As the academic year comes to an end, I’m asking for people’s reflections on their feelings about gender and university. At the start of the year, there was some great writing being published about sexism in freshers’ week in the national press, and it encouraged me to open up the subject on the blog, with a piece by Megan Clark and news from Nottingham about what made people uncomfortable (or outraged) and what was being done about it. A new Feminist Society formed at the university where I work, forged links with the Women’s Network and launched campaigns on various subjects.
This week Cat Humphries sent me the picture below, highlighting the kind of lazy sexism which greets women at the other end of the academic year. Just when it’s time to be proud of achievements and chill out, she found herself faced with images which suggested her role in higher education was to act as eye candy for men whilst serving them drinks. (Though not drinking any of the beer herself, obviously: the poster specifies that ladies will be offered Pimms’.)
So I’d like to invite anyone who studies or works at a university to send me their thoughts on the year and gender issues. Maybe you’re you’re a lecturer who can give a perspective on how things have changed for better or worse since your own time. Or a member of university admin or estates staff who can give insight into what it’s like in the public spaces of higher education between lecture halls and student bars. Or a first year who can look back on what you expected when you arrived and how that has altered. Or a second year, finalist or postgrad who can share what it all looks like the several-th time round. Or you’ve gone out into the World of Work beyond, and want to compare your university life to your present situation. I’d love to hear people’s ideas, thoughts and experiences. What can be changed, and how? How can next freshers’ week be less sexist for those arriving? Or what issues need to be tackled? I look forward to hearing from you.