Open data in British Columbia

In a recent Post-Secondary Central Data Warehouse (CDW) newsletter, Patty Beatty-Guenter of the newly formed Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development wrote about open data initiatives in the BC provincial government.

One notable example is the Climate Change Data Catalogue; another is the site developed by BC’s research universities called BC Headset (a play on headcounts?). The latter has some interesting data, such as class sizes at UVic, UBC, UBC-Okanagan, UNBC and SFU for the last few years, which would be useful to students wanting to find out what they’re likely to experience in their years at university.

Initiatives for the CDW and other post-secondary data (besides research universities) are in the works. Keep an eye out for them!

Males and females still in silos in BC education system

In 2000, when I worked for the BC Teachers’ Federation, I was asked to prepare a report about males and females in the education system. At that time, after years of more or less haphazard programs meant to help girls overcome the real economic and social barriers faced by women, there was a lot of concern about boys performing poorly in school–some might even say it was a backlash.

My report, the snappily titled GI Joe meets Barbie, Software Engineer Meets Caregiver: Males and Females in BC’s Public Education System and Beyond (executive summary with link to full report here http://bit.ly/9CvUmA ) ,examined a wide variety of indicators of boys’ or girls’ relative advantage. For example, females generally had better high school completion rates, better marks, and more provincial scholarships, while boys had higher participation rates in physics, math and communications, and higher employment among those who did not complete secondary school. Males were much more likely to enrol in undergraduate engineering, applied sciences, mathematics and physical sciences, while females were more likely to enrol in undergraduate agricultural, biological, social and general sciences, education, and health professions. Male post-secondary program completers also had higher labour force participation (except 15-24 years of age), total income and earnings.

While I won’t have the time to reproduce that report any time soon, I was interested to note that the gender gradient of enrolment by school here at Camosun College still strongly supports the ideas that males and females are generally still in very separate silos, 10 years after GI Joe. In Trades and Technology, 92% of students are male, compared to 12% in Health and Human Services. The full report is available here: http://camosun.ca/about/educational-research/enrol/documents/student-age-gender.pdf .