By Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director of Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions, and Communications (MRAC) at Heriot-Watt University Dubai.
In today’s world, there is an increased focus on bridging the gap between academia and industry. With the rising importance of relevant skills and digital know-how, higher education has been tasked with the challenge of aligning its curricula with the requirements of today’s job market. In this pursuit, universities have been dedicating more attention to partnering with Industry in a bid to facilitate this connection. An area that is often overlooked in this respect is how gender-sensitive education planning can play a crucial role in bridging this gap.
In image above: Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director of Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions, and Communications (MRAC) at Heriot-Watt University Dubai
Universities can leverage gender-sensitive education planning to address gender gaps not only at the academic level but in Industry as well. A study by UNESCO in 2019 shows that despite findings that 57% of STEM graduates in the MENA region are women, World Bank figures suggest that educated women have the highest rates of unemployment in the region. In fact, some projects have already started paying attention to the importance of extending the focus beyond the scope of education. For example, the Global Engineer Girls program, a recently launched global project, focuses on empowering girls and young women to undertake degrees in STEM through career mentoring and campaigning against gender bias. Such projects are invaluable as they recognize that accessibility to education alone is not enough, as structural discrimination often impedes women’s career advancement despite being highly qualified.
As such, with attention dedicated to aligning academia and Industry, there is considerable potential for higher education to leverage gender planning to bridge this gap. Here are some ways to make this happen:
By incorporating gender-sensitive education planning into their collaboration efforts with industry, universities can not only bridge the gap but also contribute to creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces. This collaboration benefits both academia and industry by promoting knowledge exchange, addressing industry needs, and preparing graduates who are sensitive to gender issues and ready to contribute to diverse workplaces.