Today (March 8th) marks International Women's Day. Inspired by this, and by the contribution women have made over the last decade, Brightwave's Operations Director Virginia Barder explores the world of gender equality in e-learning:

Do you recognise and value the gender difference sufficiently in your learners?


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Firstly I’m in danger here as I’m a male replying to your post about gender equality; but I won’t be put off so here goes!

As Virginia's blog rightly points out, there are differences (apart from the obvious) between genders. Whilst much has been written about this (more often as jokes), it is clear that the genders do differ in their ability to handle and process various types of information. I found this link which I thought would be useful to the reader - Ten big differences between men’s and women’s brains:

Designers of psychometric tests have known for years that generally men handle numbers and shapes better than women do and women handle language better then men do. This is noticeable in real life. Some statistics I saw a while ago (the precise numbers may have changed but I doubt it’ll be by much) showed that 90% of engineers globally were male and 98% of nuclear engineers globally were male. Here’s a link to a US study, which doesn’t align directly to the global percentages but does give some decent data:

But this isn’t about glass ceilings or things like that; men clearly have a stronger aptitude for engineering – fact. And the same is true in other areas; take linguistics for example, where the majority of translators are women because they generally possess far stronger language skills than men.

Having agreed that we are different, Virginia's point about designing effective learning is well made. The issues are however not just gender or age but also race and religion. Again, designers of psychometrics tests are very aware that the race and/or religion of an individual can and does affect their performance on a test.

This clearly is a massive area for learning and one which I hope will spark some debate on this forum. For the most part we design a singular learning activity (“e”, classroom, etc.) yet our audience is anything but singular.

I for one would be delighted to hear from other readers as to their experiences and research.




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