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February 08, 2007

Higher Female Enrollment at Universities

My old hometown paper, the Montreal Gazette, had an interesting series this week called "Degrees of Separation". Do you know that across Canada, more than 60 percent of university students are women? A decade ago, it was split 50/50. The gap is even larger at the French universities in Quebec. It's interesting that when I was at Princeton the ratio was about 60/40 male/female (it's about even now) and this was a source of common complaint from the men, but the women don't seem too fazed by the reverse.

The series is in five parts: A woman's place ("There are no plans to adopt affirmative action policies or otherwise alter entrance criteria to beef up male enrolments"), Women learn better, faster ("But among younger students...it's the girls who immediately buckle down, do the required readings and put in extra lab time"), When women take the field ("Female doctors now make up 36 per cent of the province's general practitioners and specialists - but two-thirds of physicians under the age of 40"), Why female academics drop out ("The 'leaky pipe' phenomenon describes the tendency of women in science to slip away after each level of study at a far greater rate than men do"), and Academic amazons puzzle over work/life equation ("'Women's entry into the job market has been dramatic; men's entry into housework has been gradual'").

Here's a few more quotes: "Already, more than half of Canada's doctors and dentists are women. Given the current trend, odds are by 2015, your pediatrician, investment broker, family veterinarian, divorce lawyer and therapist will be a woman, but your computer technician, housing contractor, electrical engineer, orthopedic surgeon and member of Parliament will still probably be a man" and also "Universities still welcome thousands of brilliant young men with ambition, dedication and drive. However, women now outnumber men in all but a smattering of disciplines, notably mathematics, engineering and computer science." Or how about "Girls, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the women's movement and programs created to overcome historical disadvantages. Throw in a supportive environment and strong role models - a father who's an engineer, a mother who is a doctor, or a math teacher who pushes the girls to succeed - and these daughters of the feminist 1970s and '80s are taking flight, leaving the boys next door to fiddle with their iPods and video games." Of course, fiddling with video games--or more precisely WRITING video games, which I guess isn't the same thing--is what taught me how to program and led me to where I am today.

Posted by AdamBa at February 8, 2007 08:32 PM

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