From the Principal

Gender Issues

Crisis, which Crisis?

Is there a boys’ education crisis in schools today? Boys are falling far behind girls in school-leaving exams and at university to the extent that a University Admissions Centre (UAC) analysis of results found that being male was “greater than any of the other recognised disadvantages we looked at”.


Is there built in anti-female bias in education and society? Up to 98 per cent of Australian girls feel gender inequality, a survey suggests. A survey of more than 1700 Aussie girls has discovered most feel they are treated unequally to boys in most aspects of their lives. Plan International Australia surveyed more than 1700 girls aged 10 to 17 about their experiences of inequality and discovered 98 per cent believed they were unfairly treated particularly in sport, the media, as well as at school and home.

St Columba aims to offer its “World of Opportunities” to all our students. While that attitude has been a part of our school culture from its beginnings, it still surprises some people.

Some time ago, during a school tour, a parent commented on the “Chemistry Wall of Fame” (Band 6 in HSC Chemistry) in one of our Science labs.

This prospective parent was surprised that girls outnumbered boys! I will admit that, until that moment, I had never noticed this.

Further considering gender and educational outcomes at St Columba, I note that our most professionally successful dancers have been males, some of our most successful musicians have been males and some of our best designers, scientists and mathematicians have been female.

Unlike many schools, gender does not seem to hold great sway in the areas our students seek to excel.

Put simply, it is almost unnoticed that at St Columba, boys sing, dance and perform and girls excel in Mathematics and Science.

The gender stereotypes of what are “male” and “female” areas of expression and success seem largely absent in the daily life of our school’s culture.

I am not deluded enough to know that some negative gender issues follow some students onto our campus and we are not always immune to the wider gender issues that often dog our society.

“New research conducted for International Women’s Day on behalf of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership in London, shows that Australian men have some of the most sexist views in the Western world…..Almost one-third of those surveyed believe that traditional masculinity is under threat while more than one-quarter said that feminism did more harm than good.….” SMH, March 12, 2022.


“Girls and women are generally expected to dress in typically feminine ways and be polite, accommodating, and nurturing. Men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. Every society, ethnic group, and culture has gender role expectations, but they can be very different from group to group.”

At St Columba, we hope that our students feel free to express their varied talents in the best and most positive manner possible, without the constraints of negative societal expectations in regard to gender, culture, race etc.

Silly for it to be otherwise.

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at

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