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GOC equality data shows more women entering optical professions

15 Mar 2010

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Increasing numbers of women and practitioners of Asian ethnic origin are entering the optical professions, according to new equality and diversity data released today by the General Optical Council (GOC). The results are published in the GOC’s 2009 equality and diversity monitoring report. This is the first time the Council has published such a report.

Last year, equality and diversity monitoring forms were included in retention packs sent to all registered optometrists and dispensing opticians, and all student registrants. The requested information covered ethnicity, age, gender and disability details.

In total, 12,157 out of 17,870 full registrants returned their monitoring forms - a response rate of nearly 70 percent. Responses were also received from 1,162 of 4,512 student registrants.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Dian Taylor, said: “We are really pleased with the excellent response we’ve had from registrants for the data-gathering process in its first year. This allows us to have a high degree of confidence in our data. Getting monitoring right will provide valuable information about trends in the optical professions. Over time, we will be able to build a rich and detailed picture of developments in the professions. We are actively encouraging all our registrants to participate in the monitoring in the future.”

Other findings from report include: there are higher proportions of female dispensing opticians than optometrists, and optometrists are significantly younger on average than dispensing opticians. The report also includes preliminary analysis of general data for registrants who were the subject of a fitness to practise complaint in 2009.

Dian Taylor added: “The information we have received over the last year demonstrates the importance of gathering equality and diversity data, and this will help us identify any unintended barriers that might exist in the optical professions for particular groups of people. We can then take action to remove those barriers. It can also highlight areas where more public information or professional training might be required.”

In 2010, the GOC will be sending monitoring forms to all registrants who have not already responded, and to new registrants. In the future, the GOC plans to collect a broader range of equality and diversity data, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion and political beliefs. This will reflect the requirements of the planned Equality Duty legislation.

The full 2009 equality and diversity monitoring report is available to download from the GOC’s website,


For media enquiries please contact:
Clare March
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3473

Notes to editors: 

1. 66% of student registrants responding to the GOC monitoring were female, and women made up 56% of responses from all full GOC registrants.

2. While those of Asian origin currently make up only 23% of all full registrants (with 74% being White), almost half (49%) of all student registrants responding to the monitoring were of Asian origin.

3. 58% of fully-registered dispensing opticians were female, against 56% of optometrists. 71% of student dispensing opticians were female, against 63% of student optometrists.

4. The majority of dispensing opticians responding to the monitoring were aged between 35 and 54 years old (57%), compared to 45% of optometrists. 41% of optometrists were under 35 years old, relative to only 28% of dispensing opticians. Additionally, 44% of student dispensing opticians were 25 years old or over, relative to just 14% of student optometrists.

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