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Relaxation of gender discrimination rules

Comment 23rd July 2010

As a retired physicist and engineer and now chairman of a technology based museum I am keen to encourage year 9/10 girls to consider a career in science and engineering.

We had hoped to run a day programme with high quality women speakers from various areas of science and engineering (no problems here) and invite girls from local secondary schools to attend.

It appears that we cannot invite girls only to an event.

We cannot advertise a girls-only event in the local press.

The local press will not/cannot provide editorial for a girls only event.

There is clearly something seriously wrong here with legislation/regulations/rules. Please can something be done to make the situation more sensible without losing sight of gross gender discrimination?

Why does this matter?

The UK has a very low proportion of women scientists and engineers. There are many reasons but fundamentally it is a cultural problem. We need to do much more to encourage girls and young women at least to understand what a career in science or engineering entails and disabuse them of the stereotype images promulgated by the press and film roles.

Trying to do something in one corner of Britain, to bring greater understanding of the excitement of work in these fields, has exposed us to a minefield of restrictions. We have retreated to our lair and can only hope that someone with imagination in government can strip away the legislation which appears to be doing the opposite of what was originally intended.

We live in hope.

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