Page 3 Profile: Louise Richardson, Principal of the University of St Andrews

 

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The Independent Online

No-girls allowed!

A popular refrain among nine-year-old boys, such mantras are usually dispensed with fairly quickly thanks to a combination of hormones and the fact that we are now living in the 21st century. But members of Scotland’s Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) appear to have remained resolute in their discriminatory attitude well into their twilight years. Professor Louise Richardson, the principal of the University of St Andrews, has said that she has been taunted by members of the Scottish town’s all-male golf club since she was refused admittance to the club because of her gender.

Sexism in sport is alive and well, then?

The American-Irish political scientist, whose specialist field is the study of terrorism, became the university’s first female principal in 2009. Honorary membership to the prestigious club – which is situated just 600 yards from the campus – is a traditional privilege afforded to those running the university, but upon Prof Richardson’s appointment, this tradition was promptly done away with. At the time, Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, attempted to persuade the club to bend its rules to grant her membership, but this was refused.

Who has time for golf when they’re running a university?

Prof Richardson, 56, explained how being barred from the club had made it harder to network with patrons and supporters of the university, hindering her job. She also claimed that some club members had taken to waving their club ties in her face to “draw attention” to her lack of membership: “They think that’s funny,” she said.

Talk about below-par behaviour…

The R&A has staunchly defended its practice of excluding women. Last year, Peter Dawson, its chief executive, insisted it wasn’t sexist to do so. However, following pressure from sponsors, the club announced earlier this year that it would hold a ballot of its 2,500 male members in September. The club’s committees are now said to be “strongly in favour of the rule change”, and have urged members to endorse it. This year’s Open Championships begin on Thursday at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Mr Salmond boycotted the event last year, condemning its men-only policy as “indefensible in the 21st century”.

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