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Women students dominating in many countries

Looking for the same opportunities

2013-03-05
The growing female advantage in tertiary education may be partially linked to differences between males and females in their non-cognitive abilities

Women students dominating in many countries

Looking for the same opportunities

equal opportunities on education - Single sex education
After decades of concern that girls were not granted the same opportunities as their male classmates, the attention in the developed world has recently shifted to the relatively poor performance of boys in school.

Studies of students in the United States find that girls often receive higher marks from their teachers and have now reached parity and sometimes exceed boys on standardised exams, including those required for entry into higher education. Research also indicates that girls are more likely to graduate from secondary school and to take more rigorous courses while in school than boys.


Gender differences

The growing female advantage in tertiary education may be partially linked to differences between males and females in their non-cognitive abilities. Studies have found that girls are advantaged in both non-academic areas such as parental, peer and teacher expectations and non-cognitive skills such as organisation, self-discipline, attentiveness, dependability and seeking help from others.

Other research indicates that the disparity between males and females in college enrolment and completion can be primarily attributed to women's higher high school grades, high-school graduation rates and likelihood of applying to college.

The precise sources of the gender gaps will likely vary by the unique context in each country. The consequences of the gender imbalance in higher education are also certain to vary across countries and are difficult to predict at the moment.

In the US, several higher education officials have expressed concern over the growing gender imbalance because they fear that it will reduce the ability of their institutions to attract the highest-performing male and female secondary school graduates.

Some officials have also reported that they employ strategies to increase the male share of applicants and that they weigh male applicants differently from female applicants in the admissions process. These reports have sparked debate in the media over the possibility that colleges are lowering their standards for boys and practising ‘affirmative action’.

In addition to the concern expressed by higher education officials, some research demonstrates that the gender composition of students' schools and classrooms can influence their achievement and attainment and that these effects may differ for males and females. This evidence of gendered peer effects may further influence gender differences in achievements and labour market opportunities.

The increasing dominance of females in higher education in the industrialised world is a trend that calls for continued monitoring and research. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that in these same nations, raw earnings disparities still persist.

Female advantages in educational attainment are only partially offsetting the advantages that males maintain in other areas. For example, men still choose college majors and gain employment in the occupations and industries with the highest wages.

In addition, in many countries in the developing world, girls continue to experience tremendous barriers to schooling, leading to a very limited presence of females in higher education and the high-wage labour market. 

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References:
OECD: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=2013022612105131#.UTN3ew-hsj8.twitter 
The growing female advantage in tertiary education may be partially linked to differences between males and females in their non-cognitive abilities

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