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Canadian Women Are Storming The Ivory Towers

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True, Hilary Clinton didn't break through the Everest of glass ceilings.

True, 44 per cent of Canada's public companies don't have even one woman on their boards.

True, Canadian women earn just 73.5 cents for every dollar a man makes.

But women are breaking through in the very place where their numbers will not only make gender parity a reality in the next 10 years, but where the breeding grounds of gender dominance are all pointing in the same direction.

I mean, of course, Canada's universities.

Today, there are nearly three women for every two men on campus, and at some universities, like Mount Saint Vincent and NSCAD University, both in Halifax, three in every four students are women.

Today, three out of five medical school graduates are also women, as are 53 per cent of law school grads.

But the really surprising numbers are in what used to be almost entirely male preserves:

This year, for the first time in Canadian history, more than half of newly chartered accountants (52 per cent) are women.


At the University of Toronto, women now account for a record-setting 30.6 per cent of first-year students in engineering.


At UBC in Vancouver, 29 per cent of first-year engineering students are women and the university has set a goal for gender parity in engineering by 2020.


Women continue to dominate enrollment in traditional 'female' subjects like
Social sciences, where enrollment is 68 per cent, like English literature where it's 83 per cent , and nursing where it's 88.8 per cent across the country.

But they're also making major inroads into traditionally 'male' subjects like architecture, business, dentistry and veterinary science.

In the undergraduate cohort of students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph Ontario, 83 women and 18 men enrolled in 2015, and in the graduate program there are 14 women and three men.

The percentage of women architecture students at UBC is 62.7 per cent and at University of Toronto is 45 per cent. The same proportions hold for community and urban planning: 62 per cent women at U of T and 59.5 per cent at UBC.

In dentistry, it won't be long before half the country's dentists are women because gender parity at Canada's dentistry programs has been a fact for some years now.

But it's in that ultimate male stronghold of business programs where some surprising shifts are happening. We can see this first in the number of women worldwide who take the business school admission test. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, that number rose by 38 per cent in the decade between 2006 and 2015. This is more than triple the rise for male test-takers.

As of 2013, men still outpaced women by 64 per cent to 36 per cent among MBA degree holders, but that same year, as many women as men earned specialty degrees.

A major tipping point was reached this past year when the undergraduate commerce program at the Rotman School of Business at the U of T admitted a 52% female first-year class. While Rotman's graduate MBA graduation class is 32 per cent female, Laurentian's MBA in Thunder Bay is 60 per cent female. Women have made up more than 40 per cent of Harvard Business School students for some years now.

But do big numbers translate into real power?

When it comes to gender parity no, not yet. But I'm confident it will.

Last week, the "rising stars" of Canadian law were celebrated at a gala in Toronto. Of these 52 top lawyers under the age of 40, exactly half of them were women and half were men.

And speaking of gender parity, this year for the first time in the National Ballet School of Canada's 57-year history, there are more boy students than girls.

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