Representatives of the Taiwanese Feminist Scholars Association yesterday said that there are still gender differences in higher education.
“Segregation of the sexes and the ‘leaky pipes’ phenomenon remain as serious as ever,” association chairperson Yang Chiao-ling (楊巧玲) said, citing statistics showing that gender continues to play a decisive role in the departmental affiliation of students and faculty.
According to Ministry of Education statistics, 71 percent of humanities students last year were women, while 74 percent of natural science students were men. The percentage of men studying humanities has increased by only 5 percent points since 1998, while the percentage of women majoring in natural science has increased by less than 2 percentage points.
Gender segregation is also mirrored in faculties, Yang said, adding that women comprised 49 percent of instructors in humanities departments, but only 22 percent in natural science departments.
“We have to find a way to break through this segregation, otherwise many individuals’ talents will be wasted,” Yang said. “Many women are well suited to study science, but because of different factors associated with their sex, they give up that option.”
Yang added that gender is also a decisive factor in education level and career achievement in academia, with women dropping out before reaching higher levels as part of what the group called the “leaky pipes” phenomenon.
While unmarried men made up only 32 percent of humanities undergraduate students, they constituted 36 percent of masters students and 50 percent of doctoral students, ministry figures showed.
The percentage of female faculty also progressively declined relative to level, with women comprising 54 percent of humanities lecturers, but only 39 percent of professors, a trend mirrored in other fields.
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