Lab Canada

University enrolment sees growth in female students in technical fields

Ottawa, ON March 31, 2003 Statistics Canada says that university enrolment in fields related to technology, such as engineering and mathematics, has soared during the past three years, and the gains have been particularly prominent among women.

From 1997/98 to 2000/01, enrolment in mathematics and physical sciences rose 19%, the biggest jump among all fields of study. This was nearly twice the increase of 10% in engineering and applied sciences, the second fastest growing discipline.

In both fields of study, the number of women enrolled increased more than 20% during the three-year period. In fact, the proportion of women increased in every field of study except agricultural and biological sciences.

The number of women in engineering and applied sciences increased 20% during the same time frame, compared with only 7% for men.

Enrolment growth at the undergraduate level has been driven by two fields of study over the last three years. Undergraduate enrolment increased 20% in mathematics and physical sciences and 10% in engineering and applied sciences.

At the graduate level, enrolment also increased in these two fields of study. But graduate enrolment growth in social sciences, at 14%, and agricultural and biological sciences, at 12%, outpaced graduate enrolment growth in mathematics and physical sciences and in engineering and applied sciences. In fact, of the 8,500 new graduate students since 1997/98, 5,000 enrolled in social sciences.

Among women, enrolment increases at the graduate level exceed 13% in five different fields of study: engineering and applied sciences; mathematics and physical sciences; agricultural and biological sciences; social sciences; and health professions and occupations.

In contrast, among men, gains in enrolment were less than 13% in every field. Much the same pattern occurred in undergraduate enrolment, as percentage gains were greater for women than men in every field of study.