Thursday, 19 August 2010

Musings on discrimination

Today I’m spending my time thinking about discrimination.

The first clear recollection I have of being discriminated against was when my Year 9 woodwork teacher wouldn’t let me study it in Year 10 (despite my A+ marks), because “you’d be the only girl in the room”... sucks to be you, woodwork teacher, I’m often still the only girl in the room AND I get to build stuff, mwahahaha...

Seriously, I know I don’t have as hard a time as a lot of the world’s population. However, an incident yesterday has made me more aware of the things that we often pass off as ‘not important enough to worry about’.

I applied to be part of a programme where young engineers go to schools and assist them with a technology-related project. While I have never harboured ambitions to be a teacher, I loved working with school tours at the sewage treatment plant... it was something we could all be enthusiastic about! The side benefit of this programme is that it can be credited towards achieving Chartered Engineer status – something that is important for my career.

I was rejected from the programme – the reason given is that my degree is not from New Zealand. Given that this same organisation has accepted my qualification for membership, this seems totally unreasonable. Most of these kids are primary school aged, so the specifics about where I studied would be irrelevant. I’ve worked with kids before. I speak English. I don’t need a visa. I am eligible for citizenship. I have no criminal history. I have enthusiasm for the programme (well, I *did*, anyway).

I have sent a response asking them to clarify *why* you need to have a NZ qualification, and *how* this is not discrimination. So, if they can explain it to me, I’ll be sure to pass on the answer to you guys.

This is sort of about me, but I’m trying to illustrate something broader – my theory is that the more “small things” we write off, the easier it is for people to accept the “big things”. Slippery slope, that kind of thing. I think we need to question these blanket rules.

What do you think – is this discrimination? Should we worry about the small things, focus our energy on the big things, or both?

(don’t worry, I’ll get back to some lighter posts soon!)


I received an apology (and an invitation to join the programme), and the response that it is expected that the engineers can advise students about the study pathways in New Zealand. Also that their criteria have "always" been that a graduate must have a NZ degree/diploma.

So the lessons I'm taking from this:
- If something doesn't seem fair, say something about it;
- If you have specific criteria for a position you advertise, you should probably make it available to the applicants;
- Be clear what your criteria REALLY are - in this case, it wasn't actually that you had to study in NZ, it was that you had to provide information on it (not quite the same thing).


  1. WTF? Es muy loco... Even if it *doesn't* count as discrimination (which *I* think it probably would), they should definitely have made it clear in their ads!! :S

    So are you going to join the program??

  2. I am going to join. I think more kids do need to know about careers in engineering... I didn't even know what it was until I was in Year 12.

    I think the problem is that the wording suggested you had be from NZ, but that's not necessarily what they meant. Also, that they didn't put the criteria anywhere.

  3. next time you come to melbourne during the term, you should come talk to some craigieburn kids about where they could go. they have such issues with motivation... and we won't care where your qualification is from :)

  4. Meegs, I'll take you up on that!


Other posts you might like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...