This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 21, 2011

Increasing Numbers of Women Graduates

On occasion, we have discussed the increasing percentages of women graduates---and what these trends mean for society. According to a recently published report from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), in 32 of the 34 countries that are members, more girls than boys now complete their secondary education. Across the globe, women accounted for 58 percent of graduates within OECD member states in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available; that figure rose from 54 percent in 2000.

However, men continue to dominate the sciences: worldwide, about 60 percent of science graduates are male. Women make up almost three-quarters of the graduating students in health and welfare, and almost two-thirds of the graduates in humanities and the arts.

Some of the differences in graduation rates between countries are striking. In Estonia, which has the highest proportion of female graduates, more than two-thirds are women. Many are destined for careers in the classroom; an astonishing 92 percent of those studying education are female. By contrast, Japan has just over 40 percent of women graduates, and teaching remains relatively male by developed-world standards.

With respect to the percentages, Brazil has a higher percentage of women graduates than the United States (63 percent versus 57 percent). Just over 40 percent of Brazilians (versus 43 percent in the US) going into sciences are women; almost equal percentages choose arts and humanities (58 versus 59), and women represent75 and 80 percent of those pursuing careers in health and welfare.

The implications of these trends are significant and far-reaching. With more women graduating than men, more women will be prepared for higher-level jobs. Ultimately, more women will be moving into positions of leadership. Now, consider that women are the childbearing and often child-rearing members of couples.

Employers will have to work harder than ever to keep women on the job, so there will be more emphasis on lactation rooms and childcare onsite and back-up services to help young parents cope. We also expect to see more stay-at-home dads and gender-specific programs aimed at boys to encourage them to stay in school. ###

In the future, it will be more important than ever to keep childcare costs reasonable, yet the latest study reports that childcare costs are rising (see next week’s Herman Trend Alert for details).

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