Women achieve a lot in education. In fact, by the time they get to college they do better than men. What does this mean? And why is this important? It means that in my profession at least, we’re spending huge amounts of time looking at who succeeds in education, what happens after, and what we should be doing about it.
There are still gender learning stereotypes which are entirely unfounded, such as, contrary to what you may have heard, it doesn’t matter if you’re taught by a man or a woman when you’re young. And women do just as well at maths as men. And yet… does this mean women get where they want to be? Well, think about this: 80% of local authority jobs are held by women, often in caring / administrative or other ‘low level’ roles; women generally earn 20% less than men ( Please comment on any of these figures ). You can reverse these figures when you talk about top jobs: only 10% of science professors are women; 20% of judges; internationally, there are probably fewer heads of state than you might think. You catch my drift.
So what is being done about this disparency? I’m proud of my profession here. We’ve had Now and Wow courses, the Dip HE and foundation courses; Credit accumulation and transfer and APL ( to make it easier to get a degree – why not look these up? ) and assertiveness courses for women. More widely, various political parties are introducing all-women shortlists to get more female M.P’s. And the civil service has recently reduced its use of all-male selection panels as part of their ‘talent action plan’.
How widespread is this problem of job inequality, though? Internationally, 60 million girls and young women will not have received any formal education. On a purely financial level, the cost of NOT educating women is at least 93 billion pounds. Think of the lost opportunities here.
What can be done about all this? I will always recommend education as a liberating, facilitating, and progressive force. One of the ( few ) benefits to come out of the miners’ strike in South Wales was that many of the women who gained experience organising their communities went on to become qualified academically. So, educate, persuade and demonstrate to those around you about the advantages of education as you know it. It may not come quickly or even in an obvious way but as an experienced teacher I can guarantee that many things that are learned ‘weave their magic’ later on. In the case of gender inequality social mindsets and governments need to change. People need to change. And only this magic of education will bring that.
My last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. Prior to that, I worked in schools, colleges, adult education and the Arts, including a period as a local authority inspector. I'm going to make myself busy trying to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested.