Education’s for girls and that’s that.

We feel that there is need for a balanced, gender-bias free debate on the reasons for and solutions to the problem of declining support for education among males.

men down pit

Based on the latest university application figures from UCAS, a BBC Education web article today states quite matter-of-factly that: “Overall not only have far more women applied (to university through UCAS) than men, as usual – 244,167 compared with 186,322 – but the percentage increase in female applications is also greater: 10.2% against 7.2%.” What is going on here? If it was women and not men that were significant by their absence then Germaine Greer and her ilk would be decrying the sexism that pervades the institution of education and how urgent reform is required.

Now those very same campaigners remain silent. It is left to the Conservative spokesman, of all people, to comment on such a gender disparity: “These figures show a continuing increase in the overall number of university applications. But there is one important group that remain at the bottom of the heap: working-class men. We are seeing rapid growth in the number of female students, international students and older students. It is great to see such a diverse mix of people at our universities. But young working-class males are being left behind(my italics).”

Should we be concerned that white and black males are least likely to achieve academically or to view university as a worthwhile life option? If we believe in a fair, equal and just society then we must be concerned. The answer may lie in the defeminisation of education i.e. combating female dominance of position in schools, colleges and universities. We will also need to break the cycle whereby males, especially working-class males, adhering to type, instinctively choose non-academic routes to success. Role models are one option, although peer pressure and family support are essential.

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