Girl invasion strikes at universities
By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Women now hold a strong majority at Canadian universities,
as females constituting as much as 60 per cent of the student
population — and the gap is expected to widen.
Experts are calling this dramatic shift revolutionary in comparison
to the makeup of universities 30 years ago.
David Mitchell, the vice-rector of student relations at the
University of Ottawa, attributed the success of the feminist
movement, which laid the groundwork to encourage women to get
“When you think about it, we have had a complete reversal
of statistics. Now the majority of students are female,” he
“We know [this trend] has been happening for a while,
[and] females are increasing at a much more rapid rate,” said
Edward Ebanks, professor of sociology at Western.
Lori Gribbon, manager of undergraduate admissions and liaison
services in the Office of the Registrar, said in 2002 the number
of undergraduate females who applied to Western was 22,410
compared to 17,755 males. An increase from 18,894 females and
15,675 males in 2001. “Liaison officers haven’t
noticed an abundance of female students.”
The increase is also caused by a disproportionate number of
successful female high school graduates, Mitchell said. Once
at university, this translates to more academic honours for
women. “There is a significant gender difference in academic
“We are gender neutral in our recruitment; we do not
target a specific group, [but] if the trend continues we might
want to do something in the future,” Gribbon said.
Being in the majority at the undergraduate level does not
always translate through to graduate studies. “If you
look at sociology, women are in the majority all the way up;
when you go to the PhD level, men are in the majority,” Ebanks
“It is different at the graduate level. [It is] largely
50-50, where as graduate programs used to be dominated by men,” Mitchell
As this trend trickles down from the undergraduate to graduate
level, it could begin to show up in graduate studies, he added,
further speculating that perhaps in 25 years many top brass
positions could be predominately female.