18 Oct 2013

Is it sexist for a man to offer a woman a seat?

MPs in the Commons allowed pregnant Jo Swinson to stand for 20 minutes. Channel 4 News asked who you would give your seat to – and hit the streets, armed with a folding chair, to get some answers.

The equalities minister was left standing for 20 minutes on Wednesday after arriving late for prime minister’s questions – and questions have now been asked about whether her male, or indeed female, colleagues should have offered her a seat.

A source close to Ms Swinson suggested, however, that it was sexist to suggest that the minister could not cope. Ms Swinson tweeted that she had been happy to stand, but that when on public transport seat offers are “welcome”.

David Cameron later got involved in the row, with his spokesman saying the prime minister would offer his seat to a pregnant woman on the bus, and that it would not be sexist to do so.

Channel 4 News took to the streets of central London, armed with a chair, to ask people if they thought men offering women chairs is sexist (see video, above).

You have also been answering our online poll, which showed more people would give their seat to an elderly woman than a pregnant woman (see results, below).

As of 3pm on Friday, the poll had recieved over 500 results: 96 per cent of respondents said they would offer up a seat to an elderly woman, and 95 per cent said they would do they same for a pregnant woman.

Women on crutches would also receive the offer of a seat from 95 per cent of respondents.

Men were significantly less likely to be offered a seat than women. For example a man with bags would be offered a seat by 14 per cent of respondents, but a woman with bags is more than twice as likely to be offered the chance to take a load off her feet.

The poll also pitted Paul Dacre against “a politician”. The results found Paul Dacre is more likely to be offered a seat than a politician (perhaps the prospect of the notoriously ferocious editor looming over you was too much for some).

However, neither should expect to sit down – only three people said they would offer a seat to Paul Dacre, and only two said they would offer a seat to a politician.

Who would you offer your seat up to? Answer our poll below.