My personal story
I: What are you studying now?
R: International development?
I: And you've got ambition to go abroad again?
R: Yeah, eventually. Although, I think that, after I graduate, I probably come back here for a couple of years. Yeah, I'm interested in working in Irish Aid in Dublin and that kind of thing...
I: Is it more boys or girls in your study?
R: Oh, it is definitely more girls. Definitely more girls. I don't know if that is just our year, that like, our year is more girls. Some of the classes have more guys, but they would be classes that the university pools and stuff like that. But I think definitely last year, because we used to have those things where we would be divided into modules, whereas in the first year in the first semester, you pretty much take everything together. So, it is kind of easier to get a sense of that I think, but at that point, yeah there was definitely more girls. It is interesting because our degree also has a joint degree that you can do, which is development studies and then environmental studies and in that group I think it is a lot of guys and I think.
I: Why do you think guys chose the environmental thing?
R: I mean it might be some cliché along the line that the environmental stuff is real science and very clear and very certain. Like a lot of the development theories are kind of like: 'here's a bunch of theories of possible things and case studies and it all went different ways and you know there is no kind of concrete answer to a lot of questions. Kind of like: here's a question and when you're done you'll have a ton more questions. Answers not so much, but questions, sure! So I don't know, I don't know very many of the guys who do environmental studies and I should ask, but I think also a lot of them are kind of 'outdoor' people as well so the environmental stuff appeals to them. But I think in the environmental grade itself there might be more girls as well. I think it is just interesting that in the group that I think does international development studies, there's more boys, but not all that much, I don't know. A funny little group though, you can kind of identify them wandering about and they just kind of look more 'eco' somehow. I think it is interesting as well because, like, the three different streams that you can chose are economics, social and anthropology and natural resources and you can chose 2 out of 3. And is interesting to see how people divide between economics and the social. Like, I don't know if you're thinking that there is a general kind of like: economics of more of a guys’ thing, and social is more for girls. It is interesting that you see some of the girls just really, like some of the women, really just look at that social stuff like: 'oh, no that is too airy fairy, no stuff for me, I'm doing economics and natural resources and those are concrete and real sciences, like real studies. Actually a friend who did that, she went: ‘oh, no the social stuff!’ and then she took for her third module - she wanted to take something else, but it got full her class - and she ended up having to take one on gender and development. And the first time she went like: 'oh God, what is this gender and development, oh, something silly about women!’ And afterwards she was like: 'oh, that was so illuminating and so interesting and fascinating and kind of important!'. And I was like: ‘thanks!’ It was interesting that she was so surprised by it. Maybe it was like me and economics, I also don't like economics. But I think I also have a lot of preconceptions that go into it. And I think I find the models and the kind mathematics really difficult to follow and the model can be irritating because it is not because it happened here that you can transfer the model to some other place, you know.
I: Any other gender differences that you notice at the university?
R: Well, my university is in England, so I don't know if that is really relevant here, but some of the differences between Ireland and England actually for me because it is like. I feel it is like... girls in England dress kind of a lot more kind of 'wavy' lots of flower prints and skirts all the time, like it is kind of crazy, or shorts, like short shorts! They seem skinnier over there. I don't know, gender differences are kind of hard to deal with in England because I kind of find England confusing still, like I've only been there two years and I kind of find it weird. Because it is like people say that the British are reserved, but I don't find that quite the right word for it but I totally know what they mean when they say it. So it's kind of like, I don't know, I don't have very many English friends. I have mostly international friends. Which I think is interesting, that even though they come from a lot of different countries, they come together. I had a lot of American friends the first year. They were all here for a year. (the respondent talks a bit about the university and the interviewer knows people at that university).
Gender did matter