Programme aims to provide graduates with an in-depth knowledge of differences between men and women Renowned author John Gray, who specialises in relationships and personal growth, wrote Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, which focuses on the differences between men and women in order to develop better understanding between the sexes. In recognition of this, the Chinese University of Hong Kong offers a Master of Arts in Gender Studies to provide graduates with better comprehension of these differences. Since the 1990s, public awareness of gender issues has increased, prompting demand for such a course. 'Gender is a very important dimension in life,' said director of the programme and associated professor, Dora Choi Po-king. 'It has an impact on society, personal life, job and family. There are many stereotypes in our society like blue is a boys' colour and pink is a girls' colour. What are the reasons for all of these? The programme looks at these issues from a cultural, psychological, historical and sociological perspective.' Gender studies attracts application from all walks of life. Yeung Yang, a lecturer on the course, said: 'There are people from various industries on the course. We have students who work in educational organisations, in the media and management people from business sector. 'There are also students who took up the course for personal interest rather than to further their careers. There is a housewife in my class who is doing the course to get to know more about the different life stages of a woman.' Lo Hon-man, a graduate of the course, has a career in webpage design. He took the course because of an interest in culture and psychology. 'The programme gave me a whole new vision of how I look at society,' he said. 'There are many minority groups in society which I had never heard of previously. On top of classroom lectures, this programme includes a number of visits to homosexual and sex workers' organisations. It led me to have deeper thoughts when I look at social issues and inspired me to become more aware of what is happening in society.' The course is also popular among those in education and the media. Gillian Kew, who is doing the programme, is an academic editor. She joined the course to gain a deeper insight into different cultures to help with her job. 'The course widened my horizons and improved my general knowledge,' she said. 'As an editor I have to look into many different topics. The course provided me with insights into minority groups and subcultures in Hong Kong which are beneficial for my work. 'Getting more knowledge in these areas enabled me to produce pieces which are of a higher quality. The course also increased my prospects of other job opportunities. With the qualifications I received from this course I will be able to work for non-governmental organisations and educational organisations.' There are also management people from business sectors on the course because they want to learn more about managing staff. Men and women staff exist in most companies and the two groups often see things differently. If management have a better understanding of how their respective male and female staff think they will hopefully be able to communicate better with them. Doctor Yeung said: 'I have a male student who has to deal with many females at work. He doesn't really have a clue how women think and finds it difficult to co-operate with them. He took this course in the hope that he would have smoother communication with his female co-workers.' Doctor Yeung suggested there were solid reasons why the majority of the students on the programme were women. 'The programme leads us to think about the differences between men and women,' he said. 'In society men are on the strong side, they are the privileged groups, so they are less critical in their attitudes. Women are more aware of being suppressed and they want to know why. 'Many students, especially female students, come to class with a bunch of questions about life. That is why so many women attend the course. I hope that in the future men can become more aware of the impact of gender on society and hopefully more men will be interested in the programme.' The course, which was introduced in 2002, produces about 20 graduates each year. Students can choose to study one year full-time or two years part-time. The course is comprised of face-to-face lectures and occasional visits. Students have to complete eight core subjects with a total of 24 credits in order to graduate.