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So, the Institute of Physics isn’t just being perverse when it identifies sexist ‘banter’ as a problem that affects girls’ education.

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True, there are specific insults for girls who are judged insufficiently feminine (‘dyke’, ‘lesbo’) or insufficiently attractive (‘minger’), but there are also more general insults for girls which don’t depend on their behaviour or their appearance.

‘Make me a sandwich’, for instance, is something any male can say to any female.

When the talks about ‘boys and girls cheerfully baiting each other in the playground’, the implication is that we’re dealing with something reciprocal, a ‘battle of the sexes’ in which the two sides are evenly matched. What can a girl say to a boy that will make him feel like a commodity, a piece of meat?

What popular catchphrase can she fling at him that has the same dismissive force as ‘make me a sandwich’?

Often, during a visit, the Senior Leadership Team would assert that there was no problem with sexist language, only for the classroom teachers to refer to some cases and the students to report that it was an everyday reality.

Such language was often dismissed as ‘harmless banter’, but many of the students, particularly girls, did not see it as such, and, in extreme cases, it verged on bullying.

It’s an all-purpose put-down, a way of reminding women that their role is to serve and to obey.

Similarly, comments on girls’ bodies—admiring as well as derogatory—are symbolic assertions of the entitlement of boys and men to treat girls and women as sexual objects.

The had ‘Saying ‘sissy’ is sexist, teachers tell pupils of five in new government drive to stamp out gender stereotypes’.

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