Oxford Council rules female fellowship discriminatory on the grounds of gender

The Johanna Randall-MacIver junior research fellowship at Oxford University has been available to aspiring female students since the 1930s, but has recently been ruled “discriminatory on the grounds of gender” by Oxford’s Council.

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Eliza Archer NewsMavens, Europe
Oxford Council rules female fellowship discriminatory on the grounds of gender - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Barrister Catherine Casserley has suggested that this could have knock-on effects around Great Britain, suggesting institutions that offer women only fellowships may have to re-evaluate “whether legally, in light of the Equality Act, they can offer them to only one gender and see whether exceptions or positive action provisions applies.”

Alexandra Wilson, both a recipient of the fellowship and a professor at Oxford Brookes, commented that it was a “rather regrettable consequence of a well-intended law that this opportunity for women should be removed.”

Previous recipients have spoken highly of the fellowship, stating that it transformed their academic careers. The Employment Equality Act of 2010 stipulates that employers are not permitted to advertise or recruit for posts to only one gender. There are exemptions to this that allow for “positive action” if the chosen group is underrepresented in that field.

Details from the story:

  • It has been ruled that under the equality law that the women-only fellowship was “discriminatory on the grounds of gender”.
  • The research fellowship was first awarded in the 1930s and was designed for women studying fine arts, music or literature.
  • The fellowship was created by David Randall-MacIver, an Archaeologist and Oxford graduate, following his wife’s death in 1932.
  • When the fellowship was established, Randall-MacIver specified that the recipient should be a female academic.
  • The decision has sparked questions surrounding gender-based fellowships.


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