TUC: Half of women working in football have experienced sexism at work

9 Nov 2016 01:44 PM

As recent polling showed that nearly half (46%) of women working in football have experienced sexism in the workplace, the TUC and Women in Football are joining forces this evening (Wednesday) to tackle sexism and sexual harassment in the sport and beyond.

The Women in Football research found:

  • The number of women working in football who have suffered sexual harassment at work has doubled in the last two years (up to 15% from 7%).
  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) of women in football have witnessed sexism at work.
  • Almost a quarter (23%) working within the industry feel their appearance is judged over their ability to do their job.
  • Nine in 10 (90%) of women in football still believe that more could be done to increase the chances of women not only breaking into the sport but getting further opportunities once in it.

These challenges for women working within the sport will be addressed at the evening seminar at the TUC’s headquarters in London.

It will kick off with a keynote speech from TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, followed by a discussion chaired by Women in Football board member Jo Tongue.

The panel will include Prospect Deputy General Secretary Sue Ferns, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Head of Equalities Simone Pound, author of The Glass Wall Sue Unerman, former Everton FC, Liverpool FC and England goalkeeper Rachel Brown Finnis, and League Managers Association (LMA) Chief Executive Richard Bevan.

There will also be a free legal surgery run by Thompsons during the evening.

Huge Arsenal fan Frances O’Grady said: ”We need to do so much more to combat the sexism that disfigures football.

“Women remain under-represented in football’s key institutions, boards and committees, in the sport’s grassroots and in the media.

“We need to see women breaking through football’s glass ceiling and a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment in any workplace – with football taking the striking role.

“And the government could help by abolishing employment tribunal fees – nobody who has been harassed or discriminated against should have to pay up to £1,200 to enforce their basic rights at work.”

A Women in Football spokesperson said: “Our research shows worrying stats around sexism and sexual harassment in football. We are looking forward to coming together with the TUC, Prospect, the PFA and the LMA to discuss how we help women overcome the challenges faced working in the game.

“Our network aims to help women obliterate the glass ceiling – whilst also educating those who help keep the ceiling in place. We aim to improve women’s representation at all levels of the game by challenging discrimination and lobbying for change.

“We support the TUC in its quest to abolish employment tribunal fees and hope events like tonight will encourage more people to report inequality and support equality – and help show them how to do so.”

Anonymous quotes from the survey

  • “Sexist incidents occur daily due to the culture of the environment we work in.”
  • “There are far too many sexist incidents to describe. It’s endemic.”
  • “A teenage female referee who had to travel to games with an older male official was sexually harassed, with inappropriate touching, on the journey. He told her that there was no point complaining because she was so young no one would believe her. The referee was afraid for her career.”
  • “I’ve been subjected to sexist taunts from colleagues, sent sexually provocative texts on a match day, and not supported in any way by my superiors when I complained. The situation became so unbearable I had to leave my job.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • The TUC and Women in Football ‘Sexism in the Workplace’ event is from 5:30-8pm on Wednesday 9 November, at the TUC’s headquarters in London (Congress House, 23-28 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS).
  • The Women in Football survey was originally published in March and was of 505 women coaches, match officials, administrators representing clubs in all four professional divisions in England, Scottish and Welsh clubs, players, doctors, physios, lawyers and agents, football media, football PR and sponsorship, members of the Football Association (FA), county FAs, Premier League, Football League, non-league and not-for-profit organisations. It is available at www.womeninfootball.co.uk/assets/genericfiles/Women%20in%20Football%20Survey%20Analysis.pdf
  • A TUC report published in August found that nearly two in three young women had experienced sexual harassment at work: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/SexualHarassmentreport2016.pdf
  • The TUC is calling on the government to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace and adopt a series of measures including:
    • abolishing employment tribunal fees to give more people access to justice – it currently costs £1,200 to take a case to court.
    • reinstating provisions in the Equality Act which placed a duty on employers to protect workers from third party harassment. Reintroducing a duty on employers to act where an employee is being harassed by a third party (like a client or customer) would be an important step in tackling workplace sexual harassment.
    • giving employment tribunals the power to make wider recommendations – employment tribunals used to have the power to make recommendations for the benefit of the wider workforce, not just the individual claimant, in relation to discrimination claims. In workplaces where a culture of harassment has been allowed to flourish or where organisations have failed to respond adequately to complaints of harassment, the power to make wider recommendations would be of great benefit.
    • giving union equality reps full recognition and facility time.
    • extending the full range of statutory employment rights to all workers, regardless of employment status or type of contract, to ensure that women on zero-hours contracts or agency workers are protected in the workplace.

The TUC has also wants employers to take the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace seriously and to ensure robust policies and training are in place to protect staff.

  • All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
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