Editorial: the face of a boy

Soome õpilane tahtis koolis pommi valmistada

PHOTO: SCANPIX

In education, gender equality is off balance; this time, to the detriment of males. As also pointed out by latest Human Development Report: nowhere in Europe are highly educated ladies in such an overwhelming majority as in Estonia. Being confirmed by this year’s university admissions data: for every hundred gentlemen, an average of 150 girls enter universities, lady graduates being twice as abundant.

The cold hard figures – as statistics come – have triggered an altogether emotional and heated analytical response. Set next to the other pan-European study revealing our continent-leading wage gap – to the detriment of females – this has struck a strange divide between two contrasting stands.

To simplify: the first camp uses the above data to conclude that we are stuck in the stereotypes of the past, which now need to be changed.

The opposing point of view is somewhat weirder, telling us that there is no problem; at least not the kind that some say. Men allegedly not esteeming diplomas, which have degenerated into mere formality; on labour market, it is the man that matters, not the paper.

In all likelihood, none of the camps has the fullness of the truth. Emotions, as often proven, make for poor councillors.

We would better heed to sociologists, drawing the needed conclusions. Mati Heidmets – a Human Development Report author – thinks that the problem lies not in higher education, being altogether deeper/wider by nature: Estonia’s schools wearing the good-girl-face – to which boys do not always seem to attain. With less formal an education and a more personal approach, the wound would start to heal.

To which we say yes. On the one hand: as, due to imbalances in pre-school and general education, the state’s intellectual resource is increasingly tilted towards women, this equals wasted male talent. On the other hand: as leadership positions are still predominantly masculine – despite the abundance of academically powered ladies – lack of education may lead to poor leadership decisions. To deny this would mean we have no faith in the quality of higher education provided by our universities.

Still, it will take time to develop a more boyish pre-school and general education. It is what it is... And sometimes, perhaps, the problem needs to be tackled not by the roots, but somewhere at mid-trunk. In other words, at admissions to universities. Marju Lauristin probably being right in saying that the threshold-based admissions system should be abolished, taking a more individual approach. Not lowering the bar, but – in addition to formal exam results – greater emphasis should be laid on entrance interviews. Giving the guys a chance.

TOP