Caught in a traffic jam on the way to work recently, the news from the local government radio station highlighting the Prime Minister’s wife (First Lady?) stressing her worry over the number of females dominating the institutions of higher learning, public and private, caught my attention. It seems that the fact that only 38% of our undergraduates are male has created panic to some parties, urging the boys to focus and work harder in school, excel in examinations, and increase the number of men in the various universities and colleges. This urge, personally to me, is rather untimely, at the point where the Education Minister had just launched the 1 Student 1 Sport program, yet another task for teachers to their already packed co-curricular activities. In fact, this is not really an issue, as things are turning their ways for some reasons. Yes, if you are asking, I’m not the least worried about the males being the minority in then tertiary education institutions.
Come visit any ordinary secondary school, you will see that this problem starts as early as in Form 4. The best Form 4 in my school, the pure science, has only 9 boys out of the 31 enrolment, which is less than 30 percent. In the next two classes there are four rows of girls out of six. The number of boys and girls almost evens in the 4th and 5th classes, and ironically, in the 7th class, only four girls sit quietly in one row, in contrast with the 27 restless boys who would start moving around shouting at each other creating a ‘pasar malam’ situation in the classroom, once the teacher is out of sight. Do I have to mention the all 26 boys in the 8th class? And yes, the students are ranked from 1st to the 8th class by their academic performance. My point is, it is just natural in these days that the female students in school are more academically inclined, compared to the more adventurous and physically sporting boys, hence seeing the softer gender dominates the list of top scorers in public examinations.
The First Lady, or any other citizen of the country, should instead be thanking God that the so-called physically weaker gender is dominating the institutions, meaning there are still certain percentages of the males around, showing that hope is still there for man to survive in the world of intellect. 38% proves that at least there is still no sign of extinction, especially when some of the institutions are beginning to show compromise on the qualifying terms for male applicants. (Somehow, with due respect, this reminds me of the Borneo Orangutans in Sabah, and our closer leatherback turtles landing at the beaches to lay eggs.)
There is really nothing to worry when universities and Teachers Training Institutions nationwide are producing more women teachers than men, as their motherly touch makes them better teachers, although some men may beg to differ. As it is, they are already controlling our education system in the schools, and everything seems fine so far. More and more exam candidates score straight A’s year in and year out, which is exactly what parents hope for when sending children to school. I also have no problem when our universities are also producing more female doctors. As proven in the nursing profession, the feminine touch heals better. Ask any normal man (like me), I bet a fortune that he would prefer a female doctor, especially young and sweet, to treat them. On the more serious note, Muslim women patients’ problem, especially mothers-to-be in the labour room are solved. Other professions? Well, being meticulous and fussy in nature, don’t you think that these female undergraduates that we worry about would make better engineers, bankers or even politicians? Bye-bye to corruption, no more collapsing roofs of buildings!
Some people look at this issue as the reason for the declining number of males to lead the various organization, private and government sectors, or even in running the country in the future, which again I beg to differ. So if there are more females in our universities, let it be, so long as the man are still around, as I believe, despite being the minority, they would fairly compete with the girls, become better professionals and later on be the leaders in the various fields. Remember that they need not take the three-month maternity leaves, wondering what to cook for dinner and breakfast everyday, doing the laundry, going to the market or rushing the children to school every morning before work like their female counterparts do! I may sound like a chauvinist, but fact is fact. 8 out of 10 of my female working friends, from clerks to teachers to administrators and even high ranking police officers, would be very proud (shown in their facial expression) telling people about their contributions to their domestic lives, about making the husbands happy, about the joy seeing children growing up healthily, with their ‘feminine and motherly’ touch. Learn at the highest level you can, you will still end up in the kitchen, the Malay elders are quoted to have said about girls opting for higher studies. So women, there may be more of you, but we man are still in control… or in power to be exact.
Having talked about the young ladies mugging their brains out in the campus, why don’t we, for a moment, focus on the young men who could not make it to the universities. For a start, I would look at industrial training centres, before proceeding to the blue collar sector. Most technical skills are just meant for men, especially those that involve smudges of black oil all over the body, working overnight shifts and worst of all, off-shore jobs for weeks, and these skills are not taught in the universities. I would just be contented to know that the number of these skilled men who generate our multiple industries, covers just nice to balance the number of the girls in the higher learning institutions.
Women in the armed forces? Yes they do make beautiful presentable uniformed personnel, perfect to be posted in reception counters of the army camps if not to sit behind the desks going through the management files. Majority of the armed forces personnel are those carrying the M-16s, the bazookas, driving the trucks and tankers, flying the jet fighters, travelling in navy fighter-ships in the sea, preparing to fight their lives out for their country, in case of any invasion. And these have to be the males, another reason why I am not worried that males are outnumbered in universities. The same can also be seen in the police force, as you do not expect a pretty policewoman to give chase to a dangerous and armed criminal, involved in physical combats, or patrolling the dark street of drug addicts and vendors and gangsters in the wee hour of the morning. So let the females mug their head out for the pieces of diplomas or degrees, as the man are doing us proud elsewhere.
So girls, go ahead, carry on with your excellent effort and prove yourselves worthy to the nation. Worry about the number of males around in the campus? I suggest not to, as there are plenty of men out there, doing their parts. Unless you are planning to have only graduates for husbands, accept the fact that the men are also contributing, their own way.