Examining the Gender Differentials in the Application for STEM Fields: Findings from the University of Lagos
Building on secondary data, this paper seeks to make two contributions to literature.
First, to present a description of the sex differentials in course applications into Nigerian
universities, using the University of Lagos as a sample and second, to describe the
variation in the selection of courses in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics (STEM) by prospective students that are females. Findings showed that
female applications for degree programmes were higher than male applications in most
fields, including some core science fields which involve human-oriented professions like
pharmacology and medicine. Nevertheless, the overall statistics revealed that the
proportion of male applicants were fractionally higher during the four sessions under
review. The sex differentials were highest in engineering and environmental sciences
fields where male applications outnumbered female applications by a ratio of about three
to one. Furthermore, female applicants were more likely to choose biological, peopleoriented and care-centred fields, leading to female apathy towards engineering and other
technical programmes, especially those with mathematics, physics and geography as core
subjects. We, therefore, recommend the development of nationwide programmes aimed at
dispelling gendered misconceptions about certain fields, especially STEM fields. This is
very essential in a world where science and technology define national economies.
Nigeria cannot afford to leave half her population behind.