Canadian university faculty getting older, more female: StatCan

Canadian university faculty getting older, more female: StatCan

Canadian university professors are mostly getting older and more female than they were 50 years ago, a new report by Statistics Canada has found.

Data released by the federal agency on Monday shows that the median age for full-time college graduates rose to 51 in the 2021-22 academic year, compared with 38 in 1971-72, with most of that occurring in the first half of that period.

The proportion of women in science more than tripled during this period from 12.7 percent to 42.1 percent.

According to Statistics Canada, the proportion of women could increase further as more male professors approach retirement age. However, an aging faculty could slow promotion of younger academics, the report said.

The data is based on data from 111 public degree institutions with 47,799 full-time academic teachers in 2021-22.

‘As university faculty age, it will be interesting to examine the impact of retirements on the composition of the academic staff,’ states the report.

“With almost 5,500 full-time university professors aged 65 and over and a further 6,100 aged 60 to 64, almost one in four (24.2 percent) will possibly give up their job in the coming years.”

The StatCan report also finds that the proportion of academic staff under the age of 40 has declined sharply over that 50 year, from 57.2 percent in 1971-72 to 14.8 percent.

“Over time, job requirements for these positions have changed, and most positions now require a PhD,” the report reads. “Taking into account the time it takes to obtain this degree potentially increases the age of the population eligible for these positions.”

age classification

The median age for assistant professors has remained at 40 over the past decade, an increase of seven years compared to 1971-72.

For associate professors, the average age has also remained the same at 49 over the past decade, nine years older than 50 years ago.

The median age for full-time professors over the past five years is 58, an increase of 10 years from five decades ago.

Staff below the assistant professor level saw the largest increase in age, from 31 to 48 years.


According to the StatCan report, women teachers have seen their greatest growth as full-time academics in the past 20 years.

That comes as women have become “more economically active,” the report says, with women making up 47.8 percent of Canada’s labor force aged 25-54 in 2021, compared to 35.4 percent in 1976.

Women achieved gender parity below the rank of assistant professor in the early 1990s and now slightly outnumber them, StatCan found.

In the 2017/18 academic year, women achieved gender parity at the assistant professor level. In 2021-22, women made up 51 percent of assistant professors in Canada.

The proportion of women as associate professors reached 44.3 percent in 2021/22, five times more than 50 years ago.

Although nearly 10 times larger than in 1971-72, the largest gender gap is still among full professors, where 31.4 percent are women.

Women also hold more positions than deans at Canadian universities, rising from 3.9 percent in 1971-72 to 45.3 percent in 2021-22.

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