Women in trouble - for 'getting ahead'
Friday 31 January, 2014
For a nation that, rightly, lauded Malala Yousafzai's courage in standing up for girls' right to an education in Pakistan, we are extraordinarily dismissive of girls' academic aspirations here at home.
The Telegraph and the i choose the same splash this morning - and it's instructive to compare the headings. In the Telegraph boys are being left behind at university; in the i, women are racing ahead.
Professor Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, likes the situation to that which gave (richer) pupils from independent schools the edge over those (poorer) from the state sector.
'The solution put forward by some universities was to offer pupils from state schools positions on lower grades than independent schools...the advantage conferred by independent schools is now less than the advantage obtained by being a female.'
[Advantage? Try telling the women in some of today's other splash stories - the murder of Meredith Kercher and the reconviction of Amanda Knox; the continuing search for the people thought to have snatched Madeleine McCann from her holiday bedroom; and the hundreds of thousands of women and girls living in Britain who have suffered genital mutilation, even though the practice has been illegal for nearly 30 years.]
Gameoldgirl has been dealing with stories about girls outperforming boys at school for the best part of twenty years and she remains as baffled today as she was on day one. If we live in an equal society that affords the same opportunities to all, why is it a problem if one sex does better than the other? Or, more particularly, if girls and women do better than boys and men? Nobody saw a problem when the male of the species was top of the class.
Surely it can't be because women can't be trusted in the workplace, going off having babies and wasting all that money spent teaching and training them? Can it? And how does this concern sit with the hand-wringing and head-scratching about how to get more women into the boardroom, into Westminster? And most baffling of all, how can any woman - Dr Mary - seriously describe men as a disadvantaged group?
There is so much more at play here. Girls are known to apply themselves more to their lessons and, now that they have options beyond nursing and secretarial work, they see studying as worthwhile. This message has broken through the glass floor so that less well-off girls are doing better at school and seeing university as a realistic ambition.
Isn't this something to celebrate?
But no, we have to look on the down side of the boys who would still rather play Grand Theft Auto than struggle with algebra. And what if they do? Not going to university doesn't automatically condemn these lads to becoming part of an unemployed underclass or turn them drunken druggie zombies roaming the streets looking for trouble.
Remember there has been an increase in the number of students of both sexes wanting to go to university - it's just that it's a bigger one for girls (4%) than for boys (3%). And these figures are still only for applications. It doesn't follow that the proportion gaining places will be the same.
If we're worried about boys' further education we should be focusing more on apprenticeships and decent vocational training than looking at Ucas forms.
If you pass your A levels with top grades, you are likely to appear on the front pages jumping in the air and waving a sheet of paper.
What's not to like? A sunny summer picture of happy young people celebrating the fruits of hard work and dedication.
Except the pictures tended to feature pretty girls in spaghetti straps. So the cry went up: 'What about the boys?'
Read more here
Women of note
The banknote campaign doesn't serve the feminist cause very well.
It has the air of women stamping their feet and shouting 'It's not fair.'
And that means we also have men patting us on the head saying 'Calm down dear. We'll give you that Pride and Prejudice woman next time...Now get back to the hoovering.'
Read more here
A T-shirt for less than the price of half a dozen eggs? A Christmas turkey that costs more than your party dress? An entire school uniform for less than a couple of lamb chops? Surely that can’t be right?
No, it isn’t right.
We have outlawed battery hens, but we have done little or nothing to outlaw battery women.
Read more here