By: Sama Al Miqbali
Translated from Arabic by Habiba Al Hinai
According to one study, girls outperform boys in school. In 2015, for example, girls outperformed boys in a reading competition in 69 of the tested countries. The norm in our societies is that girls are more concentrated in studying. That is why their grades are high, but on the other hand, not a little number of our girls do not go to universities or work after graduation. The number of working women in the Middle East is less than 1: 5 of employees. Now, let’s go further and talk about the status of girls and women in the Sultanate of Oman.
According to the Omani Law, article 13 of the Cultural Principles, “Justice, equality and equal opportunities among Omanis are the pillars of society guaranteed by the state”.
But the gender gap for university seats has widened in Oman. It is no secret to anyone that the first university in Oman, the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), suffers from clear discrimination in terms of competitive rates, as shown in the table below:
For example, in 2009 the engineering department of the SQU rejected 723 women who could have obtained a seat in the College of Engineering based on their grades in the entrance exam, but unfortunately the problem is not in the grades, but rather because they are females in a university that applies a male system. According to the acceptance rates and the strategy used at the university, the chances of admission for men are more at SQU, as males represent 9 out of 10 students in the academic admission test.
The “male quota” is the system which is followed by the SQU in the distribution of percentages and seats, but the problem we have here is that competition is not between the two sexes, but rather all sexes compete with their peers, so males compete with males and females compete with females.
Accordingly, higher percentages are imposed on females than males. The result is that male students get seats that they do not deserve Although there are more females deserving of the university seat and consequently, females students lose their seats even if their rates are high, and despite fulfilling all the admission requirements for the required specialization!
Isn’t this unfair to female students not to be accepted at a similar rate to males only because they are “females” while we know well that both sexes study the same curriculum ?!
Where is justice in that? Why are not equal opportunities given to both sexes, and each of them can apply for the university seat based on his diligence and competence?
While the common sense says that both sexes are required to prove their competence by competing for the academic seat under the same conditions without discrimination.
It is strange what happened about two weeks ago when the admission results appeared, and the girls demanded their right to obtain seats without discrimination and expressed their objection to the system through the hashtag “no discrimination in the allocation of university seats”:
A large segment of society justified the inequality of these percentages, and they rejected any change in the system with false excuses and traditional arguments and considered it a normal matter. It is a double standard, when the Omani women demanded a political quota (the Shura Council elections), she was demanded to demonstrate her merit and entitlement to win a seat in the shura council (The Omani Parliament).
I think that the main reason behind this is the excessive pampering for males and the expansion of opportunities for them on a plate of gold, even if they do not obtain high grades, they will enter the educational institution at his low rate – compared to the girls – only for being a male.
Excessive pampering produces a burden. When male students are guaranteed the availability of all higher education facilities, the effort that he exerts will decrease, and his academic level will also decrease.
Not to mention the masculine ideas and concepts implanted in the minds of males and society that justify their neglection, and at the same time parents set high expectations for their daughters. Thus, males become more neglected and perform worse than females. Among the flimsy justifications used to justify discrimination is that “If the opportunities are equal, girls will get all the seats , while boys will get none” and that “the males have more obligations” and the list goes on.
A societal problem cannot be solved with a larger problem, the problem must be solved at its roots. If a boy’s life begins to depend on his masculinity and recklessly studying and ensuring a seat, how he will grow up as a matured and a responsible man who is capable to start a family?
Therefore, equal opportunities must be provided for both sexes. This may cause a drop in the number of males entering the university, but in the long run the outcome will be equal and more fair because they are based on their diligence, competence and entitlement to the university seat.
Meanwhile Institutions are required to study this problem and suggest solutions which causes male students to get low results then girls.
SQU official account for admission and registration
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OAHR