Oxford University has had to scrap a women only fellowship – obviously so as a women only post is just as discriminatory as a men only one. And no, English law does not allow discrimination in this generation in order to make up for nor appease that in earlier. That’s not how the system works.
So, yes, this is the right decision:
Women-only Oxford fellowship hit by equality law
Well, no, it’s not been hit. What has happened is that the country is being made better by the eradication of a vile piece of gender discrimination.
Oxford University has opened a women-only fellowship to applications from male students to comply with the Equality Act, sparking a backlash from former recipients. The move threatens other research fellowships that could be found “discriminatory on the grounds of gender”, including funds awarded by Newnham College, Cambridge University, the only all-female undergraduate college. The British archaeologist and Oxford graduate David Randall-MacIver set up the Joanna Randall–MacIver junior research fellowship in the 1930s in memory of his wife. It funds women’s studies in fine arts, music or literature.
Now, we’d prefer a world in which people could do anything they damned well liked with their own money. But since that’s not the one we live in if we’ve got laws against gender discrimination then they’ve got to be applied against gender discrimination. And yes, women only posts – a fellowship is a post – are as discriminatory upon gender grounds as male only ones.
Or as we might put it, sauce for that gander is just as much sauce for any goose. Don’t like it? Be a little more careful about the laws you pass then.