chapter  3
13 Pages

Equal Opportunities Without ‘Equality’: Redeeming the Irredeemable

WithVal Walsh

This chapter considers the problem of equal opportunities as a complex and contentious hybrid: its emotionality, its instrumentality, and its fatal flaw. It shows that the dilemma that is equal opportunities is complex and beyond control but not influence, as well as both ‘simple’ and daunting. The chapter argues that while equal opportunities as legislation often has to face the opposition of the powerful, it also founders on the bodies of those it is supposed to help. The ethical demand to set aside objective certainty to implement what appears to be a personal and political project is a steep one. Control and exclusion are obvious targets for equal opportunities action, and the solution once seemed simple: get in more women/black/disabled/working class academics. The accelerated entry of women into the workplace and the professions since the 1960s has produced an environment which carries over the sexual arrangements and distinctions in society.