You could be the reason your daughter is afraid to enrol for an engineering course or why she shies away from technical jobs and labour intensive assignments at the work place, a new education report reveals.
The findings released this week unearthed why female students develop low self-esteem against their male counterparts and how this impacts on their lifestyle.
It emerged that most families still prefer to educate male members of the family, pushing the girl child to the periphery. The Kenya Education For Employment Programme report says family still plays a major role in pushing down women’s capacities to excel, where women and girls are assigned the role of childcare and other domestic chores, while men and boys are given the role of providing for the family. “The role of provider for boys begins at a later stage in life, thereby creating unequal conditions and opportunities between boys and girls at all levels of education,” reads the report.
It says this kind of socialisation affects girls and boys choice of courses at the tertiary level. Vocational and Technical Education (TVET) Principal Secretary Kevit Desai acknowledged the big gender imbalance in TVETs, particularly in science, technology and engineering courses. “This imbalance mainly affects women and the impact of this imbalance can be far reaching, leading to low numbers of women in technical fields and a gender-biased labour force,” said Dr Desai.
The PS said that often, many women end up in jobs that have lower productivity and wages, slower career progression and lower status compared to their male counterparts.
The findings are based on interviews with stakeholders, review of institutional policies and information gathered from youth, government officials, training institution trainers/administrators, civil society representatives and private sector/employer representatives.
The report says women who enrol in TVET tend to choose courses that are “female-dominated” such as hospitality, beauty and therapy, fashion and design.
Most shocking is revelation that industry stakeholders interviewed mentioned they prefer employing men as opposed to women. “This is as a result of socio-cultural perceptions, namely stereotypes of what women and men can and cannot do,” reads report.
For example, the report says in the hospitality/hotel management sector, there are more women as servers and in room management as they are perceived to be neater and pay more attention to detail.
Their male counterparts are in the kitchen and in other roles perceived to require more strength.
Overall, the report released by Desai identified major causes of male domination in technical courses enrolment and their preference by employers in job offers.
Broadly, the report lists social, cultural and religious norms linked to access to and control of resources, decision-making and knowledge including social acceptability.
The report also identifies institutional capacity assessments including frameworks for the training institutions and government; supportive institutional policy frameworks and gender-sensitive pedagogical approaches.
Desai said in addressing the gaps, the government has been working to make TVET inclusive and increase access and participation for women and men as part of education reforms. “We have done this through provision of modern infrastructure in technical institutes and capacity building for TVET trainers,” said Desai.
The report however lists various barriers that block females from joining technical colleges, including negative attitude and stereotypes from parents, teachers and peers.
The burden of care among the female gender is also a major barrier. “When a close family member is unwell, female trainees miss school because they must offer care and support to community members,” says the report. Others are lack of flexible courses at the institutions, religious barriers, lack of structured flexible working hours among others.
Moving forward, the report proposes major steps to be adopted by government institutions such as Ministry of Education, TVET Authority, TVET Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council and Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placemen Service, Public Service Commission and National Gender and Equality Commission. “They must review existing policies and plans for gender responsiveness and equip institutions with resources for gender equality advancement, such as refurbishing structures,” reads the report.
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