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Imperial College London Vows To Tackle Sexism After Report Reveals Bullying And Discrimination On Campus

Spectators humiliated women's rugby team at a Varsity match.

13/12/2016 11:49

Imperial College London has vowed to tackle sexism on campus after a damning report into gender equality found evidence of bullying, discrimination and “ingrained misogyny”. 

Researchers from the investigation, launched in 2015, said the top university is “profoundly gendered, classed and raced”, with many women reporting they feel “silenced”. 

The report was commissioned after a number of female rugby players said they had been victims of sexism during a Varsity tournament at Twickenham.

Not only did spectators hurl drunken abuse at the team, the women said, but coaches back to the university left after the mens Varsity match.

As a result, the female team played to an empty stadium and were forced to find their own way home. When discussing how to get back to Imperial, one member of university sports staff allegedly said: “I don’t care how those fat girls get home.”

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Researchers found evidence of bullying and ingrained misogyny at Imperial College London

The year-long review, led by Dr Alison Phipps from the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Sussex, asked 249 students and academics about the university’s culture. 

According to the research, bullying and discrimination towards staff and students is common, with a focus on excellence leading to a “pressurised and competitive environment”. 

“Bullying is also intersected with categories such as class, gender (and gender identity), race, disability and sexual orientation,” the report reads. 

“The researchers reported that many of the participants linked it with the ‘elite’ white masculinity of the majority population, although a few examples of unacceptable behaviour by female staff and students were also cited.” 

One interviewee also commented that the “ingrained misogyny” at Imperial was “so deep that it had become normal”. 

According to UCAS figures, Imperial has 2.3 times as many male as female undergraduates - one of the highest proportions of any British university. 

Imperial is the first UK university to commission such a report. 

Phipps and her team have recommended that the university appoints a Vice-Provost for equality and wellbeing, as well as adding staff and student representatives to Imperial’s management board. 

Provost Professor James Stirling, said: “If only a single person within our community experiences harassment, or is unable to access the support they need – that is one person too many. These findings remind us that we cannot stand still. We must do better.

“I know that some of this may not be easy, but I am confident that by working together we can create as supportive and inclusive an environment as we can, since that is what all our staff and students deserve.” 

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