Blessing in disguise

April 21, 2000

You report an employment tribunal ruling that it constitutes sexual discrimination to make participation in the research assessment exercise a condition of employment because fewer women than men take part in it ("Doctor wins LSE sex bias case", THES, April 14).

If job applicants who show RAE potential are favoured, then this can only be good news for those who have yet to have the opportunity/talent/inclination to prove themselves in research.

The question is whether women who (it is claimed) are busy cuddling students and avidly volunteering for extra teaching loads are willing to learn to manage their time better so that they can engage in research, which is a core component of the academic job description.

The RAE has been a blessing and provided me with a degree of upward mobility I suspect would have been rare before. While some colleagues may well be wasting time attempting to link teaching success to the length of a lecturer's skirt, fumbling about for less-than-witty references to evening primrose oil, and wishing they could cuddle up long-term to the nearest student, I am off doing research.

Although the extent to which females are rewarded for research could doubtless stand improvement, to say that the use of research as a measure is sexist is, well,sexist.

Amanda Perry, Centre for energy petroleum and mineral law and policy, University of Dundee

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