Women in New Brunswick made up half the working population in the province in 2011, matching the national level for the first time, according to a new report.

The Status of Women Equality Profile 2012 – Women in New Brunswick report was released on Tuesday by the Women's Issues branch of the provincial government.

Women now outnumber men in New Brunswick universities, at 59 per cent of full-time students, and women made up 49 per cent of full-time regular students at the province's English and French community colleges, compared to 37 per cent in 2008-09.

"This profile is a useful tool when it comes to measuring how far we have come on our commitment to achieving equality between men and women in New Brunswick," said Marie-Claude Blais, the minister responsible for the status of women, in a news release.

The report updates statistics and tracks trends related to women in health care, education, labour force, income, positions of influence, family responsibilities and justice.

Some other key figures of the report are:

  • Eighty-four per cent of working women with dependent children had a full-time job, compared to 76 per cent in Canada.
  • Forty-five per cent of all women held a post-secondary degree or diploma.
  • Women holding management positions also increased substantially.
  • New Brunswick had the fourth-smallest wage gap among the provinces. The average hourly wage for women was 11.7 per cent less than that of men in 2011 – the smallest wage gap since 1997 when hourly wage gaps were first published. The wage gap is wider in Canada as a whole, at 13.7 per cent.

"While we should be encouraged by our progress, we must recognize that there is still work to be done to advance in other areas like violence against women and the participation of women in male-dominated sectors," Blais said.

The report notes New Brunswick's conviction rate for sexual assault was more than double the Canadian average at 56 per cent compared to 25 per cent for Canada in 2009-10.