Last year was the first time that a majority – 51% - of all higher education students in Chile were women, the Education Ministry reported last week.
“This is a global trend,” said Jaime Bellolio, an economist at the Jaime Guzmán Foundation. “In developed countries this has happened, and Chile is a little behind.”
Bellolio credited two factors for the phenomenon: that women working outside of the home are becoming more accepted by society, and that the gap of salaries between men and women is becoming smaller, although it still exists. This is an incentive for women to get a degree to find higher paying jobs, he said.
Andrés Bernasconi, academic vice rector of the Universidad Andrés Bello, said he believed that another key to understanding this trend was the incorporation of lower-income students into higher education. When access to financial aid was harder, families discriminated in favor of their sons, so there were more men in higher education.
“Today that discrimination has been reduced,” Bernasconi said, and so female students have a better chance of entering college.
The education of more women is expected to have both social and economic effects. Juan Pablo Swett, an economist at trabajando.com, estimated that female participation in the work force would rise from its current rate of 44% to closer to 70%.
“What remains to be figured out it how we can eliminate the discrimination against women that exists in the mentality of many employers,” he said.
By Kara Frantzich – Santiago Times