Women’s Institute of Technology ….

azalea-flowersI was standing in the queue for the café the other day and I looked at all the people.  Women outnumbered men at about 3 to 1.   I was sitting at a meeting the other day and women outnumbered men at about 10 to 1.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a criticism but it is an interesting phenomenon. Where have all the men gone?


We all know that supposedly girls thrive in the NCEA (National Certificate in Educational Achievement) environment where they are rewarded for persistent effort.  Where as boys classically thrive in the competitive environments of exams and last minute cramming.  So, are boys switched off learning from secondary school and not moving on to tertiary study?


We all know that supposedly women are the major caregivers for dependent children and so may not be in full time work, may be looking towards careers after the children have started school, and that men are mostly already engaged in work. If the bulk of our students are in this category, then they bring with them various challenges.  What to do with sick children when class is on?  How do they manage the self-directed study at home?  How do they balance the school drop off and pick up with class time.  If you place too many barriers on these students, their first priorities – looking after their families will always take precedent. 


We all know that supposedly some careers are favoured by females, and others are favoured by males. Looking at our portfolio of study options available: business administration, nursing, beauty therapy, hairdressing ….. generally speaking female students.  Within  engineering we have certificate and diploma level study options, and many of these students are trying to balance work and study.  This has the opposite effect for these students, these people need to access education often after normal work hours. 


Also I think there is another problem.  I firmly believe that many students are looking for careers and not just jobs to fit around the family, and often,  they are looking for degrees.  Young people don’t recognise diplomas, they don’t understand what they are. There was a study done on the attitudes of primary aged children and young girls wanted to grow up to “look after animals and people” in general.  Whereas the young boys wanted to “control people” and “make money”. 


Maybe that is why we are looking slightly more like a women’s institute of technology – our portfolio is mainly looking after people – nursing, social work, hospitality, servicing the community, those (males?) with career aspirations that involve being in charge, leading and making good money, just go elsewhere.    


One thing all our students have in common though is the need to have access to high quality, flexible learning options.  It’s not just what is convenient to us (timetabled hours of work, holidays, summer break off, delivering face to face) we need to focus on the needs of the LEARNER.  We HAVE to understand their needs.




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