Gender equality: Education and Science
Life-long learning increases competitiveness in the labour market. Irrespective of both genders having equal access to the education, there still are some differences between the educational attainment thereof.
Educational Attainment of the Population
In 2020, 39.1 % of females and 25.0 % of males in Latvia had higher education. The number of vocational and professional school graduates, in turn, is dominated by males – 31.6 % and 26.0 %, respectively. Compared to the European Union average, the proportion of men with higher education in Latvia is 2.3 percentage points lower, while that of females is 9.3 percentage points higher than in the EU.
Males more often tend to discontinue studies after basic education.
Graduates of Higher Education Institutions, Colleges, and Vocational Schools and Employment
In 2020, females more often graduated from health and welfare (87.7 % of all graduates) as well as humanities and arts programmes (74.2 %). Majority of males, in turn, graduated from science, mathematics and computing (95.2 %) and engineering, manufacturing and construction (88.5 %) programmes.
In 2019, 59.4 % of males and 59.3 % of females aged 18–24 were employed after they acquired vocational education, whereas 3.6 % of males and 3.7 % of females were unemployed. Among inactive males 37.5 % continued studies and among inactive females – 37.1 %.
Craft and related trades workers was the most popular occupation among male vocational school graduates (25 %), while among females those were service and sales workers (49.9 %). Elementary occupations (21.5 % of males) and professionals (13.4 % of females) were the second most popular occupations.
In respect to the economic activities, males more often work in mining and quarrying as well as wholesale and retail trade (19.1 % and 17.8 % of males aged 18–24 who have acquired vocational education, respectively). Females, in turn, the most often choose to be employed in wholesale and retail trade, as well as in accommodation and food services(27.3 % and 22.8 %, respectively).
Higher education institutions and colleges
Regardless the fact that females constitute the largest share of higher education students, science and technical fields more often are chosen by males. In 2020, totally 14 525 students acquired degree or qualification in higher education institutions of Latvia, of which females accounted for 65.4 %. However, females constitute only one third (30.0 %) of the science and technical field (life science, mathematics, IT, engineering, manufacturing and construction) graduates.
At begining of 2020, the number of doctorate holders was similar among both genders – 3 937 females and 3 781 males.
Share of female teachers in general and professional educational institutions (except preschools) in Latvia is the highest in the EU – 86.8 % of teachers are females. In all general and professional educational institutions in the EU member states the number of female teachers is larger than the number of male teachers – the average share of female teachers in the EU is 72.5 %. The largest share of female teachers in Latvia is in age group 40–49 years, i.e., 9 out of 10 teachers are females.
Out of 11.4 thousand preschool teachers in Latvia 2019/2020 school year, there are only 102 male teachers, and more than half of them are sports teachers.
During the past 10 years, the high share of female teachers has not changed – in 2009 88.4 % of teachers were females, but in 2019 – 87.9 %.
Early School Leavers
Education was one of the Europe 2020 strategy headline targets. It defines that the share of early school leavers (aged 18–24) should be reduced. Latvia had set its national target to reducing the number of students who discontinue studies after basic education to 10 % until 2020, which meets the EU target. In 2020, Latvian indicator constituted 7.2 %, which means that the target was achieved. However, there are some gender differences in the shares of early school leavers, as males discontinue studies after basic education almost two times often than females – 9.5 % of males and 4.7 % of females aged 18–24 has basic education or lower and were not participating in education anymore.
Adult Participation in Learning
In 2020, 6.6 % of the population of Latvia aged 25–64 had participated in education or training during the past four weeks. The share of such persons among females was 3.8 percentage points higher – 8.4 % of females and 4.6 % of males.
In terms of female share among researchers (scientists, professionals, managers and administrators) having doctorate, Latvia takes the top rankings among the EU countries. In 2020, females accounted for half (50.1 %) of Latvian researchers.
Analysis of the researcher number by sector shows that in 2020 the largest share of males was employed in business enterprise sector (63.2 %), while that of females in government and higher education sectors (55.0 % and 52.5 %, respectively).
In 2020, medical and health sciences was the field of science with the largest share of female researchers (67.5 %), followed by humanities and art (64.2 %), social sciences (62.1 %), and agricultural and veterinary science (61.2 %). The largest share of male researchers was working in the field of engineering and technology (65.3 %) as well as natural sciences (53.8 %).
Gender Equality Index – Education
Latvian Gender Equality Index1 calculated by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in the domain Knowledge, which measures gender inequalities in educational attainment, participation in education and training over the life course and gender segregation, is assessed with 50.9 points, which is notably less than the EU average (62.7). The low rating is related to both higher share of females among higher education institution graduates and gender gap in various fields of education (females more commonly choose humanities, while males science and technical fields). According to EIGE assessment, Latvia has consistently taken the last place among the EU countries in the domain Knowledge since 2015, thus, it is possible to conclude that Latvia should continue serious development in the field of education.
1The index ratings vary between 1 and 100, where 1 stands for absolute gender inequality and 100 for full gender equality.
Gender Equality Index – Knowledge - Eige website