Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gender biased golf clubs face EU ban



Having aired my scorn at the corporate golf culture in previous posts, it was with absolute delight that I read this morning’s Indo article title “Golf clubs to face EU ban under gender bias rules”. Imagine my chagrin then when I actually read the piece. Apparently there is a loophole to the new law, which is intended to outlaw gender based discrimination, and that is that, since it would allow for “freedom of association", and therefore by default, allow for single-sex organisations.

So in fact this new “ban”, coming into effect in December 2007, is utterly ineffective in weeding out that kind of “boys’ club” that has provided, for the major part, the glass ceilings faced by female managers in Irish corporate life.

The most famous example is of course our very own Portmarnock Golf Club (pah!), where it was ruled by the high court last summer, that upon payment of Green Fees, women could play but could not become members.

One of the things that most bothers me about this type of golf culture club is outlined in this article at The Post: the absolute hypocrisy of people in public life particularly our politicians, who on the one hand preach equality, and on the other tee off on the hallowed courses at Portmarnock.

Of particular note is former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne. Named in the same article dated from 2003 as a member (I have no idea if he continues to be a member), but just last month the Department of Justice was found guilty of paying 14 female clerical officers working for An Garda Síochana less their male Gardaí counterparts. I’m not saying that there’s a link, as I have no idea how long these claimants had been pursuing their case with the Equality Tribunal, but it is food for thought.

Also name-checked in The Post article, is Niall Crowley, head of the Equality Authority itself. He is not a member, but his brother and uncle were at the time the article was written. Again, food for thought.


Anonymous In Fact, Ah said...

Check out the Equal Status Act. There are all sorts of exceptions (some necessary in my opinion).

05 January, 2006 11:11  
Anonymous Winds said...

I wouldn't criticise Niall Crowley for the actions of his brother and uncle, first off...

Secondly, there is much criticism of male only golf clubs. I don't see quite so much criticism of female only gyms. To some extent, it doesn't hugely bother me - but what does bother me is if public money goes to them either directly or indirectly. Portmarnock is a case in point given that Bord Fáilte was a title sponsor of some golf championship (I think it was the Irish Open) when it was held there.

05 January, 2006 11:36  
Blogger planetpotato said...

I can understand the fuss about Portmarnock, because the implication has long been that this is a good place to do business. As such, refusing entry to women is a hinderence to furthering their position in business.

I don't understand a position that says that all clubs of a single sex are automatically wrong. All clubs are naturally discriminatory as they feature people with similar views. Why shouldn't they have a right to restrict who can join their club?

05 January, 2006 13:53  
Blogger Pampooties said...

Maybe I wasn't clear in my post- I do write these in work! I have no problem with clubs per se, and can understand that there are valid reasons why gender specific clubs can be allowed to exist.

As Planet Potato says though, the great and good of corporate Ireland, usually male, frequent these particular men only clubs, and thereby indirectly, and maybe unknowingly perpetuate the traditional barriers to the advancement of women in the Irish workplace.

Industries with lobbies, for example the Beverage Council of Ireland who represent the Drinks Industry here, also encourage this. I cannot comment on the amount of times I have received newletters from them, and similar organisations, advertising annual golf outings for members. How many corporate awards and incentives are handed out in the form of Green Fees? Sometimes, not always, the clubs attended are male only or have discrimiatory policies towards women in some form. Private clubs they may be, but the invidous "good golf = good business" trope which creates and is created by this practice does female executives no favours.

05 January, 2006 14:39  
Blogger Auds said...

As Planet Potato says though, the great and good of corporate Ireland, usually male, frequent these particular men only clubs, and thereby indirectly, and maybe unknowingly perpetuate the traditional barriers to the advancement of women in the Irish workplace.

So you want the government to legislate to protect golf playing women against the golf clubs who force them below the glass ceiling?
I appreciate that some women may be excluded from some extra-corporate activities - does this tangibly affect their career? Would a Pioneer woman not suffer the same discrimination for not getting drunk with the lads?

I welcome Portmarnock's male only policy the same way I'm glad Curves only has women in it or the ICA has a female only membership.

Our freedom to associate with like minded people is so basic and natural to the human condition that legislation not just destroys that freedom but cheapens the idea of free human relationships and equality.

10 January, 2006 16:42  
Anonymous copernicus said...

don't you mean "like-minded men"? Obviously, women can't be like-minded people.

11 January, 2006 01:30  

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