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Designated scholarships overwhelmingly favour women

Men may make up the clear minority of university undergraduates in Canada, but efforts to attract postsecondary students with financial incentives still focus heavily on females.

Numbers compiled by, a free database listing 49,000 scholastic prizes offered in the country by colleges, universities, corporations and other private organizations, show 976 scholarships are designated exclusively for women - a number five times greater than the 192 prizes earmarked for men.

Chris Wilkins, who founded the site 15 years ago, said the scholarships for women total more than $1.1-million and cover everything from engineering programs to voice training. The prizes for men amount to $250,000 and most are sports-related.

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Even in fields where the lack of men is a concern, such as medicine for example, the database shows no scholarships designated for men, and nine for women. The database also shows 32 scholarships designated for women in education, teaching and administration, versus four for men in a field where their numbers are low.

It could be argued the lopsided awards ratio served to "level the playing field to account for historic trends," says McGill University education professor Jon Bradley. "These awards, in their time, may have been appropriate, but they certainly do not rest well on our evolving 21st century landscape."

Many of the scholarships for women, on the other hand, are designated in fields where they have traditionally been underrepresented such as the physical sciences, which offers 47 scholarships, and engineering, with 57. There are seven for women to be electricians, and in welding technology women have 10 scholarships and men have none.

One of the few places where men have more scholarships is in general forestry where men have three and women two. Scholarships for women in mining number 14, versus one for men. And in nursing, where men have been traditionally underrepresented, women have 12 and men have one.

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