Daily Archives: November 19, 2015

Why are health studies and the arts being seen as feminine subjects?

As part of my assignment for my university course, I have to make a presentation and answer questions on specific topics relating to what we’ve learned in lectures. Whilst reading up on some topics one thing I read stuck in my mind more than anything else;

Sue Sharpe (1994) saw schools steering girls’ choices towards more ‘feminine’ subjects such as health studies and the arts and away from the more ‘masculine’ ones such as mathematics and ICT

Sue Sharpe conducted an influential study of girls’ and their expectations whilst at school in the years 1972 and 1994. This interested me to such an extent I decided to read up further on what Sharpe meant by health studies and the arts being feminine subjects.

Mozart, the influential composer was male. Has history changed things?

The first thing that crossed my mind was how ironic this suggestion is, in my opinion, because the arts have been dominated by men for years such as Picasso, Charlie Chaplin and Mozart. History has shown that we have clearly moved on from those times with women getting the vote in 1918 and women being actively involved in World War Two to women currently sitting and debating in parliament. Even after many attempts to make women more actively engaged in subjects in school and professions over recent years Uk Feminista show just how applicable it is that men are still the majority in the arts. I’m not saying whether this is right or wrong morally, but the facts are there. Could it be that history is simply being thrown out and women have totally taken domination in these subjects?

The 70’s saw initiatives like “Girls into Science” and the “Technical Vocational Education Initiative” but more recent studies have shown that women are not taking subjects which are heavily male dominated as much as they were 10 years ago.  What we do know is the Joint Council for General Qualifications in 2008 said that 70 per cent of A-level art students were female and 60 per cent of GCSE students were also female. These are facts and studies also show that boys don’t think art will be important to their future careers and choices.  So we see here that health studies and the arts are definitely seen as being feminine subjects but could it be a change in attitudes across british society that made Sharpe think this way?

How do we really know what Sharpe meant?

Personally, I think that it could be that Peter Hicks is right and “it’s careers advisers in schools who are often detached from the modern reality of these  professions and have a distorted idea of what they’re like.”? I didn’t have good support at all, with the exception of a very supportive family. I was rarely encouraged by any of my high school teachers to follow my dreams, which is a huge fault in high schools these days and complaints are regularly made by teenagers about it. Perhaps it is teachers that have been steering this attitude of health studies and the arts being feminine subjects?

So I have given three rough ideas as to things I think could have given Sue Sharpe this idea of the arts and health studies being feminine subjects. That history is simply being thrown out and women have totally taken domination, that teachers that have been steering this attitude of health studies and the arts being feminine subjects and a change in attitudes across british society. Maybe none of these ideas were what Sharpe was thinking at the time.I would love to hear what you think about this bold statement from Sharpe!