Sexist in the City, Student.

Girls on top?

The fact that women receive 80% less bonuses than men in the UK’s top finance companies comes as no surprise. Following an official inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission the financial sector has been exposed as the sexist, male-dominated workplace that anyone acquainted with the extent to which gender inequalities are still rife in modern Britain could have guessed it to be. … continue reading this entry.


The Vagina Monologue, Student.

Vagina monologues

In its 10th year of U.K. performances one cannot help but ask, is The Vagina Monologues still relevant in a post-feminist world? After watching the opening night of the Monologues at the Edinburgh Playhouse the question can only be answered in the affirmative. … continue reading this entry.

The hole truth, Student.

The Ensler Orgasm

Vagina. There I said it. Yet it still resonates a feeling of ‘the unmentionable’ a decade after The Vagina Monologues was first published in Britain. … continue reading this entry.

Gaza Protest, Student.

UNIVERSITY OF Edinburgh students gathered in force last Thursday in protest against the continuing violence in Gaza.

Over two hundred students who expressed their contempt towards the violence and occupation of Gaza attended the protest, led by the Palestine Solidarity Society.

The protest began at 1.30pm in Bristo Square, which took a tour around the George Square campus. The protest was followed up with the organisers of the protest, from the Palestine Solidarity Society and representatives from the university’s Stop the War Coalition, and People and Planet, presenting an open letter, which was signed by students, to an MSP at the Scottish Parliament.
Students displayed anti-war signs and chanted “End the siege in Gaza. Ceasefire now!” as they called for an end to the bloodshed with an immediate withdrawal of Israeli military from Gaza.

Shabana Basheer, president of Palestine Solidarity Society and one of the main organisers of the events, was amazed with the amount of student support. She said “I think there were a lot of people who wouldn’t normally be moved to protest, but the level of feeling against the war in Gaza is so high that they wanted to make their voices heard.”

Students were eager to show their support for ceasefire in Gaza, and the large number remained peaceful. Police presence was felt to be excessive with around 20 police officers attending the protest equipped with video cameras and batons. Students felt ‘intimidated’ by the police presence. Humphrey Wood, a representative from People and Planet, said “police intervention prevented the protest from marching through Edinburgh and appearing in front of Scottish Government. In this light the police presence was extremely negative and lessened the impact of the protest to the general public and the Scottish parliament itself.”

Women in Black students also staged a women-only silent protest in the square on Wednesday afternoon. Women in Black is an international women’s group that is opposed to war and violence. It originated in 1988 when Israeli and Palestinian women held a vigil together in Jerusalem in an attempt to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

Hilary Cornish, the organiser of the Women in Black protest, stated that “the repeated call for peace is very powerful. Women in Black are trying to prevent the build up of a militaristic, hyper-masculine society, which constantly feeds into each other. Silent protests allow people to come to their own conclusions and can be very moving.”

The Palestine Solidarity Society are going to continue with their action by holding the Women in Black vigil and student protest every Wednesday and Thursday until ceasefire. Basheer stated that we need to keep “asking the Scottish Parliament to put more pressure on Westminster to do everything in its power to ensure an immediate ceasefire is put in place.”

For Barack Obama’s inauguration the Palestine Solidarity Society, along with other human rights groups in Scotland, will be performing a candlelight vigil that will commence at Bristo Square, finishing with a protest outside the US Consulate.

Hilary Cornish stated that the campaigning societies “need to do more to reach out to people who want to call for peace, but who mistakenly feel that calling for a ceasefire could be construed as condemning all Israelis or as offering support for Hamas. “

Smart kids liberally inclined, Student.

A STUDY conducted by the University of Edinburgh showed that those who vote for the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats are more intelligent than voters who vote Conservative, Labour or Scottish National Party (SNP).

The study compared the childhood IQ results of 6,000 people against their voting habits in the 2001 election. It showed that those who vote for either the Green party or the Liberal Democrats had a higher childhood IQ result, averaging at 108. This compared with a 103.7 average for those who voted for the Conservatives, 103 for those who voted Labour and 102.2 for those who voted for the SNP.

The least intelligent voters were found to be those who voted for the British Nationalist Party (BNP). They were rated as having an average IQ of 98.4, which was 1.3 points lower than those who did not even vote in the 2001 election.

The study showed that the more intelligent the person the more likely they were to vote for a liberal party. Consequently, the most intelligent voters do not influence the election results, as they tend to vote for the Green Party or the Liberal Democrats who fall behind Labour, Conservatives and the SNP in general elections.

The study also showed a strong correlation between high childhood IQ scores and an above-average interest in politics. It showed that the more intelligent a person the more likely they are to vote, as well as become involved in other forms of politics such as petitions and campaigns.

Harry Cole, the chairman of the Edinburgh University Conservative and Unionist Association, stated: “Well it seems the age old saying ‘if you vote conservative at 18 you have no heart but if you don’t vote conservative at 40 you have no brain’ has been disproved. Anyone with half a brain clearly votes Tory old or young!”

Comments on the Guardian website, however, showed a sceptical response to the results of the study. Dontmindme wrote, “Why do I suspect the construction of the study was performed largely by Green or LibDem voters,” which was replied with the comment by semajmaharg: “Because the others are too stupid perhaps?”

It’s a hard-knock life, Student.

THE LOOMING recession and the soaring food prices are hitting University of Edinburgh students hard. Students are resorting to increasing the number of hours they work, on top of studying for a full time degree, in order to make ends meet.

A report by the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) discovered that more than half of U.K. students now work during term time in order to meet basic living requirements. Those who study in Scotland are the students who most likely to work, with 67% of Scottish students holding a part-time job during term time.

The lack of government help is making university life increasingly difficult for students. In the U.K. student loans fall short of covering accommodation expenses, leading to the students bearing the burden of working to meet basic living costs while studying for a full-time degree. Surveys have found that students are mostly reliant upon financial help from parents, savings and government grants. However, it was leaked that the government have over-estimated their annual budget of £17 billion, by £100 million. The government is currently in deliberation as to make up this miscalculation by limiting of the number of student grants they promised to make available. If this cut happens, students are going to suffer considerably during the economic crisis.

Students in Scotland are already working on average 20 hours a week according to a financial survey conducted by the Halifax bank. This figure is five hours more than the recommended maximum number of hours a student should work per week. Research by Unicorn Jobs, a student focused careers agency, showed that students should work no more than 15 hours per week in addition to full time study, as working long hours has been proven to have a negative effect upon university education.

A recent study by the National Union of Students (NUS) showed that 59% of students surveyed felt that part-time work did adversely affect their studies. While 38% admitted that, they had missed lectures in order to attend work. The rising cost of living and the potential withdrawal of government aid will force students to put even more of their time into part-time work, which could have a catastrophic effect upon university students.

James Gribben, a fourth year politics student at the University of Edinburgh who is juggling a full-time degree with a part-time job states that “student loans do not cover flat rent and then I have bills on top of that. I would like to work more hours from the point of view that I would like more money because I am supporting myself through university. But I don’t have the time to give from uni work.”

Student life is becoming increasingly more strenuous as students are not only having to cope with moving away from home, but also have to manage a demanding work life balance that consists of academic work, paid work, society work and, if possible, a social life. Potential graduate employers are beginning to value society involvement and volunteer work, over regular part-time student jobs such as bar and shop work.

Niamh Ó Maoláin, second year Law student at the University of Edinburgh, believes that part-time work is an aspect of university life that helps to prepare you for the world of work after graduation. She stated that “part-time jobs can actually be really beneficial. You get used to a routine and learn how to get on in an office environment. Plus the money helps.”

The question is should students have to be forced into minimum wage jobs that do not give them essential skills particular to an area of work that they are interested in? Should students be inhibited from focussing on their degree due to a lack of government funding? The government’s motto was ‘Education, education, education’. Yet it is making university life financially more difficult for students, which is set to become more arduous with the looming economic crisis.

Smashing the glass ceiling, Student

Over thirty years after the Sex Discrimination Act was administered in the U.K. women still face sexual disparagement within the workplace. Shocking statistics recently revealed that the gender pay gap has widened, and that women in Scotland now earn 32% less than their male counter-parts.

Women make up half of the workforce, with around 13.6 million women employed in the U.K. Yet women’s work continues to be undervalued, with women treated as second-rate employees within society. It has been approximated that women are cheated out of £330,000 during their lifetime. It is irrational and detrimental to the workforce to discriminate against half of the skilled workforce.

Even though men and women are supposed to be equal citizens within society, men are much more likely to be given unjustified larger wages for the same number of hours as a woman, as well as being much more employable when it comes to the top occupational positions. Women currently represent only 11% of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 directorship positions and female MPs make up only 19.3% of U.K. parliament, according to the Sex and Power report published this year. Women are highly unrepresented in the top positions in society. This gender imbalance at the top is ensuring that women continue to be exploited by their employees and forced to endure unacceptable gender discriminate wages.

Change is at a stand still for recent graduates. Three years after university graduation women still earn 15% less than male graduates. With 40% of men earning above £25,000 three years after their graduation, compared to only 26% of women. In education, women are expected to pay equal tuition fees and receive the same education as men. Yet once women leave University and enter into the workplace they are discriminated against purely based upon their gender. This pay inequality is making it increasingly difficult for women to pay off their tuition fees and various student loans. The gender pay gap that is still prevalent throughout society is not encouraging women to invest within their future and continues to make education economically unattainable for women.

Female graduates are not the only women within society who are feeling the burden of being a part of the female sex. Mothers are being further penalised by the sexism that is prevalent within the job industry. The unequal paternity and maternity laws, means that women are encouraged (some may say forced) to be the main caregiver. This disruption in women’s careers, plus the added pressure of profit driven bosses and their negative attitude to women, pregnancy and maternity leave, means that women suffer. They are often forced to go part-time for unreasonable pay and in some cases leave their jobs to go into less skilled and low paid part time jobs. With childcare expenses, soaring and women’s pay considerably less than men’s pay; women are forced into the acceptance of low wages during motherhood when women need financial support the most.

The Equal Pay Act that first came into force in 1970 was a government attempt to eliminate gender pay discrimination, but the fact that the pay gap is still an issue shows that law is not going to make the crucial difference to women’s lives. A recent survey showed that 29% of women believe that the gender pay gap will never be eliminated, highlighting that something more needs to be done in the U.K.; the European country with the widest gender pay gap.

There have been remarks that pay secrecy allows pay discrimination to thrive within the workplace. Yet an invasion of privacy and the exposure of corruption will not make sexism within the workplace disappear. We need to take a more radical approach to sex discrimination and attempt to change the cultural attitudes towards women in education and the workplace. We need to ensure that women’s work is not disparaged. That women are not continued to be seen as secondary citizens. That women are not stereotyped as being the main child carer. Women are essential to the workforce and need to be treated with the same respect that is shown to their male counterparts. In times of economic crisis such as these we need to encourage the development of the workforce to ensure that the economy continues to progress. The only way we can progress the work force is by changing cultural attitudes and by eliminating exploitation so that both men and women are paid equally for the hours that they work.

Victory for student campaigners after drinking age protest, Student

UNIVERSITY OF Edinburgh students and opposition MSPs successfully put a halt to the Scottish Nationalist Party’s (SNP) plans to increase the legal drinking age by joining forces outside the Scottish Parliament last Thursday.

The protest saw a collection of young people and MSPs gathering to display their opposition to the stigmatisation of young people through speeches against the proposals and by chanting “citizen, not criminal”.

The SNP launched their radical approach to tackling alcohol misuse and alcohol-related crime by getting tough on the 18-21 year olds who they believe to be at the cause of the problem. The SNP’s Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill supported the policy stating that “we can no longer sit back and let alcohol misuse continue to take its shocking toll on our criminal justice system, health service and economy.” According to the SNP website alcohol misuse costs Scotland’s tax payers £2.25 billion a year.

This extremist policy united students, young people and MSP’s in opposition to the SNP. Mike Pringle, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh South, said “These proposals are a reactionary and misguided move by the SNP Government, designed to appear tough rather than solve the problem.”

He continues “surely Scotland should not become a place where at age 18 you can bravely fight for your country, or vote in an election, but are not trusted to buy a bottle of wine to enjoy with friends over an evening meal or a couple of beers to watch the match with?” It seems that most politicians agreed with Pringle’s stance as 72 MSPs voted against the motion on Thursday evening, defeating the SNP’s proposals with a majority of 72 to 47 votes.

Tom French, former University of Edinburgh student and co-ordinator of the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS), submitted a 10,000 signature petition against the policy and led the protest at the Scottish Parliament. He labelled the SNP’s proposals as ‘daft and discriminatory’ and said the proposal is “a gimmick to make the SNP appear tough on crime and order.”

French thanked everyone who participated in the CARDAS campaign after the results from the debate were announced, stating on a Facebook message that “We’ve won an overwhelming victory and it is down to each and everyone of you. Thank you.”

Tough times for landlords, Student

EDINBURGH’S RENTAL boom is coming to an end and tenants are set to take back control from letting agents and landlords.

The nationwide rental boom, caused by the ever-looming credit crunch and the crashing of the property market, saw many tenants coming under stress and financial exertion due to a higher demand for rental properties than houses available.

The house market crashed earlier this year with house sales descending to a 30 year low and mortgage approvals down by 71%. First time buyers were put under particular strain with their weekly mortgage costs rising by 21% and mortgage companies insisting on large deposits for them to get on the property ladder. Many people were forced to turn to renting as a product of the turbulent property market conditions.

This increasing demand for rental properties meant that landlords and letting agency were able to discriminate against tenants. According to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) rent on flats increased by 7% between May and August, making the average flat rent in the U.K. £253 per week. As well as a nationwide rent increase, landlords also began to demand extortionate deposits and produced biased contracts for tenants to sign.

The rental boom is finally set to come to an end, with the wheel coming full circle. Peter Grant, co-founder of Edinburgh letting agents Grant Management, states that “there are more properties available to rent. Owners are not able to sell so they are turning to letting out”. This increase of prospective rental properties on the market means that there is more competition for landlords and consequently more choice for prospective tenants.

Peter Grant continued “the supply has gone up and the demand has gone up”, concluding that the rental market has reached an equilibrium of properties and prospective tenants. He did warn that students should not take a back seat in searching for rental properties, stating that students will get the best deal for their money if they “think ahead and get organised”.

Letter, Student.

Dear Harry,

We were rather disappointed with the deprecating comments that you made towards left-wing women that were printed in Student 23/9/08.

We do wonder how can one advocate that ‘Life is better under a Conservative’ with the superficial reasons that you gave to support the statement and through your encouragement of sexual exploitation and the objectification of women.

To encourage an advertisement that alludes to women being subordinated sexually by men with the tagline that ‘Life is better under a Conservative’, not ‘under the Conservatives’ is extremely shocking. It is not a poster that is promoting a better life for modern women, but as a means to con women into accepting a secondary place to men.

Life is not better ‘under a Conservative’ and we much prefer the ‘woman on top’. You should try it; you might even like it.

With kindest regards,

Women of the World.

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