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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

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4.1 Exploring discrimination

While it isn’t specifically related to the world of work, Activity 4 provides an interesting insight into gender stereotypes across society.

Activity 4 The Bechdel Test

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes for this activity.

Watch this short film about the Bechdel test:

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Video 10: The Bechdel Test, Explained
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Remember the three criteria required. To pass the Bechdel test, a movie must have:

  • 2 named female characters…
  • …who have a conversation…
  • …about something other than a man.

Next time you watch a film – have a go at applying the rule and see if it passes.


Film and theatre are two places where gender stereotypes are often seen, so this can be a useful tool for raising awareness. However, it doesn’t always work, for example with films that have a central, female character who spends a lot of time alone, such as Gravity (Sandra Bullock).

As well as this test for films, a test for plays has been devised by the Sphynx Theatre. It asks questions such as ‘Is there a woman centre stage? Is she active rather than reactive? Is the character compelling and complex?’ If you are interested in exploring this test further, you can find out more here: Sphinx theatre resources [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Now watch this short video in which a variety of women share their experiences of sexism in the workplace.

Video 11: Sexism In The Workplace Isn’t Dead—We Checked
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The CIPD (2021) explains that there are two types of harassment related to sex, and both involve ‘unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’:

  • Sexual harassment involves unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. This must have an actual sexual content or connotation, for example making sexual remarks or jokes or making promotion decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected.
  • Sex-based harassment is a separate form of harassment involving unwanted conduct that is related to an individual’s sex or the sex of another person. This is not sexual in nature but is behaviour which is linked to sex; for example, in a female-dominated workplace, constantly telling derogatory jokes about male stupidity which a particular male employee finds offensive.