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From The Classroom to the Boardroom: How Education Is Affected by Gender Disparity

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The lack of gender diversity is present in all aspect of our society with a big focus in the work environment, however, is not the only place where it can be experienced.

Gender diversity can be seen from classrooms to boardrooms, with over 1.2 million women enrolled in higher education compared to 992,270 men and only 15% of women become boardroom members.

A new study has revealed how gender diversity can be perceived in education and how it evolves into professional spheres reaching out the highest and most powerful roles.

Gender Distribution in Higher Education

Regardless of University fees rising, there is still an influx of students enrolling in higher education. 1,273,335 women have entered higher education over the last year, compared to  992,270 men.

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Here are the top five subjects studied in the UK, highlighting women enrolled within them:

  1. Business and Administrative Studies – With over 326,000 people studying Business and Administrative studies in the UK, it is the most popular subject in the selected fields. There isn’t a large disparity between the number of female and male students – as 161,450 are female and 165,325 are men, the only subject that has a similar gender distribution.
  2. Engineering and Technology – Coming at number two on the list, Engineering and Technology shows a significant disparity between the genders. There’s just under 27,000 women studying the subject, compared to an overwhelming 134,340 of men.
  3. Computer Science – With a total of 93,210 students taking this subject, computer science has seen an influx over the past few years. However, like Engineering and Technology, there is a significant difference between the number of men and women studying the subject. Just 16,000 women study computer science compared to over 77,000 men.
  4. Law – Over 87,000 students study law – making it the fourth most studied subject on the list. It is one of the subjects that have more female students compared to male, with 53,545 women and 34,035 men.
  5. Medicine and Dentistry – Out of the top five, medicine and dentistry is also one of the only subjects that have more female students than male. Out of the 65,995 students, over 37,000 are female and just over 28,000 are male.

Genders Represented Across Profession

There are subjects which are gendered causing the “glass slipper effect”, which associates certain roles with certain genders.

These are the top three professions where we see the largest disparities between the sexes:

  1. Civil Engineers – Closely relating to the statistics showing the gender distribution of those studying engineering and technology, this is also reflected in the number of people in the profession itself. It is the worst industry for gender disparity, as 89% of civil engineers are men compared to 11% of women.
  2. Nurses – Around 88% of nurses are women compared to 12% of men. The role which has stereotypically been associated with maternal and feminine qualities may explain why such a high number of nurses are women.
  3. IT Specialists – Subjects like engineering, technology and science have often been associated with men, based on gender stereotypes. Similar to the civil engineer profession, IT specialists also see a large difference between the sexes – with 83% of men in the role compared to 17% of women.

While it’s well-known that gender disparity is predominantly experienced in the work environment, this study highlights the fact that gender gap is not only exclusive to the office workspace, but also an issue targeting university classrooms – for example with the association of certain subject to a gender.

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