The existence of gender gap in education is one of the issues that have dominated debates for many years. As it turns out, there are various challenges encountered in recovering this gap. Top among these is the underlying notion that males are mathematically superior. This notion has led to the underrepresentation of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For instance, a study done in the UK shows that only 14 percent of women who joined university for the first time applied for science-related degree courses. This is in contrast to 39 percent of their male counterparts who pursued those fields of study.
A similar trend has been observed after graduation whereby even fewer women take up careers in STEM related fields. This has often been blamed for the widening gap in career and earning prospects among women.
That being said, boys are on the other hand seen to be lagging behind in non-technical skills such as reading skills. Besides that, girls’ enrollment in institutions of higher learning has been on the increase. According to a recent report by the UCAS in the UK, in 2017 there was 36 percent more teenage women who secured degree places than men. This report confirms a trend that has been taking shape over the last five years where women enrollment has been rising by a percentage point each year.
The challenge, in this case, is that less focus has been placed in enhancing academic skills among boys. A study cited by the US News confirmed that while girls spend an average of 1.8 hours studying at home, boys spend less than 0.8 hours doing the same on average. There is, therefore, a clear need to boost academic skills among boys who have been lagging behind in education for the better part of this decade in most developed countries.
Biological Factors in Education Gap
Biology could arguably be another major challenge encountered in recovering the gender gap in education. A study by Blum in 1997 confirmed that in general boys’ brains have more cortical areas for spatial-mechanical functioning. On the contrary, girls’ brains were observed to have greater emphasis on verbal-emotive processing. Another study done by Sax in 2005 confirmed that the male optical and neural system relies mainly on ganglion cells to detect mechanical movements. On the other hand, girls were seen to be sensitive to color variety and sensory activity. These subtle differences may be to blame for the clear differences in acquisition of education in both genders.
Another aspect that is widely thought to influence gender gap in education stems from societal factors. Some cultures and religions work in favor of the boy child. This has been observed even in developed world countries like the USA where some indigenous communities still view the boy child as superior to the girl child.
Economic empowerment particularly seems to be tied to how different genders are represented in education. In India for instance, enrollment of girls in basic education has been observed to be higher among economically empowered communities than in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. In economically developed nations, on the other hand, girls seem to be doing better than boys. In fact, a recent study confirmed that girls are 75 percent more likely to join university than boys. This points to a need to strike a balance by ensuring both genders are represented equally in different tiers of the education system.
What Can Be Done To Correct These Gaps?
A lot needs to be done for gender equality to be realized across the board. Schools need to embrace gender policies and create gender-friendly curriculum. That alone can go a long way in making sure every student is engaged in class and can play a significant role in the attainment of equality.
Besides that, parents have a major role to play. Although it is possible to assume to that all parents give their children equal support in school, a PISA study done in 2012 shows that’s not always the case. Parents were observed to lean more towards compelling their sons to undertake STEM-related courses than girls. Providing both genders with equal support from the family level is one of the missing links in closing off this gap. There is, therefore, a clear need for efforts to be made both at the family and society levels to ensure the gender gap in education is bridged.