A university has handed back awards after a ‘sexist’ ceremony that featured female dancers in corsets. shiny, silver hotpants was deemed a ‘throwback to the days of Bernard Manning’
The University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, said the event was more in keeping with attitudes of the 1970s, while Liverpool-based agency Lab also rejected a prize on the same grounds.
The event was organised by Entertainment at the Digital Entrepreneur Awards, set up to honour high-performers in the digital world, and also featured a comedian whose act many of those in attendance described as ‘tasteless’.
A team from the University of Bradford had attended the ceremony, held in the Principal Hotel in Manchester after being nominated for their ‘Don’t Go To Bradford’ promotional video, released online to turn perceptions about Bradford on their head.
Entertainment at the Digital Entrepreneur Awards, set up to honour high-performers in the digital world, included female burlesque dancers
The dancers were wearing corsets and silver hot pants dancing onstage and a comedian whose act many of those in attendance described as ‘tasteless’
The video, produced last year, has already been recognised at numerous other awards ceremonies.
Their team won in their category, but have announced they will be handing back the award this week in protest to the ‘misjudged’ tone of the ceremony.
Segments of the show that were criticised included entertainment from Iain Sterling, narrator of reality show Love Island.
The university is currently working on attracting more women into the digital industry, and has a 50:50 campaign to see gender equality in computer science courses by 2020.
An open letter from the university to other winners said: ‘The tone set at the event left us greatly saddened and with little room to reflect on our success.
‘Much of the evening’s content was inappropriate and unnecessary and, we felt, a step backwards for digital in terms of respect and kindness towards all colleagues.
Lawrence Jones (pictured in 2015), CEO and founder of UKFast, which sponsored the Digital Entrepreneur Awards
‘Taking it all into consideration, we will hand back our award. This does not take away from thanking the judges for recognising our, and others, work as award winning; but we do believe it does make a statement by which we can alert the awards to our dissatisfaction.’
Mark Garratt, Director of External Affairs at the university, was among those in attendance. He said: ‘There was a compere making sexist jokes and a bunch of burlesque dancers on stage. It was like going back to the days of Bernard Manning.
‘We thought afterwards and we couldn’t possibly keep the award. The whole ceremony didn’t sit comfortably with what, as a university, we are trying to promote.’
Liverpool-based Lab, another of the event’s big winners, have also announced they would be handing back their award.
And many of those attended the event also took to social media to criticise the tone of the awards ceremony.
The Principal Manchester hotel, which hosted the Digital Entrepreneur Awards on November 22
The awards organisers have issued an apology, saying: ‘We missed the mark and we wholeheartedly apologise.
‘Our aim was to celebrate tech and never to undermine the incredible women in the industry or do anything to negate the work everyone in the industry is doing to promote equality and redress the balance.
‘At this stage, it’s not clear if we will move forward with the event next year but if we do, we will reach out to you to hear your thoughts on how we celebrate technology in the right way.’