The places I have worked provide anecdotal evidence that this is true. Women teachers and students have always been the majority. For instance, at my first job, I worked with two female teachers and at company meetings it was clear this was true for most of the other schools (except for the foreign staff). This also held true when I worked in Taiwan. Anywhere where the education was optional, female students always outnumbered male students. Where I work in the UK the majority of the full time teachers are female (8 to 2), but only one of the four senior tutors is. A few years ago when we held an interview for the top job, all five candidates were men. The university I’m currently seconded at has 10 or so English professors but only one who is female. I don’t think this is by design, but I do think it’s interesting.
A 2012 study (N127 double-blind) found that scientists discriminated against female job applicants, giving them lower ratings in “competence and hireability” than male applicants with identical qualifications. The startling thing about this report is that there was no difference found in ratings between those ranking the applicants. That is, women employers were equally likely to be biased against female applicants as men were.
We know there are differences in the way men and women speak, and there is quite a bit of writing about sexism and gender in EFL materials but less about the actual industry as a whole. if we employ the same arguments English as the Lingua Franca folk apply about the number of NNS of English indicating the need to move away from NS norms, doesn’t the number of women, both teachers and students likewise indicate a need for a more equal distribution of influential/prestigious positions in the EFL world?
giving women in EFL more confidence; improving the status of women teachers of EFL and making sure that they get equal opportunities for promotion; and improving the portrayal of women in language-teaching materials.(Walter & Florent 1989:180)
The organisation held conferences and there was even, at one point a magazine devoted to female TEFL teachers called ETHEl (Byram 2001:231) I have no idea what happened in 1995 to bring an end to the movement, -perhaps everthing became equal then?
So is this just my slant on things or are things really somewhat uneven in the EFL world? I would love to hear your opinions. What’s it like where you work? If you know what happened to “women in TEFL” or used to be a member, please get in touch.
2014 update: Potential positive developments in the ‘fair list’. One to keep an eye on (Thanks Tyson)