At the exciting closing plenary of the 2018 Professional Services Conference, where the facilitators helped the audience to uncover the ‘implicit assumptions’ at the University, the overwhelming message was that Professional Services staff don’t feel as valued as academic staff.

How could the organisers top this for the 2019 conference? Hmmm, let’s think: why not invite a keynote speaker who specialises in the kind of casual sexism that is the stock-in-trade of a 1970s comedian?

Will Kintish, who spoke about how to become a better networker, and describes himself as ‘the UK’s leading authority on Business Networking Skills training’, spiced up his 58 minutes on the stage, with the following comedic gems:

1) He asked a woman in the audience to smile. Think that’s a pathetic thing to complain about?  Take a look at this

2) He complimented his son-in-law for ‘taking his daughter off his hands’ and for producing his grandchildren. Presumably his son-in-law is part-seahorse.

3) He compared the amount of time he has been married to his wife with the prison sentence for murder. Whilst this might (or might not) work as an in-joke between lifelong friends in a wedding speech, it’s pretty crap to talk about your spouse this way in a public forum.

4) As part of his analysis of the kinds of groups people form in a networking situation, he asserted that women always stand in closed groups (thereby preventing others from talking to them) also stating that for women to open up these groups they will have to go ‘against your natural DNA’.  In an academic institution that presumably values evidence-based claims, this seems to be a particularly stupid, as well as insulting, thing to say.

Ha, you say, we’ve all heard worse down the pub, and these are certainly not the most sexist things a man on stage has ever said. What’s all the fuss about?

Professional Services staff are largely women and amongst the lowest paid in the institution. This ‘top ten’ university has one of the worst gender pay gaps in the sector and recently failed to get an Athena Swan Bronze award for the institution. A current ‘pause’ on recruitment and regrades for Professional Services roles means that there will be more work dumped on fewer shoulders.

Last year this section of the University said ‘we don’t feel valued’. And the University said, hold my coat, I’ll find you a mother-in-law joke.

Portal news story on professional services conference (staffwall):

Link to Will Kintish presentation:

You can hear the quotes relevant to the points made above at:

1) 18:08-18:20
2) 19:00-19:20
3) 23:40-23:52
4) 39:09-39:21 and 40:38-41:06

Will Kintish is on twitter. subtext does not recommend the use of the hashtag #ivebeenkintished to let him know what you think about his attitude to women.

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