From my earliest memories of education as a 4 year old struggling to remember how to spell my own name, I was told that I was better at English than I was at maths.
It was never an issue in my mind, after all, I did enjoy English a lot more than maths, and from my first Jacqueline Wilson book in year three I couldn’t put a book down again until completing my English literature A Level which resulted in the joy of reading multiple books at a time being drained away (lol). But back in year 9 I started to enjoy elements of maths, and by year 10 I was on an ‘A’ in Physics and Computing. However, I was discouraged from choosing those subjects, not because I wasn’t able enough, but because I was better at History, Geography, and English. I was advised to choose subjects which were relatively similar in terms of skill set for A Levels because it would be easier to get onto a degree course. Upon reflection now as someone who has completed the British education system, I’m calling bullshit.
In the UK, professionals in the tech industry earn 40% more than average. There are many reasons for this, one of the lesser known ones being because the automation of jobs is becoming a reality with apx ⅓ of the jobs we know today expected to be automated. Consequently, the careers of the future (or more probably the eminent present) revolve around data management, coding, and business analysis, and I truly believe that one of the main reasons why there is such a large demographic disparity in the top positions of those jobs is because girls aren’t being encouraged as much as boys to enter them. This is detrimental to females and British society at large as we should be looking at where the world is heading and subsequently preparing the whole of our next generation of workers for that new world economy. Despite the popularly known campaigns such as WISE, if you walk into a computing lecture hall, it will be filled with guys, and if you were to then walk into a Philosophy lecture down the hall, you are likely to find a very different demographic of students. There is even a disparity in the type of sciences the different genders enter, with girls leaning more towards biology and boys more towards physics. …
I was always given the impression that I had to get consistent As and A*s in the maths and science based subjects at school to consider pursuing them for A Levels. (obvs this is my own humble experience), but there are many guys who I grew up with who weren’t necessarily as good or better than me but still went on to pursue more technical subjects, and I genuinely don’t think I could be the only one who had such a gender bias experiences growing up. A study commissioned by Microsoft this past year it was discovered that almost 1 in 4 girls in the UK feel STEM subjects are geared towards boys whereas girls in other European countries i.e. Russia and Finland feel STEM subjects are perceived to be gender-neutral. Teens are impressionable, and how teachers advise does have a massive influence on the way students pursue further/higher education.
I think that British people in general need to take a more American perspective on education. Those people never stop learning. I have several friends out in the states who have finished their bachelor’s degrees and are now in grad school or completing another bachelors, often in a completely different field than their first degrees. In the UK we tend to often stick with what we know. We choose a selection of subjects during GCSEs and kind of narrow down in those specific areas until we get to one subject for a degree and we just stick with it to the point where thinking about doing something outside of your field would feel like starting education again from reception. We achieve all of these certificates and qualifications and yet completely underestimate our ability to exercise or revive old skills, as though the whole human experience isn’t about continuously learning and adapting to new experiences.
So, whats my point in saying all of this? Always continue learning. Don’t be afraid to try something new. And make yourself valuable to the economy of tomorrow by diversifying your skill set.