Sydney University Releases Scholarship Preferencing Male Applicants
Sydney University has released a new $27,000 scholarship for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students that gives preference to male applicants.
The offer was emailed to veterinary students on February 2nd advertising The Professor Marsh Edwards AO Scholarship. The email stated the eligibility requirements, which read, “preference will be given to applicants who are: … male.”
Excerpt from the email
Women veterinary students were horrified at the discriminatory eligibility requirements of the scholarship. A female Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student came forward to speak to the Sydney University Women’s Officers, saying, “when I read the scholarship, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought it had to be a mistake. It makes me think that they care more about money than my right to equal opportunities.”
"Female graduates of vet school are still paid less, from day one," she said.
"I just think it shows very little thought into the causative agents of underrepresentation of women in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths]. The barriers that prevent men from entering vet science are not the same barriers that prevent women from entering nearly every other academic discipline. Men are not being prevented from entering veterinary medicine because of some social, political or economic barrier of oppression.”
The Women’s Officers contacted the University for comment as to why the scholarship favoured male applicants. One staff member replied, “there are some scholarships that we have which are only acceptable by Aboriginal students. So technically these discriminate themselves. But based on the charitable status of the University we are allowed to discriminate.”
This comment did not satisfy the Women’s Officers, who noted that despite the fact that the exemption in the law may exist, it does not mean the university should willingly pursue it, or be complacent about discrimination.
University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council co-Women’s Officer, Imogen Grant, states that “it is completely inappropriate to draw equivalence between scholarships for Aboriginal students and male students. Scholarships exist to alleviate structural barriers to receiving an education, and preferencing male applicants reinforces the gender divide.”
“Just because something resides within an exemption within the law, does not mean that is how the law should be implemented. It is no excuse for the University to be complacent about discrimination.”
“Making gender a deciding factor between applicants illustrates that a woman’s right to an education is not as important as her male counterparts. The fact that the University has no problem with offering a scholarship that excludes women calls into question whether they are truly committed to combatting sexism on campus.”
Grant also commented on the fact that financial issues are one of the main factors students consider when deciding whether or not to pursue study. She made reference to the fact that discriminatory scholarships like these that facilitate the study paths of those already benefitting from institutional privilege may lead women to “self-exclude”.
The University of Sydney Women’s Collective is calling on the University to remove “male” from the eligibility requirements and send a clear message to all students that sexism and discrimination on campus is unacceptable.