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International Women’s Day - How Scottish colleges are responding to the GAP

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to declare bold actions an individual or organisation will take to help progress the gender agenda.

Since the development of the Gender Action Plan (GAP) in 2015 and its publication in August 2016, SFC has worked with colleges, universities and stakeholders to understand the challenges which the GAP presents to the sector and to support them to achieve its aims. This has included seeking ways to tackle the ingrained societal attitudes to gender-segregated curriculum areas such as construction trades, automotive engineering and computer science, as well as looking at subjects where men have traditionally been under-represented, such as health and social care or hair and beauty.

All this week we’re sharing some of the great progress being made by colleges in Scotland to shift the dial and attract and retain more female talent into areas where women have been under-represented for generations this International Women’s Day on our social media platforms.

Sarah Stevenson, HNC Civil Engineering, Fife College

But there’s more great work being done by colleges than we can possibly cover there. There are so many positive examples of women getting on and doing their courses and careers with the help of Scottish colleges.

Work like Ayrshire College is doing in areas including aircraft engineering, automotive, Aircraft Engineering, sport and biomedical science.

Or West Lothian College, Glasgow Clyde College and Fife College in Construction, Construction Management and construction engineering.

Sport too is an area dominated by men, but these great examples from West Highland College UHI’s Adventure Tourism Management and West College Scotland’s Sports Coaching courses show that’s changing. Dundee & Angus College is bucking the trend with 63% of its Science students being female.

Plus there are great examples of women in Mechanical Engineering (Dumfries & Galloway), Computing (New College Lanarkshire) and on Shetland NAFC’s Naval courses at its marine centre.

These examples demonstrate some of the breadth and complexity of the challenge faced by colleges and students in this endeavour. They also give a clear indication that, despite some perceptions, there is certainly an increasing demand for a more inclusive approach to studying in subject areas which have traditionally been seen exclusively as a man’s domain.

The Gender Action Plan is a long term commitment by SFC and the further and higher education sectors in Scotland to address gender segregation and attainment. We anticipate seeing demand from students who are under-represented in their chosen fields increasing. Taking bold action to support these minority groups is exactly what the GAP is about and we look forward to continuing to work with the further and higher education sector in Scotland to #BeBoldForChange.

Alison Malcolm, Policy Analysis Officer, Access & Skills - 8 Mar 2017