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Is 'lad culture' in HE problematic? Exploring the perspectives of staff in Higher Education Institutions.

Wednesday 11 March 2015, 1.00PM to 2.00pm

Speaker(s): Vanita Sundaram, Centre for Research on Education and Social Justice

In this paper I explore the phenomenon of ‘lad culture’ in higher education, highlighting the way in which it is characterised and perceived by staff working in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK. The study drew on data from six HEIs in the UK; within each institution we conducted interviews and focus groups with staff with varying levels of responsibility for student welfare and experience. Findings indicate that ‘lad culture’ is perceived as evident in HEIs, characterised by misogynistic, homophobic and sometimes racist language and behaviour, ranging from verbal harassment to physical and sexualised aggression and violence. ‘Lad culture’ is perceived as existing primarily in social contexts; however, some participants had witnessed or experienced ‘laddish’ behaviour being perpetrated in teaching and learning contexts also. I argue that ‘lad culture’ appears to exist across differing higher education contexts, but that staff do not always recognise it as problematic or feel enabled to address it. I suggest that HEIs should critically reflect on ways to enhance existing structures, policies and practices to create contexts which are conducive to gender and sexual equality.

Location: A/D017, Science Education Building, Alcuin D Block