Ucas chief exec: gender gap widening in higher education

Mary Curnock Cook, the head of Ucas, has voiced concerns over the low proportion of boys gaining places in higher education compared with girls.

In a press conference, Curnock Cook said that “there is a deafening policy silence of the issue”. She added “Has the women’s movement now become so normalised that we cannot conceive of the needing to take the positive action to secure equal education outcomes for boys?”

Data released from UCAS in the past indicated that UK women are 35% more likely to to go to University than men, indicating that the gender gap has been “widening to a record level”.

Curnock Cook’s remarks came on the same that the Further Education Admissions Service released data on the numbers of men and women accepted onto 150 higher education degrees, which showed that there was more women than men on two-thirds of University level courses. For courses starting in September and October 2015, women outnumbered men in 112 out of 180 subjects, with women appearing to leap ahead in number in courses including psychology (82%), social work (88%) and education (89%). It was nursing, however, that took first place for the most female dominated subject, with females accounting for 91% of those on the course.

In response to Curnock Cook’s comments, Dr Lee Elliot Major – chief executive of The Sutton Trust – described how the gender gap within education as “a tragic waste of talent with a significant economic cost”.

Males are, however, ahead of women in numbers when examining traditionally male dominated STEM subjects, including computer science and engineering. Caroline Jordan, president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) said more needed to be done to inform girls about the careers and educational opportunities offered such fields.


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August 2022
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