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Women as told by the EU

Women as told by the EU

Women as told by the EU

In the European Union, access to education is a fundamental right. More women than men graduate from higher education institutions each year. However, new data and research released by the European Parliament indicates that the news may not be as positive as it first appeared.

Women are vastly underrepresented in certain sectors. Of those women who graduated from higher education in 2011, the vast majority qualified in the education, training, health, and welfare sectors. Only 26.6% of women who graduated did so in engineering at 40.8% in science, mathematics and computing. This is particularly interesting considering that men and women show similar levels of ability while studying these subjects in school. It can be very daunting to be in the minority and this requires a courage and determination. Are young women still led to believe that they ought to fulfil certain career/gender roles?

Out of the 28 countries in the EU, on average there were 121.6 women in higher education for every 100 men (the highest ratio was Poland with 149.1 women for 100 men, and the lowest was Greece with 96.6 women for 100 men). This shows that women are being given the same opportunities as men; they are allowed to pursue education and better themselves.

However, despite the encouraging levels of women in higher education, more women are in part-time work than men. 31.9% of women work part time, compared to 8.4% of men. Childcare and maternity leave would be obvious answers for the reasons why more women are not in full time work as caring for children is still seen as a maternal prerogative.

Although this study has provided some encouraging results, it highlights that increased efforts need to be made in encouraging girls to pursue STEM. It also shows that perhaps more equal laws concerning childcare need to be drafted. For now, though, education is moving us in the right direction.


Madeleine is a final year student at the University of Exeter studying BA English with proficiency in French who has developed her writing and editing through her involvement with Her Campus Exeter. In her free time, Madeleine loves discovering new music in preparation for the UK festival season and searching for opportunities which can broaden her horizons, most recently this was volunteering as a teacher in Beijing, China, where she was immersed in Chinese culture and tradition. There are few things in this world that bring Madeleine more joy than glitter, velvet and sequins and her ideal dinner party guests would be Queen Elizabeth I, George Orwell and Taylor Swift. Currently, with graduation looming, Madeleine is exploring the idea of taking time out to travel the world on a shoe string before embarking upon a career in international humanitarian aid.


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