Woman cricket enthusiast claims discrimination in job rejection

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A cricket enthusiast was turned down for a top job in the sport because she was a woman, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.

A cricket enthusiast was turned down for a top job in the sport because she was a woman, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.

Maria Grant, 45, of Blackburn, Lancashire, is claiming sexual discrimination by the county's cricket board after she failed to make the short-list for the position of assistant secretary/development co-ordinator.

The tribunal, sitting in Manchester, was told that Ms Grant had been executive director of the Women's Cricket Association and a major force behind the development of women's cricket in the North-west for many years.

She told the hearing: "I have been involved in cricket for around 40 years, initially as a player and then for over 15 years in all aspects of the game and at all levels."

Ms Grant applied for the £24,000-a-year job after hearing about it from a male colleague in July 1999. She thought that she might be seen as over-qualified but applied anyway as it could have helped her achieve her ultimate goal of becoming the first female chief executive of a county cricket club.

She said: "I was astonished to find out I was not on the short-list and immediately suspected something had gone very wrong or that I had made some error in my application."

When she found she was not one of the eight out of the 30 candidates to be given a chance of an interview, Ms Grant wrote to the secretary of the Lancashire Cricket Board, David Edmundson, for feedback.

She said: "I realise that I have a reputation as a forthright campaigner for women in cricket and when I read Mr Edmundson's letter I began to suspect that my application had been rejected because I was regarded as unacceptable to the traditional elements who found it hard to accept that men's cricket could ever be properly administered by a woman."

She told the hearing: "Changing attitudes takes a long time and there remains a large and powerful group who maintain 'traditional conservative values' and who still regard cricket as a 'man's game' despite the fact that women have been playing since at least 1745."

In November, Ms Grant sought advice from the Equal Opportunities Commission and pursued her sex discrimination complaint. One of the cornerstones of her claim is that she was told that she was not a suitable candidate because she lacked knowledge of men's cricket.

The tribunal was adjourned until tomorrow.

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