STUDIOUS: Sarah Duffy is one the many Gympie women who have picked up tertiary study.
STUDIOUS: Sarah Duffy is one the many Gympie women who have picked up tertiary study. Rowan Schindler

Women lead gender gap in higher education

GYMPIE'S women are leading the education revolution, with more than twice as many of the region's women than men in higher education.

According to the latest census data, 879 females in the 4570 region studying at university, tertiary, and technical institutions compared to only 370 males.

The number is even more noticeable in students aged 25 or older, with 587 females studying in comparison to only 196 males.

According to Sarah Duffy, who is studying primary education, said a big part of the growth was availability.

"We didn't have the option to study when I was younger,” she said.

"Women have children young so travel for study isn't really an option.”

A mother of two, Ms Duffy said there had a been a cultural shift which was no doubt contributing to the growth.

"Women these days realise there is a need to be independent,” she said.

"It is somewhat of a social shift, I think.

"When I was younger and in school, there wasn't a lot of preparing us for life after school.

"I think that has changed a lot now.

"Back when I was in school there wasn't any real aspirations by kids.”

According to senior deputy vice chancellor of USC Professor Birgit Lohmann, women were eager to take up new opportunities on offer.

"There's absolutely a demand for women... who didn't have the chance to attend any tertiary education,” she said.

Another contributing factor was the courses on offer, which was nursing and education, primarily attracting women.

However, this also resulted in a gender split of about 70% women to only 30% men on campus, and Prof Lohmann said there was some concern over the lack of men entering tertiary education.

While she hoped to see more men enrol in nursing and education, she said they did hope to be able to expand the courses on offer to attract male students.

Noting it was an issue common in many regional areas, she said there were a number of barriers which stood in the way of balancing the numbers.

These included men as the primary income earners, and a lack of interest in from men in tertiary education.

"It is certainly a challenge,” she said.

The gap in tertiary education was not the only divide in education, though.

Women in Gympie are more likely have achieved a higher level of secondary education, with men more commonly reporting Year 8 and 9 equivalents as their highest education level.

However, there were more males than females in the region's primary and secondary schools.

Across the divide: Further Gympie facts from the census

  • Of residents without income, men are most commonly aged 15-19 while women were aged 45-64
  • Women more likely to volunteer, give unpaid assistance and undertake unpaid childcare
  • Men are more likely to have an unrelated individual living in the family household
  • Men are less likely to marry
  • Women in Gympie are more religious than men
  • Twice as many men than women earn $1000 or more per week
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