Most popular ▴ See a list of all my posts! The experts got it wrong. Why are there no great Windows 10 apps? How moving the Capital helps Hartlepool. Gender bias calculator The Centre of the UK Defending Uber BusTracker Imagination not needed. Part 1. Imagination not needed. Part 2. Imagination not needed. Part 3. Why Birmingham fails Who is London? Innovation on buses. Heathrow

PDFs and Data ▾ Global open data and PDFs. Improving PDFs for Science. Improving PDFs for Planners. PDFAttacher. A Clearer Plan Hybrid PDFs PDF test-off. PDF Profiler Making PDFs play nicely with data

Housing ▾ Counting households. 1. Counting households. 2. The housing market works (where we let it) Hexmaps Adonis is wrong on housing Car free Birmingham

Regional Growth ▾ Measuring tech in the UK and France in 10 steps. Defending the Zombie graph. Channel 4 must move to Mancheseter Measuring innovation 1: meetups Measuring innovation 2: scientific papers. The UK city-size abnormality. Cities not cheese: why France is productive. How moving the Capital helps Hartlepool. Industrial Strategy. Leeds Growth Strategy 5: Limits. Leeds Growth Strategy 4: Focus. Leeds Growth Strategy 3: Inclusive growth. Leeds Growth Strategy 2: Where to grow? Leeds Growth Strategy 1: Why grow? Imagination not needed. Part 1. Imagination not needed. Part 2. Imagination not needed. Part 3. Inclusive growth. The BBC in Manchester 1 The BBC in Manchester 2 What works (growth) North-South divide: we never tried Imitating Manchester Why Birmingham fails Who is London? Researching research Replacing UK steel The Economist & The North The State of the North, 2015 Move the Lords! Calderdale Digital Strategy Maths of inequality Income by MSOA Heathrow and localism The NorthernPowerhouse Centralism and Santa Claus Yorkshire backwards London makes us poor

Transport ▾ Crossrail 2: Where trust in experts dies. Pacers: crap trains, worth keeping. A Yorkshire transport policy. Stop telling me to learn from London. Fixing it ourselves: bus data in the North. Open fare data will be hard. Transport is too complex! Investment is political London loses when it blocks Leeds' growth The Centre of the UK Defending Uber BusTracker Train time map What works (growth) The Value of Time Innovation on buses. Heathrow 1975 WYMetro Plan

Politics & Economics ▾ GDP measures are like toilets. The UK's private postcodes restrict innovation. Yorkshire could learn from Ireland's success. Alternatives to GDP are a waste of time. Fiscal balance in the UK "Not like London" Innovation takes time to measure Fifa and the right In defence of the € GDP mystery Liberal protectionists 5 types of EU voter Asylum responsibilities STEM vs STEAM The Economist & Scotland BBC Bias? Northern rail consultation What holds us back? Saving the Union Summing it up

Positive ▾ Bike Lights Playful Everywhere Greggs vs. Pret Guardian comment generator Consult less, do more! More things for Leeds! Cartoons PubQuest: Birmingham

Tech ▾ What's holding back opendata in the UK? Anti-trust law saved computing 1 Anti-trust law saved computing 2 Open Data Camp Cardiff Why are there no great Windows 10 apps? Tap to pay. Open Data in Birmingham Defending Uber BusTracker Train time map Building a TechNation How the UK holds back TechNorth GDS is Windows 8 OpenData at the BBC SimFlood SimSponge See me speak Digital Health Leeds Empties Leeds Site Allocations Building a Chrome extension I hate webkit Visualising mental health Microsoft's 5 easy wins Epson px700w reset Stay inside the Bubble

Old/incomplete ▾ Orange price rises The future of University Cherish our Capital Dealing with NIMBYs Sponsoring the tube Gender bias calculator MetNetMaker Malaria PhD Symbian Loops Zwack Kegg Project The EU Eduroam & Windows 8 Where is science vital? The Vomcano 10 things London can shove Holbeck Waterwheel

Last modified: 27 November 2015

Nicky Morgan probably isn't a witch

STEM vs. STEAM, the gender pay gap, and the root of happiness

Recently my twitter feed came alive with condemnation of Nicky Morgan. She was reported as saying that girls were putting themselves at a disadvantage by studying exclusively arts and humanities A-levels.

Lots of people didn’t like that. Some felt she was suggesting that arts and humanities were inferior to STEM subjects. I neither think that's true, nor that Nicky Morgan said it. Some felt she was suggesting that studying exclusively arts restricted future career options more than studying exclusively STEM subjects. I suspect that this is true on average, but I don’t have the data to prove it.

Education isn’t everything and lots of people working in technical fields didn’t study technical things. The inventor of the programming language PERL is a linguist, Gina Trapani studied English, and the founder of slack did a degree in philosophy.

Likewise lots of artists have technical degrees. The head chef at Leeds’ only Michelin starred restaurant has a degree in Chemistry and D:Ream’s keyboard player, Brian Cox, has, of course, a degree in Physics.

There are wonderful examples of people from all backgrounds succeeding in all walks of life. Often they succeed in many different fields or by bringing knowledge and skills from one field to another. STEAM is really important, and it’s something to celebrate.

 

And yet no matter how many examples we can list, examples do not solve the problem that I think Nicky Morgan was addressing; that women in the UK do not earn as much as men.

Men earn more than women not as individuals – consider JK Rowling’s income or the fact that the CEOs of both Yahoo and IBM are women – but on average. It is on average that the greater propensity of boys to study technical subjects at school in turn makes them more likely, on average, to work in technical fields and in turn more likely, on average, to earn high salaries.

There are other factors at play. Pure sexism seems to play a significant role in creating the gender pay gap we observe in the UK. But a larger part of that gap is caused by the decisions of more girls at age 15 to study no technical subjects at all.

 

I support the right of girls and boys to make that choice. For many it will be the right thing to do. Many will get great technical jobs in the future or be happy in other great jobs. But let’s be honest with them when they are making their choice that they will, on average, earn less.

There is much more to life than money. There’s certainly much more to education and study than estimated earnings. I wish we heard that more when discussing the gender pay gap.

None of this is a denial of the sexism that exists in many technical fields. Part of that sexism expresses itself in the differing expectations society has, on average, of girls and boys. It is extremely important that we all fight that sexism.

I think that Nicky Morgan was fighting it.

blog comments powered by Disqus