Scottish colleges struggling to meet gender balance targets

A quarter of courses are struggling to meet tough new targets on gender balance in Scottish colleges.

In total, five out of 18 subjects have failed to meet the goal of ensuring that at least 25 per cent of students on the course are male or female.

The figures show just how difficult it will be for the colleges to fall in line with the Government’s targets by 2030.

Subjects such as nautical studies and construction are dominated by male students, with totals of nearly 96 per cent and 93 per cent in each.

While on other courses such as hairdressing and beauty, a whopping 95 per cent of those enrolled are female.

Likewise in care-related subjects, less than a quarter of students are male.

But overall it is a better picture for Scottish colleges with 49 per cent of the student population being male, thanks in part to the decline of female part-time students.

Angela Alexander, women’s officer for student body NUS Scotland, said that colleges needed to do more to address gender imbalances.

She added: “The disparities require action from an early stage to ensure much greater diversity and tackle the continued stereotypes and structures that contribute to that imbalance.

“There is no reason why, in a modern, inclusive world, we continue to see harmful gender stereotypes played out in our lecture theatres.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) said: “Colleges are working very hard through initiatives such as working with school pupils to challenge career stereotypes.”

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: “We are pleased there has been an overall improvement in gender balance, but we do recognise there is more work to be done to close the gender gap in some subjects.

“Colleges are working with the SFC and others to increase the diversity of the student body on key courses.”

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