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Women win majority of academic awards

Women students have won the majority of academic awards being presented at Victoria University’s student award ceremonies on June 7 and 8. Of the 416 awards, 255 – sixty-one percent – have been won by women.

Victoria University Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Roger Robinson linked the women’s success to their rising participation rate in tertiary education. “The trend over the last two decades has been towards an increasing ratio of women in the upper levels of New Zealand education,” he said.
The latest (1998) figures for all New Zealand show 58,889 women at university compared to 49,048 men.

“Women have also become a majority in areas such as law, traditionally a male preserve,” said Professor Robinson.

However, Professor Robinson said that until recently, men continued to dominate the higher levels of study in most subjects. “This year’s Victoria awards show that has also been reversed,” he said.

“This need not mean that men are under-achieving. It could simply be that women are now taking opportunities previously closed or unattractive to them. However, it may be that men are being put off attending university by high student fees and the prospect of lifetime debt. If this is so, it is very serious.”

Professor Robinson said the higher number of mature women students may also have a part-economic explanation. “They are certainly a group from which many of the best students now come, which is encouraging socially as well as academically.”

Professor Robinson is currently editing Julius Vogel’s 1889 novel Anno Domini 2000, which prophesies a world in which women hold all the superior positions. “It looks as if this new edition is going to be rather timely,” he said.

Victoria’s female award winners include Chemistry BSc (honours) student Bridget Stocker, of Lower Hutt. Ms Stocker, who has a BSc in Chemistry and a BCA in Management, has won five awards, including a Victoria University Graduate Award, the Curtis-Gordon research scholarship in Chemistry, a Victoria Science Scholarship, the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry 300 Level Prize and a Freemasons Scholarship.

“Bridget is an outstanding student with a brilliant career ahead of her,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Jim Johnston. “Her work with Dr John Hoberg on anti-cancer agents has the potential to make cancer treatments more effective and reduce the number of undesirable side-effects.”

During the award ceremonies students who have been awarded 1999 prizes and awards and 2000 scholarships will be congratulated by Acting Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp and presented with a certificate.

The ceremonies are to be held in the Memorial Theatre, Student Union Building, Victoria University, at 6.15 pm on Wednesday, June 7 (Faculties of Commerce & Administration and Science) and 6.15 pm on Thursday, June 8 (Faculties of Law and Humanities & Social Sciences). Each ceremony will be followed by a reception in the foyer of the Memorial Theatre.

Victoria University Wellington

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