David Cameron: How do you see the moon – is it through a telescope, or a microscope?
Justice for men & boys (and the women who love them) has reported at length about the disastrous impact on the National Health Service of the decades-old policy to increase the proportion of doctors who are women. Today, 70% of medical students in the UK are women.
Dr Vernon Coleman, a veteran campaigner and writer, was pointing out in his books 30+ years ago that the policy would in time create chaos, and he’s been proven right. Female doctors are far more likely than male doctors to:
- quit the profession altogether (very few male doctors have partners willing to finance this option)
- work part-time rather than full-time, whether or not they have children
- refuse to work unsocial hours, including weekends
- refuse to work in the most demanding environments, including Accident and Emergency
It’s widely accepted that large parts of the NHS is in crisis, and spending out of control. The government knows that the prime cause of the problem has been the feminisation of the service, but cannot admit as much publicly. The government’s strategy to ‘solve’ the crisis is to train more doctors, and doubtless 70% of them will be women. It costs £250,000 to train a doctor. British men collectively pay 72% of the income tax collected in the UK, and women only 28%. To borrow a phrase once memorably employed by Janet Bloomfield, the strategy is batshit insane.
And what of another field in which female representation has been increasing for decades, education? It’s widely accepted that the standard of state education has been in decline for decades, despite ‘grade inflation’ being used to hide the stark reality. One of the few occasions I’ve cheered a statement made by David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions was on 27 June 2012. Liz Kendall, a Labour MP, had asked him if he planned to bring back O-levels and CSE-style exams, the forerunners to the more recent GCSE exams, generally taken when pupils are 16 years old. He replied:
What my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary explained in great detail in yesterday’s debate is that we want to have in our country an absolute gold standard of exams that are about rigour and high standards. The tragedy is that we inherited from the previous Government a system that was being progressively dumbed down, where Britain was falling down the league tables and GCSE questions included things such as, ‘How do you see the moon – is it through a telescope, or a microscope?’ Government Members think we need a rigorous system, and that is what we are going to put in place.
Time will tell whether a rigorous system is put in place. I won’t hold my breath.
There’s been a considerable debate over many years with respect to the impact of increasing the proportion of female teachers in the education system. The consensus appears to be that female teachers focus more effort on girls than boys, as do male teachers, albeit to a lesser degree. They mark them more highly when given the opportunity to do so. They also make greater efforts to stoke the ambitions of girls, and the assessment systems – with more of an emphasis on continuous assessment, less of an emphasis on formal exams – tend to play to girls’ strengths rather than boys’ strengths. It’s clear that many female teachers struggle to cope with the natural boisterousness of boys, as evidenced by the relentless increase in the number of boys diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (‘ADHD’) and medicated accordingly. These and a host of other factors have led to a situation where for every two men in tertiary education today, there are three women.
I recently submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department for Education concerning the gender balance of the teacher population since 1970. The following tables have been created from the data received today:
The picture is one of a steady decline in the proportion of male teachers. Men now constitute about a quarter of all teachers in the UK – one in eight primary school teachers, and three in eight secondary school teachers. In parallel with the increase in the proportion of teachers who are women, we’ve witnessed the mass introduction of classroom assistants – overwhelmingly female, it need hardly be said. Classroom assistants were unheard of when I attended school (1964 – 1975).
The field of education has strong parallels with the field of medicine over the past few decades:
- increasing female representation (although four out of seven unemployed people are men)
- declining standards
- increasing burden on the taxpayer
Channel 4 has recently been running a fascinating series about a state school, Educating Yorkshire. The differential treatment of the boys and girls has to be seen to be believed. In one programme the focus was on two pupils – a very volatile girl of about 16, and a generally mild-mannered boy of about the same age. The two of them had a fight one lunchtime, and their treatment at the hands of the teachers couldn’t have been more different. When describing the girl, the teachers would say she was ‘a character’, she was ‘feisty’ etc. She received no punishment with respect to the incident, while the boy was sent to an ‘anger management class’ which consisted of a 1:1 session with a female teacher. His spirit had clearly been broken by the incident, and yet he blamed himself entirely. The female teacher appeared happy to let him carry on doing so.
A small anecdote. The civil servant at the Department of Education who processed my inquiry happened to be of the female persuasion (they usually are). As is my custom, I emailed her to thank her for supplying the information. She replied:
‘Your very welcome.’