The gender gap between percentage of women aged 25 to 34 with a tertiary credential and the equivalent percentage of men, 2018

What is this metric and why is it important?

The skills required to develop and adopt new technologies, processes, and other innovations depend on both technical and general knowledge acquired in post-secondary education. We measure here the percentage of people in a country that have achieved certain education levels, as well as differences by gender.

How is Canada doing?

  • Canada has one of the most highly educated populations in the world. Nearly 59% of those aged 25 to 64 in Canada hold a post-secondary education credential. 
  • Canada’s PSE strength largely derives from world-leading college attainment (26%)–six percentage points higher than the next-ranked country, Japan. However Canada is a middling performer in terms of university attainment.
  • Although Canadian women and men are more educated than those in nearly all other countries, women stand out as having a higher PSE attainment rate by 12.3 percentage points, for 25-64 year olds and 17.5 percentage points for 25 to 34 year olds.
  • The gender gap in Canada is largely driven by higher university and college attainment rates, while men tend to have higher apprenticeship attainment rates.

Metric discussion

Post-secondary education refers to optional, structured programs of instruction that follow K–12 schooling and lead to a certificate, diploma, or degree that acknowledges the development of advanced skills and knowledge. This includes further education and training in colleges, polytechnics, CEGEPs, and universities, as well as apprenticeships and trades training. 

Research published by the OECD reveals important links between skills, education, productivity, and growth. They estimate that each additional year of education in member countries generates 3% to 6% higher economic output over the long term. Moreover, an analysis of the causes of economic growth showed that rising labour productivity—which is improved substantially by higher skills and education—accounted for at least half of GDP per capita growth in OECD countries from 1994 to 2004.


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