Everyday Sexism in NSWAS Webinar 1

  • McFarlane, A. (Speaker)
  • Lauren Lowrie (Speaker)
  • Joe Ibrahim (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventPublic lecture/debate/seminar/presentationAcademic


So what is everyday sexism? It occurs as the name suggests, in both the formal and casual interactions between people. It happens in everyday life and frequently in workplaces. They are sometimes the little things, said or done in a moment, that play into stereotypes of gender. Perceived as too small to make a fuss about, we let it pass. We don’t want to rock the boat.
At other times there is no question that it oversteps the mark. In our contexts, everyday sexism also comes into play at critical decision points affecting the progress and careers of women and men, influencing who to appoint, reward or promote.
Everyday sexism is frequently invisible, and often accepted. It is hard to speak up when it occurs and it continues unchecked. This can lead to escalating behaviour. In examining this topic we have learned that context, culture, generational differences and norms are factors that underpin everyday sexism.
The aim of the everyday sexism panel is to openly discuss what everyday sexism is and demonstrate the positive behaviours that can change the day to day experience for everyone. It requires staff and management to openly and honestly reflect on our own biases and actively address them in every interaction and decision we make.
Everyday sexism is not a men v women issue. It’s a people v prejudice issue.
Ask a woman you know to tell you about sexism during their daily life. They will talk about street harassment, sexist comments or workplace bias. Most women can identify experiences with sexism quite easily because it happens so often. Everyday sexism is not subjective. It is behaviour that is taught to us from childhood but that doesn’t make it right. We need men to stand beside us not against us. We need to do this together.
Now ask yourself what you do every day to protect yourself from assault or harassment. If you are a man ask that same question of a women.
We know that women experience everyday sexism much more than men but men go through it too. We are conditioned to think it is normal. Some examples of everyday sexism are: Focusing attention and praise on someone’s appearance rather than their attributes as a person. Believing chivalry is a requirement of men (the sinking ship theory). Believing that women should not do things for themselves, such as manage money, mow the lawn or be a tradey. Assuming that a man doesn’t want to look after his children. Casting women as weak and in need of male protection. Casting men as cold and telling them emotions are weakness.
Everyday sexism can sound and look like jokes, off-handed comments, and exclusion of people from social situations on the basis of gender. One of the obstacles to having an open conversation about this is the tendency to downplay things as not “truly” or “really” sexist. These obstacles can embolden or encourage prejudice.
Joking about matters of gender or making sexist remarks, even if that’s not your intention, can lead others to form unfavourable impressions of themselves. It causes damage to the whole social structure. You may think it’s a joke but when someone goes through these same events many times a day it is extremely damaging.
A change in social attitudes is necessary for combatting everyday sexism, and everyone can contribute to this change through speaking up when they encounter it. Be an active bystander and change the behaviour by identifying it.
Period09 Jun 2022
Event typeOnline presentation
Degree of RecognitionLocal