A barrister has slammed a senior partner at a London law firm for sending her a “sexist” and “misogynistic” message in which he complimented her “stunning picture”, on a social network designed for professionals to make contacts.
Admitting that his LinkedIn message was "probably horrendously politically incorrect", Alexander Carter-Silk of Brown Rudnick told Charlotte Proudman: "that is a stunning picture!!!”
"You definitely win the prize for the best Linked in [sic] picture I have ever seen," he added.
Mentioning a potential professional connection in the closing line of the email, Mr Carter-Silk wrote: “Always interest [sic] to understant [sic] people's skills and how we might work together.”
Ms Proudman, a barrister and a PhD candidate at Cambridge University researching the practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), hit back at Mr Carter-Silk and called his message “offensive” and “misogynistic”.
"I find your message offensive,” she wrote in a cutting rebuke.
"I am on linked-in [sic] for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.
"The eroticisation of women's physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women. It silences women's professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject.
"Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message," she said.
After Ms Proudman shared the message on Twitter, she was flooded with message of support.
@CRProudman Met with a guy through LinkedIn on the pretext of start up support, asked if I used it as a dating site & if I had a boyfriend— Clare Bates (@Batetron) September 8, 2015
The barrister told The Evening Standard that the message was “very disappointing”.
"I'm on there for business purposes and I thought he may be interested in my skills and experience as opposed to my body.
“People are treating LinkedIn like Tinder, I've received many messages based on my physical appearance, but this one was from a senior partner," she said.
Ms Proudman told the newspaper that she has contacted the CEO of Brown Rudnick, will refer the message to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is expecting a public apology from Mr Cater-Silk.
However, Mr Carter-Silk defended message. He told the RollOnFriday law news website: "Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on Linked in, my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on linked in which was unfortunately misinterpreted“.
"Ms Proudman is clearly highly respected and I was pleased to receive her request to linkup and very happy to instruct her on matters which [are] relevant to her expertise that remains the position," he said.
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A spokesperson for Brown Rudnick told The Independent: “Both Mr. Carter-Silk and the firm have promptly and sincerely apologised to Ms Proudman.
"We have also assured Ms Proudman that we are committed to gender equality and do not condone any words or actions that depart from that principle."
The incident follows a report which found that sexism is rife among barristers.
Professionals in the filed are “existing in a children’s playground” who know they can get away with “grossly disrespectful” comments, according to the Bar Council.