Women make gains in male-dominated jobs

Women are making greater inroads in non-traditional occupations and fields of study, says a new study released Thursday by Statistics Canada on women in the workforce.

TORONTO — Women are making greater inroads in non-traditional occupations and fields of study, says a new study released Thursday by Statistics Canada on women in the workforce.

In the 10-year period from 1996 to 2006, women went from a minority to a majority in a number of fields, including human resources, as administrative services managers, machine operators in textiles, as managers in art, culture, recreation and sport, and in insurance and real estate sales.

Gains were also made in some occupations considered non-traditional for women. For instance, the category for police and firefighters was 15 per cent female in 2006, up from 10 per cent a decade earlier, the report said.

“Certainly one of the major drivers, I think, has been the rising educational attainment of women, and changes in their fields of study at the university level,” Kathryn McMullen, co-author of the study, said from Ottawa.

“Beyond that, too, I think there’s been strong efforts in some fields, and I am thinking specifically now of police officers and firefighters, to actively recruit women into those occupations.”

Architecture, sales and the physical sciences are other areas in which women are increasingly being represented.

Just 17 per cent of architects, urban planners and land surveyors were women in 1996, but that rose to 25 per cent a decade later.

The female share of employment as sales, marketing and advertising managers rose from 25 per cent to 34 per cent, and grew from 24 per cent to 31 per cent for physical science professionals.

The health-care field is another area where change is occurring.

“They (women) have always dominated in the health fields and that’s largely because of nursing, but if we look at the post-secondary level in recent graduates, for example in 2007 . . . 60 per cent of graduates from medicine — MDs, so largely family practitioners — were women compared to 43 per cent in 1992,” McMullen said. “Similarly we see that in dentistry, in 1992 women counted for just over a third, at 37 per cent, and now they’re well over half at 55 per cent.”

Overall, looking at the 25- to 64-year-old age group, women went from 48 per cent participation in the workforce in 1976 to 76 per cent last year.

In terms of education, the data show that more women in the 25-to-44 age group have a post-secondary education than men. But in the over-45 demographic, more men than women have post-secondary education.

“Women have increased their share of university graduates such that in 2007, they accounted for more than half of graduates in all fields of study, except for three: architecture and engineering; mathematics and computer sciences; and personal, protective and transportation services,” the study said.