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Move over Engineers, the Girls are coming!

Many of us unconsciously remain prisoners of the past even as reality has changed. We suffer from thinking that some professions are for men and others for women. That is no longer true. In the Caribbean, there are increasingly more women enrolled in the University of West Indies than men — a pattern that has repeated in practically all the individual careers.

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Women enrollment rates have been increasing their margin over men. In 1975, there was 3 and a half men for every woman enrolled. In 1980, there was one man for every woman. In 2015, there was only half a man for every woman. This is repeated by individual careers (see chart above).  In 2015, almost 80% of enrollment in Humanities and Education were women. In Law, the number was 72%. In Medicine, the number was 71%. Even in Science and Technology the majority of enrollment was by women, 53%. Only in engineering men still dominate, where women represented 36% of enrollment. But if past trends continue, this last bastion of male dominance will also succumb to women. Assuming no discrimination in the labour market, in the near future probably it will be a woman who answers when you call an engineer.

Is this good? Yes, and No.  Yes, because half the population’s innate capacity was underused. Bad because the future means the other half of the population’s potential capability will be underused…the boy problem.

Image: “Sally Ride” by Bill Sargent is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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    Valerie Mercer-Blackman
    November 3, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for this great and timely article, which argues for the need for an exchange rate adjustment for Trinidad and Tobago as it deals with a Dutch Disease. However, we have to add the difficulty of diversifying an economy of 1.2 million people in terms of economic activity. In this sense, the comparison with Malaysia and Indonesia fails: both are highly populous countries with a very large agricultural base and at some point a large supply of low-skilled labor that could provide an initial comparative advantage in manufacturing. They also happen to be located in the middle of the fastest-growing region in the world in the last 20 years. While things are not perfect in T&T--particularly continued subsidies for fuel consumption--the diversification of their production base has some merits, as within the oil and gas sector there is a large and fairly talented oil and gas services sector as well as manufacturing of petrochemicals. So indeed, the conundrum of an over-valued exchange rate is a major problem for those countries suffering from Dutch Disease. PS: please add Kazakhstan to your graph, where I now am and am having trouble counting the number of zeros in the Tenge bils :)

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