Discussion paper series // Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit 4916
The first Australian universities were established in the 1850s, well before the introduction of compulsory schooling. However it was not until the twentieth century that growing industrialisation, technological change and the development of the so-called 'knowledge industries' fed into an increased demand in Australia for better-educated workers. As the twentieth century progressed, technological change and industrial restructuring saw a shift from brawn to brain. From the middle of the twentieth century, the introduction of mass secondary school education and the expansion of the number of universities widened access. At the same time, subjects offered in higher education increased in scope, and explicit and implicit labour market discrimination began to be eroded. These factors, together with a series of supply-side changes, meant that women were more easily able to shift into investing in the skills in which labour demand was increasing. By 1987, Australian women were more likely than men to be enrolled at university. These aggregate figures disguise considerable heterogeneity across fields of study.