It’s time to break the stigma that Dietetics is a field exclusively for women

By Maryam Jameela and Hakim Mahari

GOMBAK, 20 March 2022: Out of 231 who graduated from the Department of Dietetics, Kulliyyah of Allied Health Science, at the 13th session of 36th Convocation, only four of them are men which gave the impression that the course is exclusively meant for women and not for men.

IIUMToday interviewed two male graduands from this department to find out what actually lies behind the gender bias by speaking to Abdullah Hasif bin Hamid and Amirul Akmal bin Rahim who graduated in the field.

According to Abdullah Hasif, such impression is created because the nature of the course tends to fit the characters of women who are normally concerned about diet more than men. In reality, the field of Dietetics mainly focuses in providing general nutrition education, therefore should be applicable to both gender, Abdullah said.

Abdullah Hasif with his wife, Amierah Aizzah, together with his mother at yesterday’s Convocation ceremony

But because of such stigma that has been put into the mind of potential students, males tend to shy away from taking the course.

“Before I enrolled into the course, even my own relatives questioned my decision to take Dietetics as they always thought the field is exclusively for women,” Hasif said.

Due to that stigma, Abdullah Hasif has set his mind to become the game changer to this field as he believed that every woman and man needs to compete with each other, regardless of gender.

In advocating this field for all, Abdullah Hasif has taken upon himself by developing an educational website which focuses on educating people on nutritional knowledge.

Another graduate of the Department of Dietetics, Amirul Akmal bin Rahim who is currently pursuing his master’s in the field at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), agreed with Hasif’s effort as this field, according to him, is less known to the society. 

As men were the minority in the department, this has made the four of them to stay together throughout their studies to face whatever challenges, Amirul Akmal admitted.

“There has been some misunderstanding between men and women in communicating with each other on the course, but as IIUM students, we learned how to handle our emotions and ego.

“We need to calm down and not to take it too seriously. It’s just a matter of finishing work together, at the end of it all problems are solved,” he further said. 

Meanwhile, Abdullah Hasif shares Amirul Akmal’s view as he finds that the concept of helpfulness is significant in creating good communication between their classmates as this concept is gender-free and depends on the individuals.  

Amirul Akmal also expressed his gratitude to be given an opportunity to discover this course which to him is something that deals with our daily lives on the need to eat healthy food and to take care of out diet.

“When we go deeper, the field relates to medical as well as sports and food industry. When I venture into this field, it opens up space to continue my studies and I look forward to career in this field,” he added. 

Asked about how to maintain good relationship between classmates, Amirul Akmal said despite dominance of females in the class, they stressed the need to learn to be professional.

“To survive, it’s all about professionalism, even though male students are few, we learned from each other and gained knowledge among friends,” he emphasised.***

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