A third of female councillors have experienced workplace sexism, report finds

A survey of over 2,300 female councillors has revealed that a third have suffered from sexism in the workplace.
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The research, conducted by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society, concluded that almost two in five females have experienced sexism from within their own political party.

The year-long study also deduced that one in ten had experienced sexual harassment, and a third of women had heard sexist comments in the council chamber.

Forty-three per cent of women surveyed felt that they were held back by assumptions about their abilities due to them being female.

Fawcett Society’s chief executive Sam Smethers said: “We are sadly used to hearing about the misogyny our politicians experience from the public via social media, but this research shows that they are also experiencing it from within their own parties, including their male council colleagues.

“Women councillors from all major parties are reporting sexism and sexual harassment from within their own parties and from other councillors.

“This problem is not confined to one party and is commonplace across local government.”

The overall number of female council leaders is up by just three per cent in the last ten years. The report also noted that just a third of local councillors in England are women.

Claire Kobe, spokeswoman for the Local Government Association, commented on the findings: “Councils are doing everything they can to ensure gender equality.

“Sexism has no place in the council chamber and all incidents should be reported under the local code of conduct for councillors.

“It is important that local government reflects the communities it represents and the LGA is leading the Be A Councillor campaign, which includes a focus on encouraging women and under-represented groups to engage with and enter politics.”

A final report will be published in the summer, considering the question, “does local Government work for women?”.

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