Nicola Dandridge explains


See update below.

Wow. Nick Cohen talked to Nicola Dandridge about this whole “it’s ok to gender segregate university debates at the behest of theocrats” idea for a piece in the Spectator.

Why not go further? Why not segregate all lectures at universities? Or as, I said to Dandridge, why not segregate by race?

Well she replied, Universities UK cannot recommend racial segregation because Parliament has banned it – wisely it now seems.

What about speakers insisting that homosexuals sit on one side of a hall and heterosexuals on another?

Dandridge appeared to find that notion genuinely discomforting. She did not want to see gays singled out, she said. Not in the least.

‘What’s your problem with women, then?’ I asked. ‘Why should they come last?’

‘Because,’ she replied, ‘gender difference is visible.’

So there you have it. If women did not insist on growing breasts and wearing their hair long, Universities UK would treat them with greater care.

Ohhhhhhhh – so it’s quite all right to discriminate among people for reasons that are visible. Now I understand. (But then why did Parliament ban racial segregation? Just a whim? Dandridge must be mystified about that.)

As I spoke to her, I realised that she had no understanding that powerful groups segregate to humiliate their targets and to enforce their ideologies. One of the academic critics of Universities UK gave an example I had never heard of to emphasise the point.

In the 1930′s Poland began to enforce segregated seating in its universities, with Jewish students restricted to the left side of the lecture hall. This, of course, allowed lecturers to address and take questions only from the right side if they were so inclined. Polish students of all religious persuasions protested by refusing to sit down in lectures. We can only hope that modern students will also protest.

Let’s hope they do. But they will protest without the support of vice-Chancellors or the appalling leadership of the National Union of Students.

I think Nick saw that example here. He reads B&W of course.

Update December 5

Maureen pointed out a CV of Nicola Dandridge that has since been removed (but is still available in the cached version) so here it is for the record. She’s a specialist in equality. Yes that’s right.

dandridge

Nicola has been Chief Executive of Universities UK since September 2009. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, UUK now has 134 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, promoting the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally.

Nicola was previously Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit, the higher education agency which promotes equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Formerly a partner and head of equality at Thompsons Solicitors, the UK’s largest firm of solicitors acting for the trade union and labour movement, Nicola qualified as a lawyer in England and initially worked in the City specialising in industrial relations, before qualifying in Scotland and working in Glasgow for 10 years. She has published numerous books and articles on equality and the law, and has also worked for the European Commission on equality initiatives in Europe.

Comments

  1. catof many faces says

    wow, how can she be so obtuse?

    I expected better from someone associated with the universities… sad

  2. Al Dente says

    Racial differences are usually as identifiable as gender differences. If there weren’t a law against racial discrimination then apparently Dandridge would be good with racial segregation. She does seem to be clueless about the concept of equality.

  3. quixote says

    :boggled:

    :completely boggled:

    Does she know how to tie her shoelaces? Does somebody cut up her food for her?

  4. John Morales says

    quixote, come on… you do realise that this interview is with the job-holder, not with the person, right?

    (She did not achieve her position by being a dolt)

  5. Anthony K says

    I have to admit that not so long ago, I’d have been in Nicola Dandridge’s headspace. But I understand the issue better thanks to your writing on it, Ophelia.

    And I agree with John. I think she’s forced into being the mouthpiece for an administration that’s with an indefensible policy.

  6. suttkus says

    Look, if gender segregation were actually a problem, Parliament would have banned it like they did with racial discrimination. Not banned, so not a problem. Of course, before Parliament past the law banning racial segregation, there was no such law, so clearly that wasn’t a problem, and there was no reason for Parliament to pass the law banning racial segregation and turning it into a problem, which may or may not have retroactively made it a problem prior to the law being passed. So Gender segregation could be a problem now, but we won’t know until later when we see if Parliament bans it. LOGIC!

  7. John Morales says

    [meta]

    suttkus, it’s possible that you’re attempting a witticism, so perhaps I’m being humourless when I note that not only are you conflating (that particular sense of) discrimination with segregation, but that extant UK legislation already prohibits gender, race, disability and age discrimination.

  8. deepak shetty says

    Because,’ she replied, ‘gender difference is visible.’
    That doesnt even make sense no matter how hard I try to think of a way to interpret it.

  9. maudell says

    I’m in a nitpicky mood…

    The UUK text says that segregation is ok for ‘genuinely held religious beliefs’. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m sure they would be super accommodating in genuine Raelian believers. They believe women should not wear any clothes in some of their meetings (the clothed women would be an affront to their belief).

    I was also thinking (I suspect I’m not the first to think this)… If Dandridge is appalled by race and sexuality segregation… Is it ok to segragate a gay Roma woman? I’m sure there’s a rationalization somewhere.

    So many questions…

  10. Argle Bargle says

    Maureen Brian #9

    Thank you for giving a link to Dandridge’s professional biography. Since she was a lawyer specializing in equality, then she knows that UUK’s official policy would probably be shot down if it ever reached a court.

  11. Shatterface says

    Because,’ she replied, ‘gender difference is visible.’

    So segregating black people from white people would theoretically be more acceptable than segregating white British people from white Irish or Polish people and whether or not you segregate Gypsies would depend on how they’re dressed. Hasidic Jews could have a corner to themselves.

  12. Shatterface says

    quixote, come on… you do realise that this interview is with the job-holder, not with the person, right?

    Bad faith isn’t a defense.

  13. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    ‘Because,’ she replied, ‘gender difference is visible.’

    And “racial” difference isn’t?
    I always thought racism was discrimination based on superficial but very noticeable visible differences. Itseems I am mistaken.
    However, if I ever find myself in such a situation, the fact that I am over six feet tall, have a baritone voice and a beard will not stop me exercising my rights/ duties as a woman. If the organisers try to stop me I will insist that my credentials are closely examined bya believing woman.

  14. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Hasidic Jews could have a corner to themselves.

    Unfortunately, many hasidic jews would probably want a corner to themselves.

  15. smhll says

    The whole’ visible’ difference argument the spokesperson made is just a slippery invitation to subject gender ambiguous people to an extra layer of crappy treatment. How not awesome that is.

    Stop putting people in boxes, eh, and stop acting like the box is >> the person.

  16. Dave Ricks says

    Maureen Brian, thank you for that link to Nicola Danbridge’s online profile as a NCUB council member, but when I click on that link today I get

    We can’t find that page!

    You asked for http://www.ncub.co.uk/about/council-members/nicola-dandridge/, but despite our computers looking very hard, we could not find it. What happened ?

    • the link you clicked to arrive here has a typo in it

    • or somehow we removed that page, or gave it another name

    • or, quite unlikely for sure, maybe you typed it yourself and there was a little mistake ?

    Evidently that link worked for you and Argle Bargle yesterday, but not today.

  17. Maureen Brian says

    That’s very strange, Dave Ricks. It doesn’t work for me now either though I first found it over a week ago and linked to it only later – when it was still up.

    Someone at CIHE and/or NCUB is either terribly assiduous or a bit scared, because a search on either set of initials + Dandridge looks as if it’s going to take you to a page or PDF but always brings up the “no such page” message – even what look like bog standard accounts of events she attended.

    Very, very mysterious.

  18. Argle Bargle says

    The link doesn’t work for me now. I suspect someone, possibly even Dandridge herself, thought a lawyer with experience in equality law should not be caught spouting nonsense about discrimination and so hid the evidence.

  19. says

    I updated the post to add the bio. Here it is again –

    Nicola has been Chief Executive of Universities UK since September 2009. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, UUK now has 134 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, promoting the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally.

    Nicola was previously Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit, the higher education agency which promotes equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Formerly a partner and head of equality at Thompsons Solicitors, the UK’s largest firm of solicitors acting for the trade union and labour movement, Nicola qualified as a lawyer in England and initially worked in the City specialising in industrial relations, before qualifying in Scotland and working in Glasgow for 10 years. She has published numerous books and articles on equality and the law, and has also worked for the European Commission on equality initiatives in Europe.

  20. Lamia says

    “I think she’s forced into being the mouthpiece for an administration that’s with an indefensible policy.”

    How is she being forced? Is someone holding a knife to her throat?

    Dandridge is an unprincipled scumbag and she illustrates how the ‘equality’ industry is no stranger to patriarchal religious apologists and bigots.

    For instance, take Tim Parsons who contributed this comment on the New Statesman site: “There is a simple and straight forward conflict here between the atheistic secular liberals who dominate our governing elite and major news organisations, and the religious majority who are appalled at the decadence and decline in Western society.”

    Believe it or not, that’s the same Tim Parsons who is “a former Chief Inspector in the City of London Police where he held the post of Head of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights.”

  21. Salman says

    This is a prime example of academics and legal experts pitted against ‘useful idiots’ fired up by right-wing zealots trying to paint a picture of Mozelems coming and taking over Britain with their evil seating plans. That’s right, ignore the tedious issues like logic (it’s not discrimination if men and women are being treated the same – use your brains please) and the law (you cannot ban men and women sitting how they like, no matter how much you hate their desired seating preferences); just tout the headlines of apartheid and discrimination that your masters have given you.

    OR, you could choose to think objectively and not assume that Muslims have a 1400 year old secret hatred of women.

  22. says

    Bullshit, Salman.

    One, that claim that “it’s not discrimination if X and Y are being treated the same” was how racial segregation and Jim Crow laws were justified in the US South after the failure of Reconstruction. It’s “separate but equal” and it was exploded by the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education.

    Your claim about the law is ridiculous; it’s the segregation that tells people where to sit, not the absence of segregation. Think about it. You get on a bus; where do you sit? Wherever you want to where there’s an empty seat. You don’t have to pretend half the bus is off limits to you. That’s sitting how you like.

    People at unsegregated university debates are free to try to clump together with other women or men. They’re not free to demand that other people do the same.

    I notice you’re completely ignoring the existence of Muslims who want no part of this segregation. That’s odd, isn’t it. Surely you don’t think all Muslims are Islamists do you?

  23. says

    it’s not discrimination if men and women are being treated the same…

    Sexual segregation means men go to one place, women to another — that alone means they’re not treated the same. Use common sense please.

  24. Salman says

    I don’t have a clue who you people are I just stumbled across this site when googling Nicola Dandridge – I have no interest in convincing you I was merely offering a logical point of view which seems to have gotten lost in all this rhetoric. My mistake.

    I will still clarify (I am a bit OCD when it comes to logical fallacies so I must indulge): the ‘wrong’ thing about racial segregation was the blinking white supremacy that led to the Jim Crow laws, and the fact that people were forced, NOT the literal manifestation in different toilets. I really cannot believe I actually had to write that. If merely having different facilities for men and women then by all means be the next Rosa Parks and liberate your fellow woman from the shackles of not being allowed into the next mens’ toilets you come across. Is that still “gender apartheid” or is that a phrase reserved for when only Muslims provide it?

    As for your dig at my point about the law – I know I’m not a legal expert, but the swathes of legal experts that UUK have had (and are still having) a look through their report would know a thing or two about it, please direct your well-articulated rebuttal to them, I’m sure they’ll take it seriously.

    In short, if you don’t like the fact that Muslims are allowed to provide separate seating for those who ask for it, then YOU go somewhere else and let everyone else live and let live. IF, on the other hand you were under the false impression—despite clarification after clarification after clarification by UUK—that this has anything to do with enforcing segregation on those who don’t want it, and you’re not in reality a bunch of right wing zealots, then.. well, now you know, so please stop acting like it.

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