I don’t whether it was watching Emma Watson’s UN speech or interviewing Linda Papadopoulos, but recently I’ve found myself mulling over the issues of gender inequality and female education. Gone are the days when females were excluded from secondary school and university places; in fact, according to UCAS almost 58% of students applying for places at British institutions this year were female. Yet as I write about courses all day, I began to wonder whether a silent stereotype still applies to some subjects? And are females less likely to get jobs in certain industries because, well, they are girls.
Maths, engineering and physics are all typecast as male dominated subjects. With this in mind I turned to Henry, the company’s wonderful analytics executive, who looked back over the past month to find out whether this was true for our users.
Albert Einstein said, ‘Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas’. Unlike the poetry of Shakespeare and Shelley, the mathematical poem is one verse women have historically been excluded from. Whether it’s algebra or long division, teenage girls are often persuaded that being a whiz at math makes you a nerd. However times are changing and our female users seem to be speaking the iambic pentameter of numbers more than ever. From a Sudoku on the underground, to solving the problem of the the prime number, the art of problem solving is no longer male dominated. Hotcourses stats prove that 74% of math course bookings over the past month have been made by females.
The application of science and economic knowledge, engineers are behind the infrastructures, machines and devices we use in our day to day lives. Using formulas to design, maintain and improve structures, engineering has been typically thought of as a man’s world. Yet according to our stats, 44% of the students signing up to engineering courses all over the country were female.
Engineering can be broken down into four main branches; chemical engineering is the application of physics, chemistry and other principles to carry out chemical processes. Civil engineering deals with the design and construction of public and private works, so these engineers are the brains behind the airports, roads and railways we use. As one of the oldest sectors of engineering, our statistics show that only 23% of our female users chose to study on a civil engineering course. Despite this, hope must not be lost, for when it comes to construction engineering – a mix of civil engineering and construction management, women are back in the game. As a matter of fact, 55% of the applicants in the past month have been female.
Electrical engineering is the design and study of electrical systems and mechanical engineering deals with power and energy systems, engines, aircrafts and transportation. Both of these sectors of engineering have only attracted around 30% of female users in the past month. Whether this is because females didn’t want to specialise, or just couldn’t choose before learning about the industry, it seems that being a girl means nothing to our empowered users when it comes to entering the engineering profession.
Gailileo, Newton and Einstein all have one thing in common. Historically physics was for the intellectual men who studied the stars and theorised the galaxy. As we reach the 21st century, once again modern women are beginning to question this. Without quoting lines from a Beyoncé song, girl power seems to be spreading to the study of electrons and x-rays, with 46% of our female users signing up to physics courses in the past four weeks.
On the other hand, it is vitally important to remember that gender inequality is not just an issue that women struggle with and the struggles that come with ‘being a man’ are just as controversial. The expectations placed on a man’s shoulders in society can affect how they see themselves, and the world around them. Although the modern man might take a little longer to break the gender barriers, it is clear things are changing with 20% of our male users signing up to fashion courses and 30% signing up to learn more about hairdressing. Although these statistics show that stereotypes are shifting, we must consider the fact that more females seem to book courses and attend evening classes.
The resounding message from these stats is that ‘I’m a girl’ means nothing when it comes to learning. Never be put off because you are the only girl, or boy, in the classroom. Who cares? Hold your head high and prove your doubters wrong. What’s more, if you have a story to share then why not get in touch via facebook or twitter – we love hearing from you.
Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.