Fine Gael Senator says "toxic masculinity" is stopping female students from studying metalwork and woodwork 4 months ago

Fine Gael Senator says "toxic masculinity" is stopping female students from studying metalwork and woodwork

"It's supposed to be a welcoming and gender-neutral environment."

A Fine Gael Senator has said that a "culture of toxic masculinity" is preventing female students from studying topics that have historically been taken by male students.

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Regina Doherty made the comments on Newstalk Breakfast on Friday morning (13 May).

"When I say what I have to say, I have to preface it by [saying] the school my children are going to is a progressive school, it's a mixed school and they do offer all of the subjects, which is great," Doherty said.

"But I still think we have a culture issue in those progressive schools. I have a daughter who is doing woodwork for Junior Cert, she has a best friend who is doing metalwork for Junior Cert.

"Neither of them will take those subjects for Leaving Cert because they are the only girls in the class, and the environment just isn't a nice or great or cultured place for them to be," Doherty added.

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"If we don't have an equality of access for both boys and girls to traditionally male and female subjects, and cross the borders of what the traditional stereotypes are, we're going to continue to have the toxic masculinity environment that will then determine, albeit maybe subliminally, what our young woman choose to do when they go to third level."

Doherty cited "banter, slagging and isolation" as examples of the environment created.

"It isn't as 'toxic' as maybe we might think it is, but it's just not a comfortable learning environment," she said.

"School is supposed to be about a hell of a lot more than just learning the particular topics, it's supposed to be growing and developing, changing and interchanging views. It's supposed to be a welcoming, and gender-neutral environment."

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Doherty argued that schools need to do more to work on creating a welcoming culture and environment for all students.

"We still have so much more [work to do around] a culture and an environment to make sure it is welcoming, for not just our girls in traditionally male subjects, but also for our non-binary, our LGBT students, our trans kids.

"There's so much more that we need to do, and it roots right back to not only doing proper RSE education in school, not as an afterthought but as a proper mandated and mandatory taught course in school.

"It shouldn't be two or three classes a week, it should five classes a week, and it should be so much more, because we need to teach our young people about consent.

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"All of the ramifications of the lack of knowledge, awareness or training from a very young ages manifests itself in us having to try and deal with a massive increase in domestic violence, and a massive increase in the reporting of rape."