"Gendered" Hardcore Sciences in a Male World-Across ODL and Non ODL Institutions

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Promoting Equity and Inclusion // There has been a lot of concerns over the years on gender differences in enrolment into the hard core science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with men clearly predominating. This is supported by research reports linking the low enrolment of female students to proximity to institutions, learning styles, gender stereotypes and bias. If institutional proximity is one of the limiting factors then one would expect a rise in the female students enrolment in the sciences from ODL (that are accessible) and Non ODL (traditional) institutions that were also shut down during the COVID pandemic. It became important therefore to look at the gendered science in the male world especially during this period. Four Institutions including ODL and non ODL in two countries were selected based on convenience and easy access to data. For a comparative analysis, only programs run in sciences for two sessions across the institutions were considered according to gender using quantitative analysis. The result except in a particular non ODL institution supported previous studies of having more females in life sciences and males dominating the hardcore sciences. The life sciences and Mathematics recorded an increase in female students in the non ODL institution and a decrease in ODL institutions for the period under review. However information technology and computer science gave an increase in enrolment of female students In ODL institutions during the period. One is also tempted to infer from the results that the flexibility and accessibility of ODL bringing education to the door steps of learners may have encouraged more female students into delving into one of the hardcore science (IT and computer science) but not all. Since this is only a case study, it cannot be generalized. // Paper ID 2776

Gender,Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM),Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Inclusive Education,Women in Education