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Why Gender Disparity Follows on From School to the Workplace

Gender disparity is predominantly presented in recent news as mainly associated with the workplace and how this issue affects employees’ salaries.

However, a recent study by has investigated the in-depth origin of this problem, revealing how gender imbalance is affecting students in higher education and its reflection in their working future.

Ian Wright from stated:

“Across all sectors, there is a great disparity between women and men in senior positions – especially in the boardrooms. The research shows there is a greater number of women in higher education, but this isn’t reflected in a number of industries – and many are set back by the gender pay gap.”

Gender Distribution in Higher Education

The number of students deciding to continue into higher education has steadily increased over the last few years despite rising fees. 1,273,335 women have entered higher education over the last year, compared to  992,270 men. Here are the top five subjects studied in the UK:

  1. Business and Administrative Studies – With over 326,000 people studying Business and Administrative studies in the UK, it is the most popular subject in the selected fields. There isn’t a large disparity between the number of female and male students – as 161,450 are female and 165,325 are women, the only subject that has a similar gender distribution.
  2. Engineering and Technology – Coming at number two on the list, Engineering and Technology show a significant disparity between the genders. There are just under 27,000 women studying the subject, compared to an overwhelming 134,340 of men.
  3. Computer Science – With a total of 93,210 students taking this subject, computer science has seen an influx over the past few years. However, like Engineering and Technology, there is a significant difference between the number of men and women studying the subject. Just 16,000 women study computer science compared to over 77,000 men.
  4. Law – Over 87,000 students study law – making it the fourth most studied subject on the list. It is one of the subjects that have more female students compared to male, with 53,545 women and 34,035 men.
  5. Medicine and Dentistry – Out of the top five, medicine and dentistry is also one of the only subjects that have more female students than male. Out of the 65,995 students, over 37,000 of these are female and just over 28,000 are male.

Genders Represented Across Profession

It is well-known that there are subjects which are gendered causing the “glass slipper effect” which associates certain roles with certain genders. These are the top three professions where we see the largest disparities between the sexes:

  1. Civil Engineers – Closely relating to the statistics showing the gender distribution of those studying engineering and technology, this is also reflected in the number of people in the profession itself. It is the worst industry for gender disparity, as 89% of civil engineers are men compared to 11% of women.
  2. Nurses – Around 88% of nurses are women compared to 12% of men. The role which has stereotypically been associated with maternal and feminine qualities may explain why such a high number of nurses are women.
  3. IT Specialists – Subjects like engineering, technology, and science have often been associated with men, based on gender stereotypes. Similar to the civil engineer profession, IT specialists also see a large difference between the sexes – with 83% of men in the role compared to 17% of women.

Gender Imbalance in Business

Check out here the full infographic by The infographic explains the gender distribution in education and job profession. Also, the study describes the proportion of females in roles by industry and the countries with the highest and lowest representation of women in their boardrooms.

About the author: Ian Wright is the CEO of, which aims to give UK small businesses owners more accurate pricing information on a wide range of business products and services, helping them to find the right supplier and get the best deal.

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