A study by Savanta on 1600 UK university students revealed that over a quarter (26%) of male students think that universities do too much when trying to tackle misogyny. Over half of these claimed their university was doing ‘far too much’, with the rest feeling that ‘slightly too much’ was being done. The results come as part of a wider study into sex education and sexual experiences that was conducted in January 2023.

Perhaps even more surprising, the results found that 18% of female students agreed (11% answered far too much and 7% slightly too much). It’s unclear exactly what informs these views, however misogyny in higher education is being explored by MPs, with more efforts being taken to safeguard females in university. Most of the male and female students with this views hailed from London (31%), compared to other regions.

What is misogyny?

what is misogyny

Misogyny is defined as ‘dislike’ or ‘contempt’ or ‘ingrained prejudice’ towards women. It can be observed in extreme cases such as domestic or sexual violence and harassment, or in more ‘subtle’ ways such as ignoring or speaking over women or simply contributing to views of women being inferior.

What causes misogyny?

According to some, misogynistic views can arise from a variety of underlying factors. These can include upbringing, personal ideals, values and experiences, and cultural factors. The research from Savanta also found that over half (52%) of UK students had no conversations about sexual health and information with their parents or guardians growing up, however an empirical study by Barni and co. (2022) found that parental misogynistic attitudes and beliefs are usually inherited by children. Therefore, if children are not exposed to conversations about sexual health, information and equality in the home, it may feel significantly different when universities address these issues.

How prevalent is misogyny in universities?

prevalence of misogyny in universities

This is difficult to determine, given the multitude of ways misogyny can manifest. There are also a number of studies on students who claim many students who experience sexual misconduct don’t report it! However, one study from the BBC in 2019 found that sexual harassment and assault had trebled in three years!

What are universities doing?

consent workshops at university to tackle misogyny

On the whole, universities appear to be doing more. Statistics from 2015 show that only half of unis had a formal policy on sexual harassment. Moreover, only 11% had ‘lad culture’ training and education programmes, and a third had sexual consent workshops.

Sexual consent is now at the forefront of many discussions – in politics, education, media and more. While many feel that more needs to be done, the results of this study show that not all students agree!

Universities are also aiming to improve and create new pathways for students to report information. They’re also offering extra training for staff and students, whether that’s handling disclosure or sexual consent. A number of institutions are also engaging in raising awareness and partnering with charities or organisations that provide support services.

In summary

Student populations are a diverse hub of opinions, attitudes and political choices – as demonstrated in our research on student voting intentions 2023. Without further questioning, it is unclear why a significant proportion of both male and female students feel that universities are doing too much to tackle misogyny. However, it seems that for now most students still do not feel that way!

Watch the video below to find out more about the results!