A businesswoman has revealed how she was rejected by a potential client – because she might fall pregnant.
A businesswoman has revealed how she was rejected by a potential client - because she might fall pregnant.
Jane Whitham’s story is one of many examples of sexism, from both men and women, that have been shared with The Star online.
They come as a new survey which aims to explore the scale and impact so-called ‘everyday sexism’ – and stand against it – across South Yorkshire has been launched by a city MP.
PR firm director Jane, of Penistone, said she and her female business partner at Cream Consultancy were turned down by the boss of a ‘well known Sheffield company’ solely because of their gender.
The mum, aged 41, said: “When we were invited to go in and pitch to this client for a second time this man said to us ‘what happens if you get pregnant and go off?’.
“We said that wouldn’t happen, we are running a business and are serious about it. I said I was 40 and I don’t think it would be a problem, but he thought it was.
“They decided to go with another business, in his words, because they had more of a gender balance and there was the risk we might leave.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked.”
Everyday sexism, classed as any behaviour which demeans men and women by sexually objectifying them, can range from comments to sexual harrassment.
Keen baker James Taylor, who works for Chesterfield Council, said he was regularly shocked by ‘implications’ that men couldn’t cook.
He said: “I have baked cakes on more than one occasion to take to church events.
“On each occasion, I have had someone come up to me and ask if my mum has made it or if it has been baked by the lady who normally makes the tea and coffee, the implication being that I can’t bake.
“It might not be good enough to win Great British Bake Off but I’m capable of following a recipe and putting together a batch of chocolate brownies or a date and walnut loaf.”
Heeley MP Meg Munn, who has launched the survey with The University of Sheffield, spoke of how she was called a ‘fit young girl’ by another MP.
The former minister for equality said: “I was running around in Parliament and I came across this colleague who had forgotten his pass. He said ‘what a helpful girl you are’, I thought I wasn’t going to say anything as I was in a rush, and then he added ‘what a very fit girl too’.
“Although no doubt it was meant in jest, it is these sorts of comments which belittle, stereotype and push women into a place that can pave the way for some men to go beyond saying something, to serious and dangerous forms of sexual harassment.
“I have no doubt that women and men across South Yorkshire have similar stories.
“It is time we stand up and show that this behaviour is not good enough.”
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore is one of several leading figures supporting the campaign and said she was ‘shocked’ to hear someone automatically referring to the council leader as a man,
She added: “This type of assumption goes to show the culture of disrespect towards women. In South Yorkshire we are determined to change this.”
The findings from the survey will be publicised with the aim of bringing a change in culture and attitudes.
Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7W7RNGP to take part.
What you’ve been saying online
Andrew Stacey: “I recently got, in my own firm, ‘ooh look, a man that does the washing up. Whatever next?’.
Will Roberts: “There’s an SMA baby milk ad which has the slogan ‘Mums - you’re doing great’. What about the dads?”
Jordan Paterson: “ I can’t go a couple of days without hearing ‘Oh suck it up, your a bloke’.”
Clare Tollick: “A client once called me a lovely young girl. I was about 28.”
Ruth Mosalski: “Someone once rang the newsroom and said ‘I don’t want to speak to you, I want to speak to a man’.”