Is August the Silly Season?
August and silly season are words that usually mean there is a lack of “real” news, and issues covered by the media are of minor importance.
But summer coverage does seem to have the power to create myths and misconceptions that can last the rest of the year...
Take one from last week and which is likely to be repeated this week: “Girls do better than boys”. This refers to the numbers of girls getting good grades at GCSE and A level and going to university. It is usually portrayed as either a good news story for girls or a bad news story for boys.
In the long term the news about exam results is neither of these. It is in fact a bad news story for girls and young women. It should read something like: despite working harder and being more successful at school and university women continue to lose out in the workplace. The gender pay gap remains, women are much more likely than men to be stuck in a narrow range of jobs many of which are low paid, and over 100,000 more young women than young men are not in any form of education, employment or training. If exam results are as important as they are made out to be, surely it would be young men who would be more likely to be NEET.
It might even be a good news story for young men. It could read something like: despite having lower qualifications and fewer degrees, young men have the potential to earn more, have more secure jobs and be offered a much broader range of opportunities than women. Not much point really working hard at exam results then!
News about young people is definitely not silly – and neither are they. Let’s get the story straight.