01/11/2013 05:24 GMT | Updated 01/11/2013 05:48 GMT

ITV Shuns Cambridge Union President Joanna Mobed For Being Female

ITV Shuns Cambridge Union President Joanna Mobed Because She Is A Woman

ITV told the president of a student debating society should could not appear on its programme because she was female, even asking her to find a man to take her place.

But the broadcasting company didn't stop there, specifying: "It would also be best if he was British."


Joanna Mobed, the president of the prestigious Cambridge Union Society, the debating club at Cambridge University, was left "disappointed" after being overlooked because of her sex.

Mobed was contacted by a researcher for the Alan Titchmarsh Show and asked to participate in a debate on reinstating national service. She would be pitted against her arch rival, the Oxford Union president, as part of the programme's "Daily Ding Dong" feature.

According to The Tab, the show's researcher Simon Gummer told her:"This afternoon I thought I had finally got everything sorted and would be able to come back to you with the debate motion and all the details, however my executive producer has decided she wants the debate to be a specific way so all my plans have got [sic] out of the window.

"She would like two men to debate the motion ‘this house would reinstate national service’ so would it be possible for you to find me a guy who would be willing to take part? It would also be best if he was British.”

Mobed said: "Being a woman should not disqualify me from speaking on that motion.

“I was also a bit surprised by the request for a British speaker. When debating, what matters is a person’s ability to think through and understand the issues involved.

“Gender and nationality should not be a consideration in this matter."

A spokesman for ITV said: “As a TV programme we cast contributors in accordance with the subject matter.

“For this particular item we wanted to debate the motion of reinstating national service for men and so we were looking to cast two men who would explore both sides of the argument.”

Cambridge Union members have previously been subjected to sexism; earlier this year Rebecca Meredith was booed and heckled out of Glasgow University's debating chamber, with students shouting "get that woman out".