Move over Engineers, the Girls are coming..


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By Inder Jit Ruprah



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.

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.

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  • Adria Armbrister :

    While the intention of this post I am assuming is positive, both the title and the lack of discussion of women’s disadvantaged position in the labor market are troubling. First, despite the article’s indication that all careers are for all people, the title states otherwise: men are engineers and now “girls” are coming to take their place. Second, the use of the term “girls” to describe women is another relic of the past that should be erased. the article indicates that women are going to university to train as engineers as men do. Finally, it clearly bears repeating again and again. Women’s overrepresentation in higher education is a CLEAR compensation for labor market discrimination. Women in the Caribbean continue to have higher levels of unemployment than do men of all education levels AND women in the Caribbean are paid less than are men. Women’s returns to education in Trinidad and Tobago for example are on average $500 less per capita than men of their same education level. Sometimes good intentions do more harm than good. I see this post as one of those times.

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