Women pick medicine in Scottish university gender divide

The highest enrolled undergraduate courses for female students in Scotland last year were those connected to medicine, while for males it was engineering and technology, latest figures reveal.

There is still a stark gender divide among students in Scotland when it comes to choice of courses
There is still a stark gender divide among students in Scotland when it comes to choice of courses

A report by the Higher Education Student Statistics Agency also shows agriculture, veterinary science and mass communications and documentation took first, second and third place for courses with least enrolments for both sexes.

After medical subjects, females chose biological sciences, business and administrative studies, social studies and language in their top five.

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Meanwhile computer science and architecture, building and planning came in fourth and fifth place for women for least chosen subjects.

In the top five for male students, after engineering and technology came business and administrative studies, computer science, biological sciences and social studies. Education was the fourth least popular subject for males, followed by law.

Overall, first year students in 2016-17 increased by 11 per cent - 548,415, up from 495,325 in 2012-13.

Barinder Hothi, managing director of The Knowledge Academy.com who analysed the subject ratings, said: “It is pleasing to see more and more pupils chose to continue their studies and enrol in higher education over the last year.

“The popularity of subjects allied to medicine could result in a positive impact in the lack of medical staff we are experiencing in the NHS. Likewise, business and administrative studies have continued to be as popular for men and women.

Elena Semple, National Union of Students Scotland vice-president communities, said: “It’s concerning to see such stark gender divides continue in sections of our education system. We’ve now got ambitious, government-led targets to tackle the gender imbalances.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We want every young person to have an equal chance of going into higher education.

“We are determined to tackle occupational segregation, and know gender stereotyping limits individuals choices as well as being a drag on Scotland’s economy. We are working to ensure there is a national approach to challenging gender stereotyping in the delivery of all school subjects. We are aiming to improve the gender balance of those taking Stem subjects in schools.”