Theresa May has said women should not be treated as “objects” in the wake of sexual harassment allegations at the men-only dinner held by the Presidents Club.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday morning, the prime minister said she was “appalled” at the report published in the Financial Times.
However asked if she wanted to change any rules to tackle the problem, May said it was about changing “attitudes”.
David Meller, one of the organisers of the event, quit his job on the the Department for Education board following the FT report.
Conservative education minister Nadhim Zahawi has faced calls to resign after it was revealed he attended the fundraiser at the Dorchester Hotel.
During the event hostesses were made to parade in front of men and were groped and subjected to lewd comments.
Zahawi has claimed he left early and has said he will never attend a men-only event ever again.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, today defended his Tory colleague on Twitter.
May told Bloomberg: “I was frankly appalled when I read the report of this Presidents Club event. I thought that that sort of attitude of the objectification of women was something that was in the past. Sadly, what that event showed is that there is still a lot more work for us to do.
“I will continue to work, as I have done in my time in politics, to a point where we really can say women are respected and accepted and treated as equals.”
The prime minister did not agree that rules or laws needed to be changed to crack down on similar events.
“What we saw from this Presidents Club is this is about attitudes. It’s about saying that actually women are not objects just to be used by men. Actually we are equals, we have our own position, our own abilities and that should be respected,” she said.
Other government ministers have distanced themselves from the fundraiser.
Culture secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning that he was a feminist an it was “good” that the Presidents Culb had closed.
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, told MPs today she read the report with “absolute disgust” and added the club had been “effectively abusing young women”.
May is due to hold a private meeting with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon.
She will also deliver a speech designed to increase pressure on technology companies to tackle extremism online.