February 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 76  

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NEWS

Girl invasion strikes at universities

By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Gazette Staff

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 an education.

“When you think about it, we have had a complete reversal of statistics. Now the majority of students are female,” he said.

“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 achievement.”

“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 said.

“It is different at the graduate level. [It is] largely 50-50, where as graduate programs used to be dominated by men,” Mitchell said.

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.

 

 

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