Demotivation through sexism (and 'subject-ism')

Mar 26, 2015 • Laura Graham

During the first year of my BSc, I was signed up on a combined degree - Maths with Computer Science. Having no background in computer science (none was required), I found the programming modules required far too high a learning curve and it seemed assumed that other students taking these modules had informal experience of programming. On asking for additional help (as a few of the other people also enrolled on maths did), I was told that the pass rate was low for both women and maths students, and so the lecturer did not see the use of my gaining additional help. I persisted with the course for a while, but as a direct result of this comment I became demotivated and ended up dropping the computer science part of my degree and obtaining a straight Mathematics BSc.

What could have been done to fix this?

I think there’s little that could have been done after this comment to remotivate me, but perhaps I should have reported it so that similar comments would not be made to other women because gender discrimination is an incredibly serious issue. I do think that when there is knowledge that particular groups of people consistently do badly in a module (in this case, maths students and females), efforts should be taken to understand why this is happening, and amend the module as such. I also think that if the material covered in the module is not a complete introduction but is described as such, then some introductory material sent out prior to the beginning of term could help to improve matters.