Educating Rita.. and Jane, and Nancy, and..
Statistics Canada has recently released (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/030331/d030331b.htm) a report showing enrolment trends in University. The gist of it is that the number of women starting to take post-secondary education is increasing much faster than the number of men, that mathematics and physical sciences are the areas experiencing the highest growth rates, and that the growth of graduate studies enrolment is increasing faster than that of undergraduates.
Some of this doesn’t seem to be that unusual. After all, women have been historically under-represented in post-secondary education, right? So they’re just catching up as we become more gender equal it seems. At least, so it seems until you realize that in every year of the study, from 1997 to 2001, there have actually been more women enrolled in post-secondary education than men. It’s startling then to realize just how solid the glass ceiling really is – you would expect that with a larger proportion of women having degrees than men, and that proportion continuing to grow, we’d see more women in the upper management positions that university supposedly prepares us for.
More interesting however is when you look at all three of these trends to see what might be the common factors. For a hint, think about the last time you saw a scholarship or bursary that required the student be a man. It’s not an easy thing to find, however you can find several bursaries and scholarships where one of the requirements is to be a woman. Similarly, the governments are very pro-active about providing funding both for the physical sciences and math and for graduate studies scholarships and bursaries.
In short, the trends of enrolment almost exactly parallel where the majority of government funding and bursaries are to be found. Yet somehow the Alberta government thinks that inadequate funding increases to Alberta Universities will not hurt enrolment or the “Alberta Advantage” of a highly skilled workforce.
PC Party Re-Thinking
Who says wishes can’t come true? It seems that the Progressive Conservative party is starting to undergo a change in thinking. Not one, but two PC party members are taking the lead in attempting to get the Federal government to change the parental assistance requirement that student financing currently has in place.
Both Nova Scotia’s Education minister Angus MacIsaac (http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20030404013) and the progressive conservative minister for Fundy Royal, John Herron [see the CASA news release, John Herron’s Motion Is On The Mark, in this issue] are attempting to have the student financing parental requirements re-examined or eliminated entirely. Could this be the start of a trend where the Progressive Conservatives actually realize the value of a post-secondary education? There are even some noises about this out here in the West, where, according to the March 30th Edmonton Journal, at the Annual General Meeting for the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, two resolutions were passed – one calling on the government to address the issue of rising tuition, the other to make sure that tuition does not prevent students from any socio-economic backgrounds from taking university if so desired.
More importantly, does this mean that you or I might see some benefits in the form of reduced tuition or additional assistance programs made available? The jury is still out on this one, as in the case of the Maritime calls for change, the Federal government is not progressive conservative. In the case of Alberta, we still have to deal with Premier Klein, a man who seems to have difficulty in hearing opinions that don’t match his own.
Still, it’s a promising sign.
A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.