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Separate prizes for girls...

(2 Posts)
LeggyBlondeNE Fri 05-Oct-12 09:58:10

This is sparked by the 'good at things' thread but different enough that I thought it better to raise separately.

I'm generally a fan of schemes in Science which acknowledge that women are discriminated against (lower salaries right from post doc onwards according to an EU report! less chance of employment and lower estimated financial-worth from the recent identical-CVs study). Thus, having funding schemes which attempt to redress the balance is important until such time as the discrimination stops.

But there's also something bothering me about my school (yes, it's just high school, but that's where we need to get girls really dedicated to science careers). I won the Maths prize every year from 11-15 (just a piece of paper in those years). The other winner of the prize (always two winners in lower years) varied between three different boys. After our GCSEs at the big prize giving, two of those boys were awarded the Science prize and the Maths prize respectively. I won The Best Girl in Maths and Science.

While I can't imagine anyone in academia thinking that a Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship from the Royal Society is any less brilliant than a 'normal' research fellowship - because blimey! Royal Society funding! That's like academic gold dust! ... I remain bothered that for my year they didn't rename the 'best girl' prize to just 'in science' and award that to the girl who really was better than me at science, and give me that 'normal' maths prize.

So, to what extent are separate 'must encourage the girls' awards allowing stereotypes to perpetuate? And what could be done to both encourage the girls and NOT let the 'normal' vs 'female' thing remain entrenched? My uni are pursuing some gender-equality awards at the moment and I think it's consideration.

LeggyBlondeNE Fri 05-Oct-12 10:02:09

I should add, Dorothy Hodgkin fellowships are now open to anyone who has had their career affected by family considerations of any kind (my DH applied when he was relocating to be with me and pending baby, and leaving a very good position to do so). But it's predominantly still women who apply and whose careers tend to be more affected by family.

There are EU schemes for women-only.

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