Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Feminist Event: The Future of Women-only scholarships


Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2,
Pipitea Campus, Victoria University, Wellington

From 5.30pm light refreshments will be available in the Foyer, Bunny Street entrance

Recent publicity arising from the research carried out by a team from the Institute of Policy Studies at Victoria University has raised the issue of the continuation of women-only scholarships and grants. Recent statistics show that women are now in the majority of tertiary students at all levels.

In view of the fact that women are no longer under-represented in tertiary study, the legality of women-only scholarships was raised with the Human Rights Commission. Gender-specific awards are legal under s150 of the Human Rights Act (1993) which creates an exception for charitable instruments.

As there has been recent media coverage of this issue it was thought that a panel discussion, with audience input, would be useful to review the purpose of women-only scholarships, examine whether they continue to serve the intended purpose and to reaffirm their relevance.

Many thanks to Kassie, the acting WRO at VUWSA, for letting me know about this by email. I'm not sure who has organised it, but sounds like a good discussion!


Socrates said...

I think there is no more need for government funded women only scholarships... As always if individuals or private organisations wish to give scholarships they should be able to do so with applying any criteria they want.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Women may not be under-represented any more, but isn't that partly because of access to student loans? And don't women take so much longer to pay off their student loans either because of glass ceilings or because they don't earn as much as men?

Giovanni said...

Goes beautifully with the idea of not addressing pay disparity. Hats off to the human rights commission for a job well done!

Giovanni said...

Wait, perhaps I'm mis-reading "raised *with* the human rights commission". Do we know who raised it?

Anna said...

I'm glad you bet me to the punch on this issue, Julie - I was very slowly writing about it!

I think there's still plenty of gender inequity in tertiary education, but this is not necessarily addressed by the scholarship system as it stands now.

It's not surprising that half or more of the 18 year old middle class kids who go to university are female. The better question to ask is, who doesn't get to the point of beginning varsity (ie, who gets 'weeded out' by the education system, life circumstances, etc). And being the primary caregiver to kids remains as much as barrier to education as ever.

Barriers to tertiary ed are actually quite a complex blend of class and gender issues - so scholarships which target those already selected by the system won't address those issues. At the best of times, scholarships are a pretty poor substitute to an education system which is genuinely accessible to men and women of all classes.

And it should be able to discuss this sort of thing without prompting the backlash against feminism which I just know is coming...

Julie said...

Apparently it's organised by the Federation of Graduate Women and the panel will include someone from NZUSA and Paul McCallister, thanks Kassie for the email with more info.

Sorry I am not really here!

Anonymous said...

Women may be equal/a majority overall, but they are underrepresented in some areas (eg. engineering, some of the sciences, computer science). I think scholarships should be made available to women in these areas. And conversely that there should be scholarships for males entering traditionally female-dominated fields (eg. nursing, teaching).

Anonymous said...

When I was at school scholarships were awarded on the basis of merit, not need. I was awarded one of the Federation of University Women scholarships and like others have written, I was going to go to uni anyway.

I agree that to encourage participation by women it is sensible to consider those disciplines where women have a hard time. I have been doing some work recently with female engineering academics and it is quite striking what awful experiences so many have had. My little sister has just started her engineering degree at Auckland and I worry about her in that environment but it is heartening to know the Women in Engineering group even exists.


Anonymous said...

ps. However, my sister most definitely doesn't need a scholarship.