Australian women embrace university education

The per centage of working age women with a master’s degree or higher tripled between 2001 and 2016, rising to 7.4 per cent of the population, according to the new HILDA analysis from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic Research. In contrast, the comparable figure for males doubled, to 8.5 per cent.

Over the same period, the per centage of women aged 25 to 64 with a bachelor degree rose from 22 per cent to 35 per cent. A bigger proportion of women are now degree qualified compared to men, 22 per cent in 2001 and 31 per cent in ‘16.

Women are also larger consumers of higher education, with 49 per cent of those with a post school qualification holding a degree, compared to 41 per cent of men. The reverse applies in VET.

Overall, the per centage of men with a Certificate III, or above, increased from 59 per cent to71 per cent. The figures for women were 42 per cent to 68 per cent.

HILDA is the federally funded Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia longitudinal study of Australian households. This 13th annual report is by Roger Wilkins and Inga Lass.

The HILDA analysis does not report returns on investment in education, measured by employment and income, however the authors suggest “quite a strong relationship” exists between employment and educational attainment. They also find connections between qualifications and weekly earnings, except for women with a Year 12 top qualification earning more than those with diplomas.


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