In today’s The week that was… – is racial discrimination still an issue at universities, sexism in science is driving away women, women over 50 are staying in work longer but with few promotion opportunities and what role can men play in fighting everyday sexism.
Is racial discrimination still an issue at universities? This is the question being asked following Harvard’s and Oxford’s photo projects aimed at raising awareness of racism in higher education. The projects, entitled ‘I, too, am Harvard’ and ‘I, too, am Oxford’, featured black and minority ethnic students holding placards with messages such as “You do know they only accepted you because you’re black?”, “Then…why do you speak such good English?”, “Having an opinion does not make me an ‘angry black woman’.” In 2011, a report by the National Union of Students (NUS) found that one in six black students had experienced racism at their institution and one third did not trust their university to handle complaints properly.
The Guardian’s Academics Anonymous series is discussing sexism in science driving away women this week. The author writes: “Women in science face persistent challenges and discrimination…I will be told by my supervisor not to worry about enthusiasm and hard work because in the end, I will leave science for marriage and children. I have been asked to divulge my relationship status and future maternity plans in interviews. I have even watched my professor refuse to interview astounding female candidates because they have a child.”
A recent report from Unison, Women Deserve Better, has revealed changes in the world of work for women over 50 years of age. The findings of the survey show that women are staying in the workforce for longer but have fewer chances of promotion or moving to a higher grade job. The report also describes women in this age bracket as the ‘sandwich generation’ – women caught between the responsibilities of caring for children and grandchildren and/or a dependent elderly relative. An article in the Guardian argues that ageism and sexism in the workplace are as ubiquitous as ever.
What role can men play in the fight against everyday sexism? With recent discussions on lad culture in higher education, it is important to consider how men can be involved in challenging sexist behaviour. Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, writes: “The fact is that battling gender inequality isn’t about men v women. It’s about people against prejudice. And we need everybody on our side. For some men, hearing feminist arguments from their male peers can be an incredibly powerful way of getting the message across – so we need those allies out there spreading the word.”
Have something to add? Write to us – Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk.