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September 2018 - Choosing a course, a matter of gender

Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (BISA) - In the Spotlight - Distribution of the registrations in Brussels higher education by field of study and gender.

In 2015-2016, the Brussels-Capital Region accommodated more than 100,000 students in its institutes[1] for higher education. 57 % of these were women.


Distribution of the registrations in Brussels higher education by field of study and gender - 2015-2016


Source: ULB, UCL - campus Woluwe, USL-B, KUL - campus Brussels, VUB, the Flemish Community (dataloep hoger onderwijs), the French-speaking Community (ARES)
*Only non-university higher education (schools for higher art education).


The graph shows the distribution of Brussels male and female students among the four main fields of study in higher education. It is clear that the notion of ‘gender’ is by no means an academic one when it comes to students’ choice of higher education programme.


Health, human and social sciences are popular among female students

In the Brussels Region, more than half of the students choose a course in the field of human and social sciences. In the 2015-2016 academic year, some 60 % of women chose that field as against a little over 50 % of men.

The second most popular field in the Brussels Region is health sciences. With 30 % of women as against 20 % of men pursuing a course in the field of health sciences, it is clear that women are more inclined to opt for this particular field than their male counterparts.


Science and technology, a men’s business?

Next in the rankings is the field of science and technology, where men by far outnumber their female counterparts: 22 % male students as against 7 % female students. Science and technology is as popular among men as health sciences are, while, among women, it clearly is a far less popular choice. Finally, the field of arts is as popular among men as it is among women and accounts for some 5 % of the Brussels higher education courses pursued.

From a career and development-of-society point of view, the choice of course is not insignificant. Certain courses are directly linked to the crying need for human resources in the shortage occupations such as engineers or IT specialists in the field of science and technology. To find that only two male students in ten and less than one female student in ten opt for a course in this field is quite challenging.


 Further details?

Then check out BISA Focus no. 26 (FR), "Studying science and technology, a men’s business?". You can also find more statistics on Education on the BISA website.


[1] The institutes taken into account for this particular exercise are the university colleges, the institutes of higher art education and the universities provided the place where a given course is taught is located in the territory of Brussels Region.