Women and education – some statistics

I have never really been interested in statistics; often thought that numbers are quite boring. But the other day I found my way to the website of Statistics Sweden and got stuck with their fact sheet ‘På tal om kvinnor och män – lathund om jämställdhet 2010’ which translates more or less to ‘Regarding women and men – a quick guide to gender issues 2010’ – and of course such a guide caught my interest. Here I just pick a few statistics, and for those who can read Swedish, I include a reference to the full story below.
Statistics Sweden tells us that 49% of all women in Sweden aged 45 to 65 years have a high school education as compared to 48% for men. So about half of the male and half of the female population between 45 and 65 years have a high school education. Interestingly, percentages drop in the age group between 25 and 44 years. In this group only 44% of all women, but 52% of all men have a high school education. Obviously more men, but fewer women complete today their high school education!
Statistics Sweden also tells us that in the younger age group (25-44 years) 50% of the women, but only 37% of the men have a post high school education, whereas fewer women and men in the age group 45-65 years continued their education after high school. Interestingly though, also women dominate this group (36% women and 30% men).
Since I am always a bit curious about women’s situation at university, I also checked out these statistics. During the fall term 2008/2009, more women (56%) than men (44%) started a university education, more women were already studying (61% women, 39% men) and more women took their final exam (65% women as opposed to 35% men). The majority of the students who obtained an undergraduate degree in natural sciences were women (62%) and not men (38%). Women also dominated in law and social sciences (62%), whereas men (70%) dominated in technical sciences. And how does the universities’ employment structure look like? During the year 2008, PhD student positions were equally distributed between men and women, but more men (55%) than women (45%) held a junior researcher/assistant professor position. Among the permanent positions as lecturers and professors, men also dominated with 59% and 81%, respectively. 59% of all lecturers employed at Swedish universities were men and 81% of all professors employed at Swedish universities were men. This really is not natural selection, or is it? I know that efforts are being made to change these relationships, and maybe it will really change in the near future.
By the way: in 2008/2009, the percentage of girls and boys who had enrolled in high school science programs was about equal, while social sciences had 60% girls and 40% boys and the technical programs 20% girls and 80% boys.

På tal om kvinnor och män – Lathund om jämställdhet 2010. Statistiska centralbyrån. http://www.scb.se/Pages/PressRelease____297277.aspx

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