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Sexual harassment rife in UK universities, warns staff union

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One in 10 college staff experienced sexual violence, with women, disabled, LGBTQ+ and minority ethnic workers more at risk

Sexual harassment is “endemic” in universities and colleges, with one in 10 staff members saying they have experienced sexual violence in the past five years, according to a report.

Women were nearly two-and-a-half times as likely to experience sexual violence as men, while staff on insecure contracts, those with disabilities, LGBTQ+, or black, Asian or minority ethnic were also at greater risk, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 staff members by the University and College Union.

Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said there were “cultural problems” within universities stemming from a reluctance to discipline perpetrators for fear of damaging institutional reputation, especially where these are star academics who bring in large amounts of research funding.

This is compounded by the prevalence of insecure contracts which make staff hesitant to report unwelcome behaviours due to anxieties about jeopardising their careers, she said.

Although she acknowledged that sexual violence in the workplace wasn’t unique to the education sector, Grady said there had been particular “failures to acknowledge the prevalence of it and the scale of the problem”.“Survivors say managers are often dismissive towards those reporting sexual […]

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