Brunel University – an update on a scandalous story

We recently posted a piece about female engineering postgraduate students at Brunel University receiving an additional grant of £15,000 p.a. – considerably more than the annual gross income of a person working full-time on the minimum wage – solely on the basis of being women:

Our FoI request resulted in confirmation that male-to-female transsexuals would be eligible for the grant, even while ‘in transition’:

It was clear to us that the grants were in conflict with Brunel University’s Equality and Diversity Statement, so we sent another FoI request, asking how they intended to resolve the matter. The response has just been received:

140113 Brunel University FoI response, ‘positive action’

Predictably, the ‘positive action’ provisions of The Equality Act (2010) have been used ‘to help ensure that female students participate more fully in engineering courses’. As we all know, not only does the UK need more engineers, it specifically needs more female engineers because (as with all professions, most notably medicine) they’re more likely than their male counterparts to quit the profession altogether, refuse to work in challenging environments, work part-time, retire earlier… yes, that’s a prudent use of taxpayers’ money, given men pay 72% of the income tax collected in the UK, and women only 28%.

We’re not aware of even one area where the ‘positive action’ provisions in The Equality Act have been used to advance men who are ‘under-represented’ in the education system, the workplace, or elsewhere. If you know of any such areas, would you please email me with details? Thank you.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • bubblyian
  • Just read the government guidance for “positive action”. Most examples assume women are by default a disadvantaged group BUT this is not in the act. The act only states sex,not women as a protected characteristic. It does give only one example where a man would get postive action. The provision appears only there to justify a 50/50 or under-represented argument, to privilege mainly women, to get advantage in order to gain higher paid jobs and legally discriminate against men. Under-reprentation is not given a definite value in the guidance. It does not try to prove this is necessary either. In theory the government is in breach of this act for all areas where men are underpresented as I do not see any measures allowed under the act, being taken to change this. The only argument and defacto inference that can be deduced is that men are not of equal merit to women to in all these professions. There you have it, men are inferior therefore they do not need help due to under-representation in women dominated professions, But women are always of equal merit when applying for male dominated jobs and need positive action to beat them.

    One thing it does show is that for a woman engineer student to get an additional grant they would have to get an equal or higher pass mark than a male student. Just because both had a pass grade does not make it allowable to discrimate. If this is not the case the male student can claim discrimination. Discriminating just because a woman is a woman is not covered by the act unless she has childcare difficulties apparently, because we all know that only women have children or only women care for them, right?

    This law should be amended to remove this artificial discrimination. i find it an insult to my intelligence that an equality law can contain legal discrimination. As a white male I must be a genius to get a job or be promoted these days in seems. But if i do not get a job my benefits would be cut, or be forced into the “work for benefits” situation. How is that fair?

  • A brilliant enquiry Mike – many thanks for that. Just what was needed.
    I think there are two points that are important:
    1) In the teaching example given in the comments, no way were men given substantial sums to join primary school teaching (i.e. with women being consequently disadvantaged). The initiatives were ‘tasters’ and outreach enquiries.
    2) Where we appear to be missing out is having somebody make an application just for men e.g. in veterinary science, or HR. If we do that, we are playing the positive action game, which to me is not reasonable in the first place – though if the government is committed to it for women, it should be committed for men.

    • Thanks Peter. Men are simply not organised to ‘play’ the equality game. But that will change. And when we see men getting £15,000 p.a. more than women to study (say) Veterinary Science…

    • In teaching , nursing, child care, and a few other areas in health and social care there are attempts to encourage males. These usually centre on imagery in promotional material and references to welcoming applications from males . Such encouragements are of a different order to this financial boon . The law requires the positive action to be “proportionate” this looks totally out of proportion. The problem being this proportionality can be tested in court only if someone can afford to take a case.

      • Perhaps the Party could encourage members to send you examples of similarly egregious examples of favouring women.

  • If you had the energy you could follow this up with a FOI with regard to the equality impact assessment. In other words the evidence for the policy and for it’s appropriateness /proportionality. Why such generous provision?

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