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Call to order.

Byline: Bill Doult

Bullying sexist attitudes by male MPs toward female colleagues do exist, say Teesside's two women Members.

Stockton South's Dari Taylor and Redcar's Vera Baird have backed up the findings of a new survey that reveals antiquated attitudes surviving in Parliament.

Conducted by Professor Joni Lovenduski of Birkbeck College, University of London, the investigation took evidence from 83 current and recent women MPs on how they were treated by male colleagues.

Neither Mrs Taylor nor Ms Baird have personally been subjected to such treatment but Ms Baird recalls attempts by a minister to intimidate her over how she voted during the Iraq war debate.

Mrs Taylor said: "There is absolutely no doubt there is 2still a very sexist approach by some, expressed to intimidate and often it is women who are being intimidated."

But she stressed that women MPs must differentiate between 'sexist intimidation' and the vigorous cut and thrust of debate.

"This House has been mainly a male culture for 600 years, used to a brow-beating men's club culture. But there's no doubt people are getting used to change."

Redcar MP Baird recalled watching one male North-east MP ) not from Teesside ) patting a woman Member's bottom as she went through the Lobby.

She said: "I did spend 20 years arguing in court with judges, elderly male bullies who thought women should not be in the place.

"After that, the Commons has been a doddle."
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2004
Words:237
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