incidents of bullying, sexism and sexual harassment, must be dealt with whenever and wherever they arise in the game."

Press Association

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