Hi, I’m Georgia and I studied criminology at Lancaster University.
Before university I had never studied criminology or anything like it before. I studied English Language, Religious Studies and Psychology at A Level. The modules that I got taught in these subjects made me realise I enjoyed learning and research. Alongside this I had an interest in understanding crime, specifically counterterrorism. I knew that I wanted to learn more about policy, and societal understandings of things like crime and terrorism, so criminology seemed like the perfect course.
At university I also studied modules in law and politics. I found these both really interesting, and like criminology I had never studied them before university. Studying at university was a positive time for me and I really enjoyed learning and developing my knowledge of crime and counterterrorism. My classes were varied in terms of the proportion of male and female students. My criminology lectures consisted of more girls than boys, whereas my politics lectures consisted of more boys. In terms of teaching there was an even split of male and female lecturers.
In terms of criminology, I never experienced explicit gender stereotyping, perhaps because it was a subject that was dominated by girls. The curriculum was also highly critical of how criminology had been taught historically and the gendered assumptions and stereotypes that had plagued the discipline for too long! However, this isn’t to say that my experience was completely free of the negative impacts of gender stereotyping. I often found that there were frequently subtle comments about the intensity or difficulty of criminology. This included comments that suggested good grades in criminology didn’t count for as much as they would in ‘proper’ science subjects because it’s ‘not as hard’. I can’t help but think that these comments were rooted in gender stereotypes due to the dominance of girls in social sciences compared to the historically male dominated STEM subjects. In the beginning this made me feel like my achievements and good grades weren’t as valid as other people’s grades on different courses. However, I quickly realised that every university course is valid, and everyone works hard to achieve good grades, regardless of the subject.
As well as the comments I received related to my criminology course, I also experienced implicitly, the negative impacts of gender stereotyping in my politics classes. My politics seminar group consisted of a male lecturer and an all-male class except for myself. Whilst I really enjoyed my politics seminars and got on well with the people in my class, I often felt like I had to try harder to ‘prove myself’. For example, during debates I would sometimes be patronised and my comments would be overlooked. Whilst I never felt that these were deliberate attempts to undermine or discredit me, I often came away from my politics seminars feeling disheartened.
This isn’t to say that I had a negative university experience. I loved my time at university and my course and met lots of amazing people! The teaching staff were excellent, and support was provided throughout my four years. I received support from my lecturers, mainly my dissertation supervisor who provided me with lots of reassurance! My female lecturers also provided me with a lot of inspiration whenever I doubted my ability. Seeing their success and achievements was a huge source of motivation during my time at university. University taught me invaluable skills and the importance of believing in my own ability. I would encourage anyone to study criminology, law or politics at university. If you have any questions about my experience or about higher education generally, email us at, email@example.com