Simone Webb is a seventeen year old student hoping to take up the offer she has received from Oxford University to study PPE. In order to gain some experience working in journalism, and because she admired the magazine, she was happy to be an unpaid intern for one month at DIVA, a glossy magazine aimed at lesbians and bisexuals. This had been offered to her. But Simone had a small problem: while she was fortunate that her parents could support her at home, meaning that she was in a position to be able to carry out unpaid work, the cost of travel to the offices of DIVA, £5 a day, were beyond her means.
Not unreasonably Simone emailed the editor of the magazine, Jane Czyzselska, and asked if the travel expenses could be reimbursed. Given it was such a small amount she was asking for and because she was prepared to work for no pay, it was also not unreasonable to expect the magazine to comply with the request. The response she received back is astonishing. Not only was her request for £5 a day expenses refused, they informed her that they were “uncomfortable offering you an internship when you are so young and without an independent budget of your own.”
As Simone has commented, the argument about her age can be dismissed as at least two interns at the magazine in the last year have been sixteen, which is even younger than she is. This means, in plain English, that the magazine is unhappy offering an internship to poor people. I find it difficult to accept that this is anything but discrimination. Noting some recent articles that the magazine has published, one wonders what the editor of the magazine would have said if a different magazine had sent an email to a prospective intern saying that they were unhappy offering a position to a lesbian. Discrimination is discrimination and the editor of DIVA should not forget that this is so.