It won’t surprise you that someone who works in girls’ education and believes firmly in its merits also feels strongly that men have a responsibility towards equality that goes beyond platitudes and well-meaning gestures.

I remember well a few years ago when I was on a cycling trip with my wife and rode down a cycle highway in south London, which was surrounded by nature.

I commented at the time that I would love to live close to a path like this and commute to work every day in this environment. My wife disagreed. Her reason: the lack of street lighting which made this path unsafe to be alone on. That hadn’t even occurred to me.

The moment stayed with me and highlighted the privilege I have enjoyed all my life. I have never worried about being out late at night in a poorly lit area. I never took off my headphones because I wanted to be more aware of my surroundings, never held my bunch of keys in my hand in case I needed to use them against someone, and never scanned a road for open shops that I might step into if I felt in danger.

Ham & High: Deputy head Freddie Meier is grateful to his wife for highlighting the privilege of being maleDeputy head Freddie Meier is grateful to his wife for highlighting the privilege of being male (Image: Channing School)

I owe my wife an enormous debt of gratitude for educating me over the years about this privilege that I live with and I feel deeply sad that the same is not true for her. 

Further to the everyday sexism and misogyny that women have to deal with is the fact that the world we live in has been designed by men, for men.

I was shocked to find out that the transport system was designed for the needs of men and rarely considered that women might have other needs.

The same is true of much of the medical sector where we see better research into male physiology and drugs that are largely tested for male recipients, even if women take them.

So this is a plea to the men reading this: let’s do better.

We must recognise our privilege. Many of us are in circumstances where we can and should make a difference.

In our jobs, we can think about the impact on female colleagues or clients and whether they have needs we have not considered. We can educate other men around us.

Far too many of us look away when we encounter poor behaviour such as jokes that are simply not funny or objectifying comments towards strangers and acquaintances alike.

We all know it is happening and if we all stopped accepting or passively condoning it, things would change for the better.

Let’s not be defensive, protesting that it's ‘not all men’, but let’s listen and do better.

  • Freddie Meier is the deputy head of Channing School for Girls in Highgate.