Sex

Sex (or gender) is the protected characteristic that refers to men and women. Under the Equality Act, men and women are protected from direct and indirect discrimination and harassment – whether it is perceived, actual or associated.  This would cover students (prospective, current or past), staff (potential, current or past) and visitors to the University.

Example:

An employer recruits a man rather than a woman because it is assumed that women do not have the strength to do the job.  This would be direct sex discrimination.

Example:

A female student is refused entry onto an advanced course in landscape design because she could not meet the entry requirement of recent experience of working in the sector.  The student had a period of time out of employment due to having a child.  This may be unlawful indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex.

Example:

A company operates a voluntary redundancy scheme which provides enhanced terms to women aged 55 or older and men aged 60 or older. A woman of 56 is able to take advantage of the scheme and leave on enhanced terms but a man of 56 cannot do this. The company argues that their scheme is based on the original state pension age of 60 for women and 65 for men. The scheme discriminates because of sex against the male workers.  The company cannot rely on an external policy which is itself discriminatory to excuse this discrimination, even though that external policy in this case may be lawful.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team (email: equality-diversity@bristol.ac.uk or tel: 0117 33 18087) can provide specific advice to colleagues on this area of equality, as it applies to staff to staff and students.