i was listening to this interview on radio nz this morning with only half an ear this morning (seeing as how i also have to work for a living). kathryn ryan was talking to massey university lecturer mike irwin, the author of a book called "educating boys - helping kiwi boys to succeed at school". a few of the bits i paid attention to did make sense, and i have no beef with improving educational outcomes for boys. if we need some different approaches to help them do well, then we should look into that.
the thing i do have a beef with, however, is this notion that we've done really well with the "girls can do anything" campaign, and girls are now succeeding wonderfully at school. i beg to differ. i don't doubt that girls are doing well, relatively speaking. but they are not doing well in every field.
in my older daughter's IT class, there are only 2 girls out of a total of 20 students. last year was pretty much the same. last week i spoke to the associate dean of engineering at auckland university. he told me that the mechanical engineering stream had about 10% girls, which went up to 25% for other streams. i know the modern apprenticeship scheme has a very low uptake of women (something like 7% when i last heard).
the point is that i don't think the message has been totally successful, and there still needs to be work done to determine why it is that girls aren't taking some of these subjects. it's certainly not time to sit back and say our work is done, when areas of inequality remain.
as an aside, an interesting point that mr irwin made was that the gender of the teacher wasn't an important factor in boys. more important was the rapport they had with their teacher, and how motivated they felt by that teacher. although that would apply equally to girls as much as boys.