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U of T data reveals higher percentage of women graduate students in master’s than doctoral programs

Data released on 2019–2020 graduate student demographics, funding support
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U of T’s annual Facts & Figures report includes data on a variety of topics. SAMANTHA YAO/THE VARSITY
U of T’s annual Facts & Figures report includes data on a variety of topics. SAMANTHA YAO/THE VARSITY

U of T has released its annual Facts & Figures report, which is published by the Office of Planning & Budget. This report includes a wide range of information on the university, including student enrolment statistics for undergraduate and graduate students from all three U of T campuses.

This year’s report reveals information about the gender balance within graduate faculties and fields of study in the 2019–2020 academic year, as well as data on sources and distribution of graduate student financial support for the 2018–2019 year.

The report reveals that in the 2018–2019 year, the percentage of women students enrolled in graduate programs was consistently higher for master’s programs than doctoral programs, and that the top-funded graduate field of study corresponded with the lowest women enrolment.

Graduate student enrolment by gender

Graduate student enrolment is higher in women than men, as 57.4 per cent of full-time graduate students identified as women as of November 1, 2019. This figure drops to only 47.9 per cent, however, when considering how many women are full-time international graduate students.

The gender balance shifts according to faculty. At UTSG, the three graduate faculties with the highest percentage of women students are the Faculty of Nursing with 87 per cent, the Faculty of Social Work with 82 per cent, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education with 80 per cent. The faculties of public health and information also have disproportionate gender enrolment statistics, each with 72 per cent women enrolment.

The three graduate faculties with the lowest percentage of women students enrolled are the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering with 29 per cent, the Toronto School of Theology with 32 per cent, and the Faculty of Management with 38 per cent.

At UTM and UTSC, every academic unit reported that over 50 per cent of graduate students enrolled were women.

Master’s and doctoral degrees earned by gender

Notably, the data reveals a gap between degrees earned by women in master’s programs and doctoral programs. Every field of study except engineering and physical sciences reported fewer degrees earned by women in doctoral programs compared to women in their respective master’s programs during the 2018 calendar year.

In 2018, the largest differences in the proportion of degrees earned by women between the master’s and doctoral levels were in the fields of humanities as well as mathematics and physical sciences. In humanities, the percentage of degrees earned by women dropped 19 percentage points between the master’s and doctoral levels, as women earned 67 per cent of all master’s degrees versus only 48 per cent of doctoral degrees. In mathematics and physical sciences departments, this figure dropped by 12 percentage points, from women earning 40 per cent of master’s degrees to only 28 per cent of doctoral degrees.

This trend extends to other fields of study as well. While 80 per cent of master’s degrees in education and physical education were earned by women, this number dropped to only 74 per cent of doctoral degrees. Seventy-four per cent of master’s degrees in health professions were earned by women, but only 63 per cent of doctoral degrees. Sixty-two per cent of fine and applied arts master’s degrees were earned by women compared to only 56 per cent of doctoral degrees.

Graduate student support

The report also offers data on financial support for graduate students from the 2018–2019 academic year, during which time graduate students at U of T received a total of $309.2 million. This funding came from a variety of sources, with 27 per cent from research stipends, 22.4 per cent from employment income, 17.7 per cent from U of T fellowships, 11.3 per cent from external awards, 9.5 per cent from bursaries, 7.1 per cent from merit awards, and 4.9 per cent from Ontario Graduate Scholarships and Ontario Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology.

This funding is distributed differently across the fields of study. The highest amount goes to physical sciences with 30.2 per cent, followed by life sciences with 25.2 per cent, social sciences with 22.3 per cent, and humanities with 22.2 per cent.

Physical sciences is one of two graduate fields of study that are dominated by men, according to the report. Only 29 per cent of graduate math and physical sciences students and 34 per cent of graduate engineering and applied sciences students are women. Physical sciences is also the field of study that receives the highest funding from the School of Graduate Studies.