Gender gap widens for some HSC subjects
A LACK of confidence could be stopping girls from taking their place in male-dominated high school subjects, further feeding stereotypes that some careers are "jobs for boys".
As exams begin today, enrolment figures for this year's HSC reveal the gender gap is widening in subjects such as physics, in which boys now make up nearly four in five of the 9672 pupils about to sit the course.
Boys also dominate places in engineering and maths, but girls outnumber boys in advanced English and creative courses such as visual arts.
University of Western Sydney lecturer Jessy Abraham said boys tended to "over-estimate their abilities, irrespective of achievement; girls are more realistic, but sometimes they underestimate their abilities.''
Blake Smith, 17, is studying nursing at Campbelltown TAFE.
Dr Abraham said girls also turned off the subject because it was linked to male-dominated fields, such as engineering, where a lack of female role-models backed the message they were "jobs for boys".
India Matthews-Whelan, from St Patrick's College at Sutherland, was one of only 16 girls in NSW to do an electrotechnology Vocational Education and Trainining course as part of her HSC - but that didn't stop her topping her all-male class.
"I knew I'd probably be one of only a few girls, but that was fine," she said.
Blake Smith, from De La Salle College in Revesby, was one of 45 male students to study human services for this year's HSC in a course where 92 per cent of the enrolment was female. He described it as "`a good experience''.
- Construction (VET), 98 per cent male
- Electrotechnology (VET), 97 per cent
- Metal and Engineering (VET), 97 per cent
- Engineering Studies, 96 per cent
- Automotive (VET), 94 per cent
- Software Design and Development, 92 per cent
- Textiles and Design, 98 per cent female
- Dance, 94 per cent
- Community and Family Studies, 93 per cent
- Human Services (VET), 92 per cent
- Tourism and Events (VET), 90 per cent
- Society and Culture, 81 per cent