Parity, the pink tsunami is upon us

My column last Wednesday (“Parity explained to my tribe”) earned me a lot of mail, including from readers. However, I had asked them to leave us men to ourselves. They refused. Therefore offering proof of their ambition: to leave no safe space (safe space) to the ex-tavern men that we are. (I am joking.)

Among the male tribesmen, some criticized me for downplaying the extent of the female takeover underway. Using an average, I indicated that 60% of university graduates are graduates, which foreshadows their takeover of the levers of power. It’s because you are calculating soft courses, I was told, these subjects of study which do not lead to anything serious and where, yes, there are many boys. But where the elite that counts are formed, the female advantage is already overwhelming.

In his brand new and frankly fascinating work The myth of parity (Bouquinbeq), psychologist, retired professor from UQAM and specialist in giftedness for 40 years Françoys Gagné stacks up the statistics. Among doctors under 29, 72% are women. Among lawyers of the same age, there are 68% women. Are these exceptions? Gagné calculated that, among the professionals of the 46 orders of the Interprofessional Council of Quebec, in 1997 there were 53% women. In 2022: it’s 64%. Since the “parity zone” is generally reached when both sexes occupy between 40 and 60% of a function, Gagné concludes that women have left the zone at the top and are now in the majority, dominant position. It’s mathematical.

In certain professions which were already heavily female, such as psychoeducators, we have reached a virtual monopoly, the percentage of women having increased in 25 years from 60 to 90% of the group. The progression is later but also clear in more male-dominated professions. Among architects, women increased from 20 to 43%. Among accountants, from 30 to 47%. Among notaries, from 42 to 69%. There is no case, in the 46 orders, where the rise of women is not significant.

Well, they make up the bulk of the troop. But among the generals? It is impossible to deny that male power, economic and political, dominates, even if the presence of women, yesterday anecdotal, has become habitual. In the National Assembly, after a long period of ups and downs, if the recently observed trend continues, equality will be achieved in the 2026 election, since they went from 27% in 2014 to 46% in 2022 , the strongest acceleration in history.

The generational effect

Elsewhere too, the signs of upward deployment of the female presence are convincing. In the Quebec public service, women accounted for 59% of the workforce in 2020 (10% more than in 1999). Let’s climb the ladder. Among technicians: 69% (+19%); among professionals: 56% (+22%); among executives: 49% (+28%); in senior management: 49% (+16%). Gagné also looked at federal statistics. For senior management alone, women increased from 28% in 2000 to 48% in 2018. All these increases are dazzling and underestimate the trend since the proportion of women is higher at the entry point — recent recruits — only at the exit point — retirees.

Progress is slower in the private sector. Among senior executives in Quebec, women still make up only 28% in 2021 (+3% in ten years). But at the lower level, among future bosses, in the management of administrative services, they are already in the majority: 54% (+2% in ten years), as in the management of financial services and business services (52% ).

For what ? The generational effect. Among boomers, entry into working life was already achieved on parity in the education acquired at the end of the Quiet Revolution. Roughly 38% of each gender had completed postsecondary training. For millennials? The gap has widened: 45% of men, 63% of women.

We are in the presence, not of a slow evolution of the sharing of roles in society, but of a real revolution of historic magnitude. The only originality of this column is that, generally, we approach this question by measuring the distance still to be covered in areas where women do not have parity. Here, like the works of Robert Lacroix and Françoys Gagné, we measure the progress made and being made. In my column, I used the term “tsunami” to create an image. Gagné uses it to describe two statistically observable phenomena: the educational tsunami and the professional tsunami.

The dunces and the geniuses

A seasoned bioethicist and neuroscientist writes to reassure me: “I think you are making three mistakes: 1. Men have more variability in IQ and aptitude in general. There would be more dunce men, but also more geniuses. So there will always be male astronauts and great scientists, etc. 2. Many of them are enthusiasts willing to invest all their leisure time in passions that end up benefiting them in the job market. Read: AI, IT in general… 3. Like it or not, most women have a more intimate connection with their children and their daily lives, and want it. »

I don’t mind. This means that, in the new world that is emerging before our eyes, strength in numbers will ensure that power will be mostly rosy, but that our propensity to be dunces and geniuses will produce exceptional men who will continue to impress us. view. A bit like, in the hated times of male hegemony, Joan of Arc, Catherine the Great and Marie Curie did.

I’m exaggerating. Even a tsunami ultimately has only a limited load. Gagné posits that the educational female advantage of millennials represents the new normal. It will be deployed in the professional world to ensure a stable distribution of 70% women/30% men at the start of the 2030s and then for the foreseeable future.

I wrote on Wednesday that, to resist the tsunami, it was necessary to impose parity from above, that is to say in places of power, as we did for women by decreeing their equality in the councils of public administration and choosing to apply this measure to the Council of Ministers. But since competence, at least measured by higher education, will be permanently unbalanced in favor of women, this would mean, in the name of parity, depriving oneself of the skills that are even more assertive than some of them.

In The under-education of men and the choice of profession of women, Lacroix and company cite studies which demonstrate that the impact of stress on boys is greater than on girls, causing a cognitive imbalance from birth. They plead for better support for mothers during pregnancy. Gagné pleads for a major collective project to close the gaps at school, which would only have an impact in society later, after a period of female professional domination.

Will this debate even take place? We still need to recognize that the imbalance already exists. I predict, like Gagné, that tsunami skeptics will be legion. Then it would take the will to carry out this recovery. This will come up against tsunami enthusiasts, who will affirm that this change, late and still incomplete, is only a fair return to history. The final triumph of meritocracy. A feminine word.

Jean-François Lisée led the PQ from 2016 to 2018. He has just published Through the mouth of my pencils published by Somme tout/Le Devoir.
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