Gender-based harassment

The University takes seriously the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. This is part of our commitment to providing a safe, inclusive and equitable environment for everyone who studies and works here.

What is gender-based harassment?

Gender based harassment describes a wide range of behaviour based on gender stereotypes, sexual orientation or gender identity. Such behaviour includes verbal, physical, visual or online actions which demean, belittle or threaten a person. It does not necessarily suggest sexual interest or intent; it is often about making a person feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, inferior or vulnerable.

What does gender-based harassment look like?

Below are some examples of gender-based harassment applicable to staff and students.

  •  A senior male staff member is in the habit of telling a junior female colleague how great she looks, always in front of others. She told him his comments make her feel uncomfortable, but he just laughed and said she should ‘learn to take a compliment’.
  • A male staff member never joins in his male colleagues’ conversations that include explicitly sexual and sexist themes. His colleagues mock him for being ‘too PC’ and not ‘having a laugh’.
  • The only two female students in a tutorial group notice the male students in the group often interrupt or talk over them. When they speak privately to the tutor about this he tells them they are imagining it. At the next tutorial he mentions the complaint to the whole group, making a joke of it.

  •  A female staff member, the only woman on a team dominated by senior male colleagues, is regularly asked to make coffee by some of the team members.     
  • A male staff member regularly displays cartoons in his work area which degrade women. Despite being asked by women in the office to remove them he continues to display them, arguing it is ‘his space’.
  • Colleagues of a transgender woman refuse to use her new name and her preferred pronouns. Some other women tell her they ‘don’t want a man in the ladies toilet’ and insist she uses the unisex toilet that is located on a different floor to their office.
  • A woman in a senior role is approached by a junior member of her team who is being teased by his colleagues for being gay. She dismisses his complaints, telling him it is light-hearted banter that doesn’t mean anything, and he should ‘man up.’

  • A male student goes to see his tutor to complain about the essay grade she has given him. After she explains why it is a valid mark, he threatens to report her to the course convenor for being ‘incompetent’ and says to her that ‘girls shouldn’t be teaching on this course in the first place’.

Responding to gender-based harassment

The University has a number of resources and steps to support staff who experience, witness or are concerned about gender-based harassment.