Sexism in local government has to be taken as seriously as racism, warns a report released last week.
The year-long study by the Bristol School of Business shows that only 36 of the 351 local government chief executives are women.
The report, Room at the Top?, shows that women CEOs feel they need to be twice as good as men to be promoted and they fear that the proportion of women is unlikely to increase significantly.
They also claim that male colleagues lack respect for them. Many mentioned how male colleagues regularly comment on their appearance and a number said male colleagues try to greet them with a kiss - an action some feel inappropriate in a work environment. One male council leader would not let a female CEO go to the bar to buy a drink.
The report is based on research including a survey of all local government chief executives and 18 focus groups.
Francesca Okosi, director of HR at the London Borough of Brent said, "The report's findings do not surprise me as I have witnessed similar experience. HR needs to play a key role in the changing macho culture in local government. To do this we need the support of the elected members to raise awareness of the issue."