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Malta’s Gender Education Gap: Far More Women Enter Tertiary Education Than Men

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Women in Malta continue to outperform their male counterparts in the education system, with new figures showing that females make up 57% of new students entering tertiary education.

According to statistics by the NSO, 9,725 women entered university or other tertiary education establishments for the 2019/2020 scholastic year, compared to 7,328 men. 

The figures on the post-secondary level, which includes set-ups like sixth form, are more worrying – with the number of men enrolling dropping from 5,278 in 2017 to 4,681 by 2019. 

As a whole, around 55% of new entrants in post-secondary and tertiary education are women.

The latest figures confirm a long-lasting trend in the education system, which sees women outperform men at every level from O-levels up until Master’s degrees. According to the new numbers, the only area which has seen more male entrants is at the doctoral level. 

What the statistics also show is that in some fields that are clear gender gaps between the number of men and women applying.

For example, there were 2,033 women who enrolled to study education at the tertiary level, compared to just 295 men. When it comes to health and welfare, over 2,060 women apply, compared to around 921 men. 

On the other side, men apply in larger numbers to study subjects related to information and communication; and engineering, manufacturing and construction.

It should be made clear that the education gap is not unique to Malta and has been recorded across countless countries across the globe.

Analysts cite a myriad of reasons why females may be performing better in education.  Some have theories that it could be that parents and teachers encourage females more because they assume they need more help, while others think educational structures suit learning styles typically preferred by women.

One point that most authors seem to agree on is the curious question as to why females are unable to transplant their academic performance into the workforce.

The oft-quoted gender pay gap, which is an analysis of average wages and not a comparison between two exact professions, does present some food for thought.

While it isn’t often the case that women get paid less for the exact same job, the gender pay gap does show that females and males certainly find themselves occupying different roles in the workforce.

Figures show that men are more likely than women to hold jobs on both ends of the income spectrum, occupying the majority of roles in management positions.

According to figures for 2021, there are 16,200 men in management positions compared to 6,802 women – that’s a gap of more than 40%.

The question is: with women performing better in practically every level of education, why are they failing to occupy the most well-paid jobs in the country?

According to the government’s latest employment policy, women continue to face challenges in balancing family and work despite incentives by the government to bring more females into the workforce. 

It remains to be seen what the government plans to do to address both gaps from education to employment.

What do you think of the figures?

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Julian is the Editor at Lovin Malta with a particular interest in politics, the environment, social issues, and human interest stories.

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