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Maskulinities project combats sexism in sport

Led by Puja Laporte (Education - Directors Office), Clare Philips (Registrar's Business Group) and Max Pike (Students' Union), the 'Maskulinities' initiative addresses the increased risk of sexual misconduct faced by university students. The project focuses on engaging male students who are involved in sports.

Developed through a collaborative effort involving the Community Values Education Programme (CVEP), Report and Support (R+S), and the Warwick Students’ Union (SU), 'Maskulinities' aims to foster male students' sense of responsibility in combating sexism and sexual misconduct.

The 3-part workshop series encourages participants to support each other to develop the knowledge and skills they need to champion change in their communities, and to explore the nuanced nature of masculinity and how short-sighted understandings of masculinity are major contributors to issues of gender-based violence (GBV), sexism, and LGBTphobia.

Can you tell us about the impact your project has had at Warwick?

Puja Laporte: We received positive feedback from the pilot that involved students from 18 of our sports clubs which are currently managed in partnership between Warwick Sport and the SU.

Participants engaged in open discussions about vulnerabilities and explored ways in which patriarchal masculine values can harm individuals and communities through a range of interactive and reflective activities. They reported feeling a shared responsibility for combating unacceptable behaviours and developed personal action plans to take forward. The project is expanding beyond the pilot, with new groups starting in Term 2.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the project?

Puja Laporte: It's seeing students actively engage in our courses and workshops, sharing ideas and building an understanding of other experiences, developing skills in leadership and communication, and taking active responsibility to help tackle challenges such as sexism and sexual misconduct.

It feels rewarding when students reach out to us long after an activity has finished to share how they have applied their skills and confidence in real-life situations.

The judges of Warwick's Gender Equality Awards said:

"This is a really critical project, aimed at a group of people who are quite often left out of the diversity conversation. If we are to reduce gender-based violence this an important step forward. A brilliant idea that turns the normal direction of gender-based initiatives around by challenging men rather than supporting women. A brave and innovative intervention, targeting some of the most entrenched and naturalised areas of behaviour. This has the potential to make a massive difference to campus (and beyond). A very important and innovative concept - Long may it continue."

Clare Philips commented:

"Preventative education and awareness raising are critical to our wider Report and Support strategy, and this successful collaboration between teams is so important as it sets itself as an imaginative response to societal issues that not only affect a section of our community, but our University community as a whole.”