Friday October 2nd, 2020, a mail with an open invitation to sign the petition ’Sexism at Danish Universities’ went out from a group of 16 initiators to the entire Danish Academic sector.

The petition arose from a deep personal and professional desire to cast light on the prevalent and ongoing problem of sexism in Danish Academia. But also to qualify and nuance the understanding of the varied forms of sexism and, ultimately, to contribute to ways to counter sexism structurally as well as culturally.

On Friday October 9th, a news story of the initiative and its 689 signatures and more than 800 testimonies broke on the front page of Politiken, one of the largest Danish newspapers, with a publication of all 689 signatures and an in depth coverage of the initiative and the need for it, as well as quotes from the testimonies received to the mailbox – examples of different instances of sexism.

In the days following the Politiken coverage, the petition was given attention by most Danish newsmedia and other relevant news-outlets such as university posts.

The petition

This petition was one in a series of sector-specific #MeToo initiatives that arose during the fall of 2020, sparked by TV-host Sofie Linde’s speech at the Zulu Comedy Gala, August 28th, 2020. It distinguishes itself by explicitly and continuously insisting on 1) the structural aspects of sexism rather than on individual instances – no cases of naming specific people or contexts; 2) on finding ways to counter sexism – in all its many manifestations from subtle everyday sexism and gendered power demonstrations to explicit sexual harassment and violence; and 3) drawing closely on state-of-the-art expert knowledge – a number of the group of 16 initiators have expert knowledge as gender researchers and practitioners.

Action and insights

In honor of the many testimonies sent to the mailbox as well as the numerous instances of personal reaching out to members of the group of initiators beyond the mailbox input, this website is a result of the following actions that have taken place between October 2020 and the launching of this website, March 2021:

  • An analysis of the many testimonies of sexism experienced or witnessed have resulted in a range of categories of sexism that offer ways to understand and counter sexism both relationally, structurally and organizationally – see the categories here.
  • A handbook has been developed on the basis of the analysis and categorization that offers hands-on methods to counter sexism in concrete, day-to-day situations – See and download or print your own copy here.
  • A quantitative study of responses to the mailbox was conducted in order to get a deeper understanding of motivations to respond, demographics of responders, history of instances experienced (is the situation ongoing, concluded, how was the situation handled, what have the consequences been…)
  • A number of dialogues between the group of initiators and’ managers and policy- and decision makers in the academic sector have taken place

In total the initiative has given insights into how sexism and sexual harassment in Academia

  • Take place with great variations in expression and form
  • Can happen to anyone – even though the majority of victims of sexism are women
  • Have obvious cultural and structural characteristics
  • Flourish in hierarchies of power and under competitive and precarious conditions where some are oblivious to their privileges and others are particularly exposed

Welcome. We hope you will find this website informative and useful!