William Collins was the author of two important pieces about the education gender gap, which leads to about 60% of university places going to women, The trouble with boys in education and Teachers’ unfairness to boys?. In the first piece he showed that the gender gap first emerged in 1987/8, the same year O Levels were replaced by GCSEs. Continuous assessments are integral to GCSEs, and this led directly and inevitably to the gender gap, because they allowed teachers’ anti-male marking bias to manifest itself in a way that hadn’t been possible with O Levels.
The education gender gap has been with us ever since, and we wouldn’t expect Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary as well as Minister for Women & Equalities, to give a damn about the matter. All the same, we publicly challenged her last month, and asked for some questions to be answered under the FoI Act – here. The letter included links to the two pieces by William Collins.
We’ve just received a response from the Department for Education. Our first two questions were about initiatives encouraging boys and girls to study subjects historically regarded as largely the preserve of the opposite sex. The response points to two initiatives, which together will cost taxpayers £7.1 million in the current financial year. They are aimed at increasing participation of both boys and girls in mathematics and physics A levels, ‘… but they do place some additional emphasis on addressing the low proportion of girls progressing to these A levels’. We picked Psychology and English Literature as female-dominated fields, and needless to say, no initiatives are in place to encourage more boys to study these subjects.
Our third question was:
Does the DfE recognize boys’ underachievement as a problem to be addressed, and if so, what initiatives are in place, and how much is budgeted for them in 2015/16?
The first part of the question wasn’t addressed, but we can infer the attitude of the DfE from the following:
The Department does not fund any initiatives that just focus on addressing boys’ underachievement. The Government’s education reforms are designed to ensure that all children, whatever their gender, have the opportunity to attain well at school.
Our fourth question was:
Does the DfE recognize that boys’ academic attainments have suffered as a result of an increasingly feminized teaching workforce? …are there any initiatives underway to encourage more men into teaching?
Once again, the first part of the question wasn’t answered, but we can infer the attitude of the DfE from the following:
There are no initiatives aimed at encouraging more men into teaching.
We consider the DfE response to be insubstantive – evading two key questions – so we’ll keep our public challenge of Ms Morgan on the long list of public challenges of feminists (and their male collaborators) which haven’t received substantive responses. The full list of those challenges is here.