The Reversal of Gender Inequalities in Higher Education

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10 THE REVERSAL OF GENDER INEQUALITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION AN ON GOING TREND. F or many years men have received a better education than women In OECD member. countries more men than women went on to higher education and obtained more degrees. Since the mid 1990s however the gender gap has mainly been to the disadvantage of men. To the extent that girls and boys share the same homes and the same social environments. it might be thought that greater egalitarianism between the sexes would have led to. educational equality of the sexes rather than to inequalities to the detriment of men Is this. reversal of gender inequalities a temporary or permanent phenomenon Will its social. consequences be as great as the impact that gender inequalities had on women These are. the two questions that this chapter proposes to explore The first section analyses the. gender differences in participation in higher education and degree awards in OECD. member countries and extrapolates these differences to 2025 It also underlines the. marked gender differences in choice of study options The second section outlines the. main explanations for the reversal of gender inequalities while the third and final section. discusses whether they will last and their potential social implications. 10 1 Gender inequalities in higher education international trends. International trends in gender inequalities in higher education can be determined by. examining the changes in the composition of the student population in higher education. the relative share of degrees awarded to women each year the levels of education attained. by men and women and lastly the differences between the subjects studied by men and. Participation in higher education trends in the gender gap. Until the 1990s there were on average more male than female students in OECD. member countries Women were disadvantaged by inequalities in access to higher. education Since then inequalities to the detriment of men have emerged in almost all. countries Table 10 1 shows that women accounted for 46 of students in higher education. in 1985 1 2 men for every woman However the faster increase in female participation in. higher education has reversed the trend in OECD member countries but not in most of the. rest of the world Of the 18 countries for which data were available in 1985 and 2005. women students were in the majority in 5 countries in 1985 compared with 16 in 2005. In 2005 the average share of the student population accounted for by women amounted to. 55 in the OECD area 1 2 women to every man Figure 10 1 If past trends were to. continue the inequalities to the detriment of men would be well entrenched at the. aggregate level in 2025 with some 1 4 female students for every male In some countries. Austria Canada Iceland Norway the United Kingdom there could be almost twice as. many female students as male A linear projection of recent trends shows that only four. countries would fail to achieve at least parity between men and women by 2015 Korea. Turkey Japan and Switzerland even though the last two would be very close with a female. student population of 47 and 49 respectively in 2015 The probability ratios of women. and men entering into higher education are rising in all countries indicating a narrowing. 266 HIGHER EDUCATION TO 2030 VOLUME 1 DEMOGRAPHY ISBN 978 92 64 04065 6 OECD 2008. 10 THE REVERSAL OF GENDER INEQUALITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION AN ON GOING TREND. Table 10 1 Percentage of women students in higher education. past twenty years and projections,1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2015 2020 2025. Australia m m 50 54 54 55 55 56,Austria 44 45 48 51 54 61 66 72. Belgium 47 49 49 52 54 58 59 60,Canada 49 54 53 56 58 60 62 64. Czech Republic m m 48 50 53 53 54 54,Denmark 48 50 52 57 57 59 59 60. Finland 49 52 53 54 54 54 53 53,France 52 53 55 54 55 56 57 57.
Germany m m 43 48 50 54 56 58,Greece m m 49 50 51 53 53 53. Hungary m m 52 54 58 59 60 60,Iceland m m 58 62 65 67 67 68. Ireland 43 45 49 54 55 58 58 59,Italy 45 48 52 56 57 57 57 57. Japan m 41 44 45 46 47 47 48,Korea m m 35 36 37 38 39 40. Luxembourg m m m m m M m m,Mexico m m 47 49 50 52 52 52.
Netherlands 41 44 47 50 51 53 54 54,New Zealand 46 52 55 59 59 59 60 60. Norway 50 53 55 58 60 63 64 65,Poland m m m 58 58 58 58 58. Portugal 53 m 57 57 56 56 56 56,Slovak Republic m m m 50 55 58 59 59. Spain 48 51 53 53 54 55 55 55,Sweden 52 53 55 58 60 62 63 63. Switzerland 32 34 37 43 46 49 51 52,Turkey 31 34 38 40 42 43 43 43.
United Kingdom 45 48 51 54 57 65 68 71,United States 52 54 55 56 57 60 61 62. Average 46 48 50 52 54 56 57 58,Comparable average 46 48 51 53 55 57 58 59. Note The gross enrolment rates by gender were derived by linear regression from the changes between 1998. and 2005 and applied to the corresponding age cohorts according to UN projections. of the gender gap in the four countries mentioned above and a widening of the gender gap. to the detriment of men in all the others However this strengthening of inequalities is. primarily attributable to stronger growth in female participation compared with that of. males With the exception of Austria Canada and the United Kingdom where male. participation measured in terms of gross enrolment rates has fallen slightly over the last. decade the number of men entering into higher education continues to grow Thus a. young man still has more chance of receiving higher education in 2005 than in previous. decades and if recent trends continue he will have a greater chance of entering into higher. education in 2025 than he did in 2005, To the extent that in some countries more women resume their studies or follow. vocational rather than general higher education programmes it is possible that these. averages conceal trends less favourable to women within the system. HIGHER EDUCATION TO 2030 VOLUME 1 DEMOGRAPHY ISBN 978 92 64 04065 6 OECD 2008 267. 10 THE REVERSAL OF GENDER INEQUALITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION AN ON GOING TREND. Figure 10 1 Share of females in tertiary education enrolments. 1995 2005 and projections,2005 1995 2025,N e un r k. Un Z e r y,i t e Ic a y,S w M ex n,o v Ir g e, Does the trend reflect age related participation models.
The international data do not permit analysis by age cohort Nevertheless data on the. sex and age of students over the past decade are available for a great many countries In the. OECD area women were on average in the majority or at parity with men in all the age. cohorts for which data were collected in 2005 1 In one OECD country for example 54 of. students under the age of 24 years were women In most OECD member countries the. share of women in the youngest student population is either close to or above the average. share except in Iceland 59 of women among students under 24 New Zealand 55. Sweden 56 and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom 54 and the United States. 55 Between 1998 and 2005 the share of women increased in all age groups for which. data were collected For students aged over 40 the 23 OECD member countries for which. information was available had on average a similar proportion of women in 1998 and 2005. 52 and 54 respectively On the other hand the typical gender gap across countries is. three times greater for students over 40 than it is for other age groups In 2005 the. percentage share of students over 40 accounted for by women exceeded the percentage. share of women in the under 24 population by 10 or more in some countries Hungary. Iceland New Zealand Norway the Slovak Republic Sweden the United Kingdom while. the reverse was true in Turkey However insofar as students over 40 represent on average. only 8 of the student population in OECD countries compared with 61 of the under. 24 population the sex of the older students has little impact on the overall gender. composition of student populations, Are there significant differences according to the type of higher education followed. by men and women, The international data do not allow an in depth response to this question firstly. because the historical series pre 1998 are not sufficiently detailed and secondly because. the International Standard Classification of Education ISCED does not distinguish. between types of institutions but rather between types of education general higher. 268 HIGHER EDUCATION TO 2030 VOLUME 1 DEMOGRAPHY ISBN 978 92 64 04065 6 OECD 2008. 10 THE REVERSAL OF GENDER INEQUALITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION AN ON GOING TREND. education ISCED 5 can therefore be provided by different types of institution in terms of. status and perception at national level In Japan junior colleges tanki daigaku are. institutions where women students are very much in the majority while men still remain. in the majority in the universities In the Netherlands women far outnumber men in the. HBOs higher vocational colleges while men are more numerous in the universities In the. United States the share of women in community colleges is higher than in universities even. if women are also over represented in the elite universities which in some cases have. introduced admission criteria that favour men Long 2007 Bailey and Smith Morest 2006. In Israel women are relatively more numerous in colleges than in universities where they. are also in the majority among other things because colleges train students for teaching. which is an essentially female profession Shavit et al 2007 However this trend is by no. means systematic in Germany the Fachhochschulen admit a majority of men which is no. longer the case of the universities whose status is more prestigious BMBF 2005. The international data do however allow the composition of the student population. to be broken down by type of higher education since 1998 In 2005 there was virtually no. difference in the gender composition of the student population in technical higher. education ISCED 5B and that in general higher education ISCED 5A although there. were slightly more women in higher technical education than general higher education 2. Table 10 2 shows that between 1998 and 2005 the two sectors converged the percentage. of women in general higher education increased and declined in higher technical. education It should be noted however that the averages hide a greater difference across. countries for vocational higher education than for the other two levels In Austria the. Czech Republic Germany Japan and the United Kingdom the share of women in. vocational higher education is over 10 higher than in general higher education the. reverse being true in Denmark Poland Finland Iceland and Sweden also have. contrasting models but technical higher education is not quantitatively significant in. those countries, The situation remains slightly different for doctoral students since at this level. ISCED 6 the average share of the student population accounted for by women in one. OECD country amounted to 45 while in 7 of the 28 countries women were in the majority. A catching up effect is nonetheless visible even over a relatively short period of time. Table 10 2 and Figure 10 2 In the 24 countries for which data were available in 1998. and 2005 a rise of 7 and an average share of 46 can be observed the weighted average. for the OECD area being 47 or 1 1 men for every woman The trend is therefore no. different at this level even if the catching up has been slower The same situation can. sometimes be observed in the most elitist higher education institutions In France women. are still in the minority in the Grandes Ecoles d Ing nierie Engineering Schools but not in the. Grandes Ecoles de Commerce Business Schools Moreover some of these schools did not. admit women until the 1970s Givord and Goux 2007 Even though a PhD can provide. access to certain prestigious professions students enrolled at this level in one OECD. country accounted on average to only 3 of the student population in 2005 and 2 of all. students enrolled in the OECD area,Conclusion, The last few decades have been marked by greater growth in the participation of. women than men in higher education which initially led to a reduction in gender. inequalities and their subsequent reversal On average there are more women than men. HIGHER EDUCATION TO 2030 VOLUME 1 DEMOGRAPHY ISBN 978 92 64 04065 6 OECD 2008 269. 10 THE REVERSAL OF GENDER INEQUALITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION AN ON GOING TREND. Table 10 2 Percentage share of women in the different sectors of higher education. and size of sector 1998 2005, Theoretical higher Practical higher Advanced research Theoretical higher Practical higher Advanced research.
ISCED 5A ISCED 5B ISCED 6 ISCED 5A ISCED 5B ISCED 6. total total total total total total,women women women women women women. students students students students students students. Australia 72 55 26 52 3 44 80 55 16 53 4 50,Austria 81 49 10 61 9 40 83 53 10 68 6 45. Belgium m m m m m m 46 51 52 58 2 40,Canada 72 57 26 52 2 43 97 58 m m 3 46. Czech Republic 72 46 22 61 6 32 83 52 10 68 7 37,Denmark 54 50 43 63 2 40 84 59 14 47 2 45. Finland 77 52 16 63 7 45 93 54 0 32 7 51,France 72 56 24 53 5 47 72 55 24 56 4 48.
Germany 85 44 15 63 m m 85 48 15 60 m m,Greece 71 51 28 49 1 35 61 53 35 49 3 43. Hungary 98 54 m m 2 40 93 58 5 64 2 45,Iceland 82 60 18 59 0 36 95 66 4 49 1 59. Ireland m m m m m m 67 58 30 49 3 48,Italy 98 55 2 56 1 52 97 57 1 60 2 51. 10 1 Gender inequalities in higher education international trends International trends in gender inequalities in higher education can be determined by examining the changes in the composition of the student population in higher education the relative share of degrees awarded to women each year the levels of education attained by men and women and lastly the differences between the

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