Any belief or conviction that leads to consider people as inferior because of their gender or sexual orientation or to limit them to their sexual dimension. But also, any comment, gesture, behaviour or practice based on an unjustified distinction between persons on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation. Sexism leads to adverse consequences in terms of well-being, educational or working conditions, or even employment.
For example, believing that women would be more gifted for subordinate multitasking or administrative positions, or that they would be too emotional for positions of responsibility, is a gender bias.
Ordinary sexism is defined as all comments, attitudes and behaviours based on stereotypes of sex, gender, directly or indirectly, directed against a person, or a group of persons. Although seemingly innocuous, ordinary sexism has the purpose or effect, consciously or unconsciously, of delegitimizing, inferiorizing, insidiously or even "benignly", and altering their psychological or physical health.
This sexism is revealed on a daily basis, for example, through sexist jokes and comments, remarks about motherhood, negative stereotypes, incivility or disrespect, unsolicited compliments or criticism about physical appearance and exclusionary practices.

The Federal Lawon Equality between Women and Men (LEg art. 4) provides a very clear definition: "Discriminatory behaviour means any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature or any other behaviour based on gender that violates the dignity of the person in the workplace, in particular through threats, promising benefits, imposing constraints or exerting pressure of any kind on a person in order to obtain favours of a sexual nature from him".
In short, and in everyday life, this means any behaviour with a sexual connotation, or based on gender (sexism), not desired by the person who is confronted with it, whether it occurs on University premises, in a library, an office or outside, during conferences, breaks, Department events. This also includes electronic exchanges (cyber harassment), private telephone calls, but also daring posters or jokes that create a sexist and stereotypical work environment, which is called environmental harassment.


  • Indecent or embarrassing remarks about colleagues' physical appearance or clothing;
  • Sending sexual messages;
  • Sexist jokes and banter;
  • Intrusive questions about someone's private life or sex life;
  • Showing pornographic material;
  • Unwelcome invitations with sexual aims;
  • Undesired physical contact;
  • Following colleagues inside or outside of the university;
  • Sexual assault, indecent assault, attempted rape and rape.

The victim's feelings take precedence over the perpetrator's intentions.

Any harassment is a serious type of infringment of personality rights.


Psychological harassment (or mobbing) is a series of hostile comments or actions, frequently repeated over a fairly long period of time, through which one or more individuals seek to isolate, marginalise or even exclude a person in the workplace. It is often the case that each individual comment or action seems tolerable, but that taken as a whole, these comments or actions destabilise the victim and may even push them out of their workplace. Psychological harassment is not a simple conflict during the course of in professional relations, or a member of staff being asked – even urgently and repeatedly, if necessary with the threat of disciplinary sanctions or dismissal – to comply with their obligations, or a negative annual review.

In its brochure Bullying and other forms of harassment (in French), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) defines five kinds of psychological harassment:

  • Attacks on the reputation of the person being harassed: reprimanding them without respect, humiliating them, spreading rumours about them, making fun of their appearance;
  • Attacks on the social relationships of the person being harassed: excluding them, isolating them, etc.;
  • Attacks on the person’s ability to communicate: not entering into discussion, not answering, interrupting, ignoring, withholding information, preventing the person from expressing themselves, etc;
  • Attacks on quality of life: assigning the person mainly or exclusively to menial work, below or above their level of responsibility or competence;
  • Attacks on the health of the person harassed: entrusting them with dangerous work or physically demanding tasks, etc.

Whenever tagged with the word confidential, the internal and external resources mentioned on this website ensure the confidentiality of the procedure carried out by the applicant. The guarantee of confidentiality applies to both the procedure itself and its content. Should it be necessary to contact a third party, such as the respondent, the hierarchy or the human resources division, such contact will only be initiated with the agreement of the requesting person. The resource does not take any action without the person's agreement.

Only under exceptional circumstances can it be justified for an internal or external resource to waive its duty of confidentiality without the agreement of the person who called upon it for protection and/or security reasons. This is particularly the case when a person is in danger or may represent a threat to himself or to others.

Information sheets on the investigation procedure are at your disposal (in French only):