It’s the best time of your life, right?
University College London (UCL) has painted itself into a not so pretty corner. A few months ago, scientist, university professor, and 2001 Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt was forced to resign over sexist comments made at a global conference in Seoul. Hunt uttered this unfortunate phrase: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.”
Hunt, 72, had previously admitted to his reputation of being a chauvinist. This is hardly surprising; he is of a generation in which this flippant attitude towards women is entrenched. There was more than likely no malice behind this comment; Hunt stated afterwards that he was “very nervous” and “went mad up there.” But come on, you can’t be saying those things in 2015 and not expect a media (social and otherwise) storm. Understandably, the response was immediate and catastrophic.
What a social media storm it was! Hunt was described on Twitter as “a clueless, sexist jerk”; “a misogynist dude scientist”; and one tweet demanded that the Royal Society “kick him out.” Another tweet read: “Maybe if less male scientists were such chauvinist pigs there would be more women in science and technology Tim Hunt?” My personal favourite: “Why are the British so embarrassing abroad?”
Although many have said, including female scientists, that Hunt’s treatment at the hands of the university was unfair and histrionic, it is nonetheless expected. Generational or not; there is no way a man can escape very public consequences when making such comments, especially as the conference was for women in science. Of course UCL wanted to make an example of him; the last thing a nearly 200-year-old predominantly male British institution needs is a reputation for chauvinism.
The example would have been well and truly made, had claims not recently come to light that UCL actually pays female staff less than male staff at the Qatari campus. This claim was revealed after a string of emails in which a female staff member complained that married women were given a lower living allowance than married men. In addition to this, Qatari has actually admitted that the women on staff receive a lower salary. Female academics are reportedly earning up to 15 per cent less than their male compatriots. Top female academics earn about $4,800AUD less. On average, female university professors earn about $11,000AUD less than male professors.
UCL has admitted the mistake and sought to correct it. A spokesperson for UCL stated: “Clearly, this was never intended as an intentional policy and as soon as the anomaly came to light we took steps to rectify it. The policy change was backdated so that staff were not disadvantaged.” In other words, UCL is estimated to owe hundreds of thousands of pounds to its female employees, and if it wants to maintain the image of equal opportunity, it must honour this pledge.
Look, it’s fabulous that UCL is naming and shaming itself for this mess. However, the question that needs to be asked is how the HELL this payment policy managed to go unseen for such a period of time. I mean, really?! Academia is already a boys club; surely every educational facility in the world is on high alert for such policy discrepancies. To me, this is a case of two steps forward, one step backwards. I am a great believer in academia, at a tertiary level especially. But holy moly; if UCL, one of the most respected and (hopefully) progressive universities in the world has managed to sidestep this sexist policy for so long, then we still have A LOT of work to do.
Image via Stuff.co.nz
Being a woman is an expensive exercise; and our bloke folk are often blissfully unaware as to just how good they have it. Aside from the very frustrating and unjust fact that women still earn markedly less than men – the gender pay gap is 17.5 per cent – our living costs are excessive compared to men’s. For a start, generally men don’t have to worry about regular, expensive costs such as all-over body waxing, hair care and make-up. Then there’s the exorbitant costs of feminine hygiene products, Botox (if that’s your bag, baby) and regular beauty treatments, just to name a few. Sure, men still have to get haircuts, but I reckon my no-fuss husband is more the norm than the exception with his penchant for $10 barber jobs. And, hilariously, he is still extremely shocked and appalled every, single time at the high cost, by contrast, of my $160 cut and colour I get every eight weeks or so.
Then there’s the fact recent studies have shown women are charged more for everything from dry cleaning through to insurance premiums! And, let’s face it, it’s a rare man indeed who has a shoe or clothing wardrobe to rival ours! There are blurred lines between need and want, but if you’re fashion-forward, girlfriend ain’t going to be happy with just owning five pairs of shoes, like your average bloke. But the gender pay gap is still the grimmest statistic of all – a slap in the face for us university-educated women.
Mark McCrindle, social researcher, trends analyst and demographer at Sydney’s McCrindle Research, says Gen Y women are better educated than their male counterparts, but still don’t earn as much. “Women still aren’t getting paid as much as men and the challenge and the anomaly there is generally with education flows income,” Mr McCrindle says.“Gen Ys are the most formally educated women – 40 per cent of women aged 25-35 have uni degrees compared to 29 per cent of males in the same age category. In fact, one in three Gen Ys have a university degree compared with one in four GenX-ers. With more Gen Y women having university degrees than their male counterparts you’d expect them to be earning more, but we’re still not seeing that.”
So, sisters, if all this money talk leaves you feeling a little bitter and twisted, better make him pay for groceries/dinner/movies tonight, this month, or perhaps for the whole year.
By Nicole Carrington-Sima
Going back to any type of schooling after having children can be a daunting task. You may find yourself in over your head, especially if it’s been a long time since you last studied (and if your best subject at school was recess). Before enrolling yourself to any type of course, it’s important that you really examine if you have what it takes to successfully complete the course you have planned – especially if you still happen to have rugrats at home with you each day.
First, each and every one of us has a unique set of circumstances. Do you have a child or children that sleep through the night? Are you working? Are you in a relationship? These circumstances need to be properly analysed before looking into further education. If you barely have enough hours in the day for yourself right now then adding to that load might not be your best option. Even if you’re thinking about doing an online course, you will still need to find the time and energy to successfully complete it.
Secondly, look seriously at what you plan to study. If you didn’t finish high school, don’t rush into a university degree even though some distance education providers will let you enrol in undergraduate degrees without prerequisite qualifications. It may be be tempting but perhaps start with a foundation course to see how you’ll cope. Vocational courses may also be a better alternative for your circumstances.
You’ll also need to be interested and passionate about the content in order to stay focused. You may be lucky to drift through your course with no obstacles but you also may not be so fortunate. For example, what happens if your child or a family member gets sick? This is a reality many adult students face. When choosing a course, ask if they have an option to defer, just in case the need arises.
Thirdly, look at the study load. Universities offer part-time placements for a reason. A full study load of 4 units per semester will eat up an incredible amount of your time. On average each unit should be dedicated at least 10 hours per week. Can you spare a minimum of 40 hours per week for 3 years?
Finally, if you have a combination of realism, ability, persistence and determination, there is no doubt you will be able to succeed. Remaining focused, particularly during demanding times, is essential. Completing further education after having children can be exceptionally rewarding and, as your children watch you commit to your studies, you are inadvertently teaching them to do likewise. If you feel the time isn’t quite right, don’t give up. Your time will come.
By Kim Chartres