10 June 2021
Banter around sexuality and race is now off-limits but it still seems to be OK to makes jokes relating to gender, Derbyshire Chief Constable Rachel Swann told a conference session called Understanding Misogyny in Policing.
The Chief, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) gender lead, told the session: “It isn’t about not having fun – having a laugh is important for de-stressing - but it shouldn’t come at someone else’s expense.”
Rachel presented on the current work of the NPCC around gender and discrimination, including the National Violence Against Women Strategy which aims to help create a safe environment for women and girls.
South Wales Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis gave a presentation on gender discrimination in the workplace which showed the severity of sexual harassment.
He revealed statistics from an independent survey showing that 90 per cent of female officers and staff had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
And the ACC said: “When we talk to people who experience this harassment, they don’t want things to escalate, they don’t want a big, formal process, they just want the behaviour to stop.”
The meeting was led by the Federation’s self-organised women’s group with its chair Zoe Wakefield giving an introduction highlighting the effects of misogyny.
Also taking part was group member Belinda Goodwin who told delegates: “You still get eye rolls when you talk about ‘female’ issues. It’s just about creating change and bringing barriers down so we can discuss things properly.”
The session outlined the ways in which female police officers can still face discrimination including the questions that women have received from other police officers about their competency for the job – for example, one female officer was challenged about wanting to be a firearms officer with questions about whether she was strong enough to wear all the kit.
The panel also took questions from the audience on topics such as promotion and flexible working.
Women’s group member Inspector Sam Hawkins related the discrimination faced by women who choose to work part-time due to childcare.
She said: “When it happened to me, I was still the same person, with the same abilities to offer the force. The only difference was, I was part-time.”