A third (32%) of women teachers believe there is a negative culture within their school which acts a deterrent to women, a women’s conference organised by the NASUWT, the  teachers’ union, has heard.

Sexist behaviour, combined with crushing workloads and attacks on their pay and working conditions, are driving women out of the profession.

Hundreds of women teachers from across the country gathered in Birmingham today (6 October) for the NASUWT’s annual Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference to discuss the challenges they face and to participate in professional development workshops.

A real-time electronic poll of attendees at the Conference found that:

·        Two in 10 have experienced or witnessed unwelcome and inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, or experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or bullying;

·         One in 10 have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or bullying;

·         One in twenty have experienced or witnessed threatening or other hostile sexual behaviour;

·         10% have experienced most or all of the above.

Over half (55%) of teachers affected did not report these issues because they did not think it would be dealt with satisfactorily or felt unable to report it. Of the 45% who did report it, only 16% were happy with how it was dealt with.

When asked about the barriers to women in progressing in teaching, 32% said childcare or carer’s responsibilities; 34% said being overlooked by senior management; and 8% said discrimination on the grounds of their gender.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The unacceptable practices of too many employers are creating a culture where discrimination, inequality and sexism are flourishing in the workplace. 

“As deeply disturbing as the incidence of sexual harassment is the failure of employers to act when it is reported. 

“Women teachers have a right to work in a safe environment, free from this unacceptable behaviour.

“The NASUWT will have no hesitation in using all appropriate means including legal and industrial action in workplaces where sexual harassment and bullying occur and employers fail to operate a zero-tolerance approach.

“Women make up the majority of the teaching profession, yet it is clear that too many are still facing unacceptable barriers and inequality in terms of their careers and professionalism.

“The number of women saying they feel pessimistic about their future in the profession and the number identifying numerous barriers preventing women from progressing in their career, should make Government and employers hang their heads in shame.

“The current teacher supply crisis is because teachers are undervalued , underpaid and under unacceptable pressure.”

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