What the research says about the future of post-secondary education for women

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about how there was a gap in post-graduate education for female undergraduates. 

I was struck by how the gap was still so large.

And when I looked at how many degrees there were, the gap didn’t look like it was closing any time soon.

The gap is not narrowing.

Instead, it’s getting bigger. 

It was, I thought, a bit of a surprise to see a paper published last week in the Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP) that analyzed the distribution of degrees awarded to women in different countries over time.

It found that the distribution has shifted dramatically in recent years.

This is what JAP has to say about the study: The gender gap in undergraduate education has widened in the past 10 years.

More women than men completed their undergraduate education in 2016. 

The U.S. has more than 1.2 million female college graduates (the number of degrees earned by women in 2016 is about 3.3 million).

This translates to an annual growth rate of about 2 percent.

That growth rate is not far off from what other developed countries saw in the 1970s and 1980s.

Women now hold about 60 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded by U.K. universities.

Australia has more women than any other country in the world, with more than 400,000 degrees awarded in 2016 alone.

In contrast, Canada has about 400,00 women graduates in their undergraduate programs.

Canada’s female graduate program has grown by just over 25 percent since 2000. 

In France, which has a higher proportion of female graduates than any country in Europe, the number of women’s degrees earned is nearly 30 percent lower than in the United States. 

Canada’s overall female graduate population is expected to increase by over 25,000 in 2020 compared to 2020, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

“What we are seeing is that women are graduating into the workforce at higher rates than men and it is a clear indication that there are still gaps in educational attainment,” says Anne Kavorkian, the associate director of the Graduate Program in Women’s Education at the University of Toronto.

“We also have women taking on new roles in the labour market, which are critical for their continued employment and career success.”

Kavarkian says the problem of women missing out on the work force is a big concern for her.

“In the workplace, there is a huge difference between women who are paid to do the job and women who actually perform it,” she says. 

What’s driving the gender gap?

Kavarkia says there are two main factors that have contributed to the gender gaps.

One is that the pay gap has narrowed over time, meaning women are able to enter the labour force without having to fight to get a promotion.

The other is that employers have more discretion in choosing where to pay female employees.

So what can we do about it?

Kavaras work is to get employers to take the initiative to hire women, which is a key part of any work-life balance plan. 

Kavarams work is also focused on increasing female participation in the workforce and getting more women to graduate, something that she says employers and governments are well aware of. 

“It is a critical issue, and we have an opportunity to start a conversation about it and create change in the way we think about the role of women in our society,” Kavarnas says.

“In order to address the gap, it is important to do more to get more women into the workplace.

It’s also important to start making sure that the educational system reflects a more gender-balanced and diverse set of degrees that are more aligned with the skills that are needed.” 

What else is changing? 

Kovaras also says that she thinks it’s important to address inequities in the number and types of women who graduate from universities.

“We need to change the culture of university in Canada, and it has to change from a system where we have this ‘women-only’ culture,” she explains.

“The universities need to take on more of a ‘women’s role’ role in the process of learning.” 

How can we make it happen? 

One way to start is to support institutions that have a gender-sensitive curriculum and are committed to gender equity.

Kavarpas works with the Canadian Association of Universities (CAU), which is one of the organizations that recently launched a gender equity course in the U.T.K., the CAU says that it’s already working with some institutions to make sure that they have gender-inclusive programming and to make them more gender balanced. 

There’s also a new federal funding program that allows institutions to get funding to develop gender-neutral curriculum materials for students and teachers.