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Did I overreact? What would you have done? Sorry, long post!

(12 Posts)
BilboTheAlmighty Fri 30-May-14 12:29:11

I am a secondary school teacher and I share a form group with a colleague.

This colleague has a sexist outlook on his job, to the point that I think it has a negative impact on his pastoral duties towards the girls and boys in our form. His sexism isn't overt and is therefore far more pernicious.

Examples include: running out of the classroom when a few girls approached him to talk about a problem they were experiencing, telling them Mrs Bilbo would take care of it instead. His justification? I'm more apt to deal with girls' problems (his words, not mine). As a teacher, can't he deal with a pupil feeling down because they struggle in maths or feel bullied or whatever?

It came to a head when he again segregated our duties according to our genders: whether this is a personal or an academic issue, he just doesn't want to deal with the girls. It's not that they just prefer talking me, it is the fact that he refuses point blank to deal with their problems even if they come to him first!

I put my foot down and told him his attitude was sexist and refused to keep on this gender biased farce any longer. Not only is his attitude disrespectful to me (as it happens, I'm a teacher, not just a woman, and my duty extends to ALL pupils) but I'm convinced the girls are now subconsciously assimilating the message that their problems aren't worth a man's attention. I even overheard comments while silently working in the background and yes, I am worried about the message it sends my pupils.

I have involved management in my complaint. I am certain the relationship with that colleague is now irreparable. I don't care to be honest: for various reasons (not just the sexist one) I have absolutely no respect for him as a professional.

Was I right to put my foot down and call him out on his behaviour? In my experience, gender bias when it comes to pastoral and academic care is totally old-fashioned. I'm a future mum myself, and I would hate it if my child was made to feel like they can't approach a teacher of any gender if they had a problem at school.

BranchingOut Fri 30-May-14 12:30:31

No, you are not overreacting.

I say that as an ex- SLT teacher.

PenguinsHatchedAnEgg Fri 30-May-14 12:37:07

Were you right to put your foot down? - yes, yes, 100 x yes!

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 30-May-14 13:09:57

Yanbu, even a tiny bit. It is one thing if the girls felt more comfortable speaking to a female and asked for you specifically due to maybe a gendered concern.

But if they went to him and felt he could help them... it's his job to help them.

Do you think there are other reasons for him not wanting to engage with teenage girls?

BilboTheAlmighty Fri 30-May-14 13:46:00

Thanks people smile I'm glad I wasn't overreacting! I questioned myself because I was afraid my personal and professional dislike for the man tinted my judgement of the situation.

Really yes! I agree with you. If the girls had come to me because they felt more at ease with me, I would have understood. But in this case, he deliberately sends them to me without even trying to see what the problem is! And to be fair, most problems we deal with aren't gendered.

And I'm going to go even further: even if it was a gendered issue, I would still expect him as a professional to listen to their problem first and then decide what the best course of action would be. IME most issues form teachers deal with aren't gendered per se . They are perceived as such out of habit. You should see how he just dismissed friendships problems amongst some girls as just a "female issue". As far as I'm concerned, such issues can be influenced by gender but at their core, they are NOT gendered. Do I make sense? I'm not very eloquent in writing I'm afraid: I find it hard to express my point of view properly.

And really he has a very awkward way of relating to teenage girls. He's made some comments in the past... I can't say too much on here but when I told a few close friends in RL, they were outraged. Thing is, he fancies himself as a confident for boys, tries to get all chummy with them (it is cringing!) but even they always come to me when they have a problem. And I don't send them away!

Talking to some colleagues who have known him for much longer, he is afraid of strong women. He views women as poor petals who need to be patronised and therefore under the authority of a man. His behaviour is not openly asserted but is composed of a series of micro events. Unfortunately for him, he's chosen the wrong person to mess with.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Fri 30-May-14 13:50:14


lottiegarbanzo Fri 30-May-14 13:58:22

Saying that anything is 'just a female issue' says it all really.

He sounds out of his depth.

kickassangel Sat 31-May-14 17:32:26

I used to teach in a boys' school and as a form teacher I had to teach sex ed. to them. I did not just duck out of it as a 'boys issue'. In fact, I think that being able to have a discussion with them hearing both male and female perspectives really helped them.

At best, he's trying to get out of doing his job. At worst, he is knowingly doing something which undermines the development of his pupils.

LeBearPolar Sat 31-May-14 18:02:32

I am often the only female teacher on DofE expeditions, acting as female cover for a number of mixed-sex groups of pupils. Each group has a male leader (since they are the ones with the hill-walking qualifications...) If any girl asks to talk to me rather than their male group leader because they don't feel comfortable telling him their period has started unexpectedly or whatever - that's fine, I get to that group and deal with it. But if the girl is happy talking to a male member of staff then I absolutely expect him to deal with it like a professional and not make her feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

So you absolutely did the right thing.

BilboTheAlmighty Sat 31-May-14 19:13:01

kickassangel I think it's both: he is lazy AND sexist. I really can't get my head around the fact that man is a teacher...

LeBearPolar Exactly, we should always be there for pupils, whatever their gender.

Next week should be interesting... Hopefully he will have had the time to think things through over half-term but I doubt it!

SolidGoldBrass Tue 03-Jun-14 16:15:55

Yes, you were right to complain. As others have said, if it were the case that girls preferred to talk to you for things like menstruation issues then fair enough, but it clearly isn't what's going on. Hope he either gets a firm warning or decides to sod off and work in a boys' school or something.

WilsonFrickett Wed 04-Jun-14 00:16:37

It also sounds like you're getting all the work: he won't engage with the girls and he's trying too hard with the boys so they are coming to you too. That in itself is sexist...

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