Scientific Program > Topic 8 > Session 8D >
Presentation 8D2. Gender and Cultural Factors in Statistical Education

Malati Pochun (Mauritian)


Presentation Abstract
In every country there is gender inequality in capabilities and opportunities available to its people. Two thirds of 960 million adults in the world are females. Of these, 400 million illiterate women are found in the following seven highly populated countries of the developing world: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Although gender gaps in both primary and secondary school enrollment have narrowed in the last decade, they are still far from closing. Recent studies have shown that in the 51 countries with the most significant gap, 75 million fewer girls than boys are enrolled in school. Gender bias reduces the demand for girls' education in many countries and the rate of drop-outs is very high among female children. The deep-rooted preference for sons leads to the neglect of girls as compared with boys in a family. Gender discrimination leads parents to send a son rather than a daughter to school, especially to secondary school. It is therefore not surprising that the same gender and cultural factors persist in statistical education as well.

Socially constructed roles for men and women expect that boys will be future bread-winners while girls will look after children and home. Even where women are working, most face job discrimination and are over-crowded in the low-paid and low-skilled jobs, or in the informal labor market. Women's shares in administrative, managerial and professional jobs are generally very low. Under such a social environment, girls are not very sure of their future roles in work or society. When it comes to selecting subjects in secondary schools, they tend to avoid subjects which they perceive as not of much use to them in later life or which seem quite difficult. Girls are considered less intelligent than boys. Science, technical subjects, mathematics and statistics are such subjects which girls are therefore very reluctant to undertake. They think of mathematics and statistics as irrelevant to everyday living. Those few who go for A level mathematics are also not very keen on taking the optional section on statistics. Teachers and textbooks in other subjects also further reinforce the gender bias by encouraging girls to opt for girls' subjects and with stereotyped generalisations of girls' and boys' future roles. Segregated schools for girls often do not offer such subjects including statistics. Most teachers in mathematics and statistics are men, and generally women are underrepresented in the field of statistics. Very few girls thus seem to think of taking statistics in secondary schools or enjoy it if they opt for it

This paper aims to examine further the gender and cultural factors involved in statistical education, especially in the developing countries.


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