Gender inequality in the educational system

In tertiary education in the past, and today still, there is a pressing admittance of university availability and accessibility for female students. As the quality and necessity of higher education gains more attention of education stakeholders in New Zealand and around the world, it brings to front the gender inequality in the tertiary sector in our society. Gender difference has a long history dated back to the very beginning of human beings. The western creationists theorised that God took a rib from Adam and turned it into Eve. Regardless of the folk stories however, it appears to be a general belief that both western and eastern societies are centred at men. Among numerous factors behind human diversity, the distribution of education by sex is frequently argued to be a key determinant of gender inequality. In particular, female access to higher education represents a key indicator differentiating developed and developing countries. One of the striking features found within New Zealand tertiary education, is the prominence of women among college students. At Victoria University 2005, females made up 6944 of 12165 full time students, and 4589 of 8215 part time students giving a total of 11533 females compared to 8847 male students, 56. 6% of the total student population (VUW Gender Studies Project Data). However, this representation significantly proportioned to the type and status of the study undertaken. It is only since the late 1960’s that women have had the ability to obtain tertiary education to any significant degree, and only the last decade that women have made up approximately half of the overall student population. Higher education opportunities have received a lot of discussion in recent years. Classic studies of inequality in education typically have focussed on disparities of social class among men, and when gender inequality is discussed, it receives relatively limited attention. It is seen that gender disparities are highest at the tertiary level. This comes to front significantly when looking at gender inequality per subject, implying that some subject are more “ male” than others and often discriminating against women. At Victoria University 2005, in subjects such as Architecture there was 1176 (42. 5%) female participation. More significant male dominated subjects included Physics (25. 7%), Computer Sciences 228 (13. 2%), and Mathematics (29. 4%). Female dominated subjects included those such as Psychology (70. 8%), Tourism (68. 6%), Education (84. 9%), Nursing (89. 2%), and Law (60. 9%) (VUW Gender Studies Project Data). A significant trend is shown here, male dominated subjects tend to be the “ higher”, “ brighter”, “ wealthier”, and “ top” subjects, whereas bar law, the female dominated subjects are more hospitality based, “ non significant” and smaller earning areas seen of less importance than those in the male stream. These are results of gender stereotyping from the 18th and 19th century, where the gender split was phenomenal and women did not do certain fields of work. Although society is changing, there is significant knowledge to conclude that there still remains to be a marked difference in the gender equality issue and the valuing of male skills over women’s is an ongoing issue. However, it is important to acknowledge that women do have equal opportunity to acquire these skills, but its out in the workforce whether they get the chance to use these skills is another concern. Just because there is equal opportunity in education doesn’t mean it has translated into equity of outcome once women enter the workforce. This impacts another factor in the determinants of gender inequality, the Gender Wage Gap. There are three main reasons seen to influence the Gender Wage Gap: 1. Narrowing grouping of occupational groups (relatively poorly paid) undertaken by women. 2. Women’s skills undervalued, resulting in bias overvaluing of males in certain fields of work. 3. The structure of work often fails to meet women employee’s needs. The Gender Wage Gap is increasingly significantly and is worse for women with a tertiary education. It has prevailed despite changes in societies attitudes towards women and the increasing number of women in paid work. What is of more significance however, is a comparison of income received by men and women in similar circumstances. Personal characteristics such as hours worked, level of highest qualification and age are of some importance in determining earnings while household and family characteristics are not. Consistent with other research in this area, the role of occupation appears not be a main factor. Many fields of research indicate that there are indeed some structural factors associated with the earnings gap, particularly hours worked. This leaves us with a question for all women to consider. Despite rare circumstances, is it worthwhile or necessary as females to get a loan, attend university, and do hours of study, only to wind up still being unequally disproportional and insignificant to men in any specialized fields of study? Maybe high school education is enough to sustain a earnable living and let males specialize in major fields of work while the women raise the home and family? The lack of gender balance in student population and subject areas is more sever in tertiary education, and the outcome depends on many background factors inherited within the family and community backgrounds. The importance of narrowing gender disparity involves no arguments among education stakeholders. Receiving an education is a basic right for all women, as we would all agree. Girls who are the women and mothers of the future must be properly educated so they can protect their own interests and provide good educations for their descendents. In recent years, more progress has been made to raise women’s status in New Zealand in the Universities. Progress within Human Rights, the Government, and the allowance sectors (Student Allowance and Training Incentive Allowance) are major impulses to encourage female participation at tertiary level. Some of our highest positions are held by women in New Zealand such as Helen Clark the Prime Minister; and to prepare women for high ranking positions, it is important to expand female access to higher education and workforce promotions. Overall, there is much inequality in the status and significance of women and men in tertiary education among universities in New Zealand. Between proportions of student participation and subject inequalities, females are generally seen of less importance in certain areas and their skills and expertise highly undermined. Future implications could lead to a huge gender disparity within the country, whereas as a community we need to move on and enforce and make use of the skills before us. We no longer live in the 19th Century where societies were male dominated and women highly insignificant in the workforce and in educational opportunity. We are now starting to see as equals, so its time that other sectors were equal as well, to level out the gender gaps and provide equal opportunity for all. It is by these means only that we can move on as a society for an efficient future.