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Sexism in GCSE options

(40 Posts)
SunnyGoats15 Wed 11-Jan-17 10:32:12

My daughter has chosen engineering as one of her GCSE options, she was the only girl in her form to choose it. The PSHE teacher asked her why, but didn't ask any of the boys why. She's in top set for maths and science. That particular teacher has told the class that she's a feminist. Ha! I don't think so.

catslife Wed 11-Jan-17 12:06:12

My dd was one of only 2 girls to choose DT Product design out of a year group of 200. No teachers queried her choice at all.

PurpleDaisies Wed 11-Jan-17 12:07:41

In surprised. Must schools are now actively encouraging girls to take traditionally male subjects.

BigSandyBalls2015 Wed 11-Jan-17 12:11:53

Sexist or genuinely interested in your DDs point of view due to the absence of any other girls in the class?

MrsEricBana Wed 11-Jan-17 12:13:13

Maybe that teacher asked your dd why in order to gain some insight in order to inspire the other girls?. It is curious why so few girls think of engineering. My dh has a tech engineering firm and I have a science background. Ds talks about doing engineering but dd never does. Why should this be?

GummyBunting Wed 11-Jan-17 12:20:03

I am in the teachers position, and on the odd occasion a girl comes to my sessions I do ask them why (in a more subtle way) because I want any insight into how I can encourage other girls in. It certainly doesn't make me less of a feminist. Could be a similar thing?

titchy Wed 11-Jan-17 12:43:21

Since when has asking why someone has taken a particular course of action meant they're sexist (or racist or ageist). She was probably just interested.... hmm

LottieDoubtie Wed 11-Jan-17 13:03:20

Yeah what everyone else said. Asking a question could have a 1000 explanations most of which aren't sexist.

You already know the teacher identify as a feminist so it's hardly likely to be a sexist reason is it?

SunnyGoats15 Wed 11-Jan-17 13:51:14

It was an incredulous 'why?' from a teacher who doesn't even know her. The head of year was happy with my daughter's choices.
If my husband and I had been discouraging parents it wouldn't have helped her to have a teacher ask why in that way and then go on to say, ''It's just making things out of metal, measuring and recording you know...''
She could have asked each of the students why they chose engineering if she was interested.

LottieDoubtie Wed 11-Jan-17 14:58:12

Were you there OP?

titchy Wed 11-Jan-17 15:18:54

Maybe it's because GCSE Engineering is generally for low achievers, and she thinks your dd is a high achiever who should be doing more academic options?

and to be fair, a teenager's definition of 'incredulous' is likely to be everyone else's definition of totally disinterested....

SunnyGoats15 Thu 12-Jan-17 06:35:47

Thank you for your comments, everyone. smile

Sadik Thu 12-Jan-17 08:39:41

"Maybe it's because GCSE Engineering is generally for low achievers"
Is that really true? DD didn't take it in the end because it didn't work out with option blocks, but was very keen and school encouraging. Of the older dc I know, I'd say plenty of STEM focused high achievers took it as their practical / 'fun' option (and indeed at least two now aiming for engineering as a degree).
I'd second the likelihood that the teacher hoping to see how to encourage other girls into the subject - pretty bad form if school is only getting one girl opting for it, and suggests some issues in the dept, I'd say.

Sadik Thu 12-Jan-17 08:40:58

Sorry, didn't see your later post - agree 'it's just making things out of metal' very unhelpful as a comment. (Especially given that engineering is an excellent career path for anyone!)

LunaLoveg00d Thu 12-Jan-17 08:41:59

I remember being the only girl in a Geography class of 25 and was never quizzed on it at all.

lljkk Thu 12-Jan-17 18:07:15

Maybe the PSHE teacher is trying to figure out how to encourage more girls, what made one girl choose engineering?

How many boys have chosen dance, hairdressing, childcare or social work GCSEs? Is anyone asking that question.
The kids self-segregate, boys are more restricted than girls in options they feel they dare go for.

hesterton Thu 12-Jan-17 18:09:38

It's not for low achievers but high achievers would also be wise to do physics as well.

SunnyGoats15 Fri 13-Jan-17 09:33:26

Here's a link for anyone experiencing negativity in their daughter's choice for engineering.

www.wes.org.uk/

I should add that we are happy with the school. They are very encouraging to girls and boys alike, it was just this particular teacher who was difficult.

ParadiseCity Fri 13-Jan-17 09:37:35

Unfortunately most of the initiatives I've encountered designed to attract girls into engineering have been created/signed off by the most dull uninspiring white middle aged men you will ever meet. If I was a teenage girl interested in STEM and I saw a poster about 'engineers make lipstick! And cupcakes!' I'd think wtf.

I do love Roma the engineer though.

SunnyGoats15 Fri 13-Jan-17 09:38:39

Thank you to everyone who commented. It's obviously a big subject in our family at the moment.
Wishing you all well with your children! smile

ErrolTheDragon Fri 13-Jan-17 10:03:11

Maybe the PSHE teacher hadn't read the specification? I just had a very quick look at the aqa one http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/engineering/gcse/engineering-4850/subject-content/unit-1 . Apart from sexist stereotypes, there is also unfortunately a lot of ignorance about what 'engineering' includes. People just don't think about what goes into the technology they use every day - without engineers there would be no cars, iphones, electricity, motorways, cat scanners etc etc ad infinitum. Why wouldn't a girl want to be involved in such a creative realm?

Just keep supporting your DD to make her own choices. In yr 1 a teacher informed DD that girls couldn't be 'builders' (she meant some sort of engineer really, not a brickie, but even so stupid teacher). Now at the far end of school - she was fortunate enough to go to a girls' school so her gcses in DT electronic products and comp sci were entirely girls. Her A level physics and maths likewise. Theres quite a few who'll be going on to engineering degrees this year, mine included. If your DD continues to be interested in engineering, it might be worth seeing if theres a girls school sixth form in due course which similarly normalises girls doing such subjects. (Though if she knows her own mind and isn't a sheep, it may not matter - back in the day there was only one other girl inmy a level double maths set and none in the chem and physics and it didn't bother me at all)

SG29 Mon 16-Jan-17 15:10:49

My DD was actually refused a place in a similar type of class, on the basis that it was for low achieving boys. She was encouraged to take the food course instead (in the end she chose another academic class for this option). I don't know how much of the "problem" was that she was a girl, and how much that she was academic – maybe a combination of the two – but it was a shame because she had a real interest in obtaining the hands on skills and experience.

She is also one of only a few girls in the computer course, but it seemed like the school/computer teachers were keen for more girls.

We have noticed/experienced issues over the years with stereotyping/discouragement and sciences, and have seen that the same applies to boys in the school for languages and English. It's not great.

I agree though that wider attempts to encourage girls in STEM can be a little counterproductive. The "in science you can make lipstick and pink things!" approach is equally offputting to my DD.

slug Mon 16-Jan-17 16:01:54

Ha!! DD is the top of her maths, science and computer science classes, much to the chagrin of the boys in her class. Last parent's evening I raised the issue with her computing teacher about the social cost for girls taking computing, and succeeding where her male peers weren't.

"Oh No" he said "That sort of thing does not happen in our school" At which point DH burst out laughing as DD and I (I work in IT so I know all about the social cost of being a woman in STEM) simultaneously sat back, crossed our arms and raised an eyebrow in tandem.

It's my suspicion (and for background I taught IT for many years) that many male teachers, for all of their training about gender equality, simply don't "get" it at all.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 16-Jan-17 16:26:28

One of the less-patronising efforts aimed at encouraging girls into STEM is the Vex robotics competition- I'm not sure if its always the case but last year they were giving free kit to girls' teams. I guess the thinking behind this is that if a school has a Vex club, its likely to be male dominated so (a) if theres a specific girls' team it's obviously not a 'boy thing' and (b) the girls wont have the boys talking over them and taking over. DD is helping to run such a club for younger pupils for the second year now. Might be something worth asking about if you have girls who want to design and build stuff but aren't getting the chance.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 19-Jan-17 07:09:17

titchy
Maybe it's because GCSE Engineering is generally for low achievers

I think that you might be confusing this with something else or have that 'technology is hitting stuff with hammers ' attitude.

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