Ending the headwear discrimination

In a recent post I pointed out that Irish universities maintain a curious discrimination at graduation ceremonies, compelling female graduands to wear mortar boards while men are not required, or even allowed, to do so. Well, I am happy to report that on Thursday of this week DCU’s Academic Council has put an end to this practice, and from now on the wearing of mortar boards will be optional for all graduands, male and female.

In the overall scheme of things this is a minor matter. And yet, since I wrote the original post, I have been told by many women graduates (some of whom commented in this blog) that they were told that women had to wear mortar boards to illustrate that their undergraduate degrees ‘capped’ their education. Even though I do not believe that the practice was initiated for this reason, it is nevertheless intolerable that anyone graduating should be led to believe that this might be the symbolism.

From now on it will be a matter of individual choice. As it happens, I hope that both men and women – or at least some of them – will wear the mortar boards. DCU is not a very traditional university, but just occasionally ceremonial traditions have some value, or at least provide some colour at such important moments in a person’s and an institution’s development.

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8 Comments on “Ending the headwear discrimination”

  1. Richard Says:

    A very positive move on the part of DCU. Personally I think the ceremony is important and therefore it is appropriate to retain the choice. My 4-year old daughter recently graduated from her Creche (!?) and herself and her fellow mini-graduands (boys & girls) all wore gowns and mortar boards.

  2. Vincent Says:

    Some traditions are downright nasty. Some irksome, others bothersome. The headgear thingy with the older Universities could come under all three.
    When the sons of Nathan Mayer could not attend Oxford and were only allowed to attend Cambridge but there they were not recognised.
    Victoria, could live in their houses in the south of France, and her son could owe vast amounts. But The Universities were denied the sight of them, it took an Act to change this situation.
    In the last 150 years many things have changed. In Ireland more than most. But remember the Act that Established you was grafted onto earlier University Acts. They did not bother going through the detail.

    Does DCU have a Mace, and if it does is there a Crown perched on it.


    • “Does DCU have a Mace, and if it does is there a Crown perched on it.” – Vincent, certainly not! On both counts!

      • Vincent Says:

        Well now don’t be so shocked. I had to ask. Imagine my shock on seeing my first University ceremonial at UCG that the head porter was carrying a chunk of imperial silver at the point of the procession. And I nearly had apoplexy on discovering the sculpted stonework from the top of the courthouse sitting to the west of the Aula.
        While, the Fogra could only be found in the deep within the Hardiman. And never though in my life I would see GeorgeIII in the PontUniMaynooth. Trinity, maybe, but Maynooth. Then there you go, at the foot of the stair leading to the library in the Pugin building, GeorgeIII.
        Anyhoos, was there a statute that you in Council needed to revoke. It was not just habit and watching too much ‘merican telly that had gotten a bit out of hand.

  3. TheChrisD Says:

    Well, I for one will gladly wear a mortar board at my graduation.

    That is if I actually manage to graduate within the next 5 years…

    Darn second year CA :(

  4. Joanne Says:

    When I graduated with my PhD from UCC I was the only female graduand who did not wear the ‘floppy cap’. According to my mother, who was seated in the gallery, I was quite the topic of discussion amongst parents as to why I had not donned the cap.


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