The Gender Gap in Universities

As Professor Cynthia Enloe had mentioned in an interview I had with her a few months ago, very few women went to college when she did in the 1960’s. That may seem obvious to us as many schools in that time were schools only for men. As time passed, more and more women started going to school and some universities became co-ed, but women were still a staggering minority. But if you take a minute to look around you on campus you may notice quite a few more women than men. This is true of most private universities where the male to female ratio is 60 to 40. Women started to overtake men in obtaining bachelor’s degrees in the late 1990’s. Obviously the reasons for not completing undergraduate college may be different for everyone, but why the sudden change?

gender gap

Even though there are more women than men completing undergraduate universities these days, there are is still a gap in pay between men and women in the workplace. There are still more men than women in government,  and in the fields of finance, math and technology.  There are fewer women in government careers than men and the highest paying jobs in the US are still dominated by men in the United States.   This increase in female post-secondary education has not been reflected in the job market. In fact, some people believe that the inequality in the job market is one of the reasons that there are fewer male students in universities. As our generation faces building economic pressures, increasing cost of college, and a very competitive job market, many men are opting out of an undergraduate degree. In a recent study called “Gender, Debt, and Dropping Out of College”, the researchers stated that more men are dropping out because they don’t want to take on the financial debt of college. Men without an undergraduate degree don’t suffer a great difference in terms of entry-level wages, as opposed to women who do not complete their undergraduate education, are at a big disadvantage. Men who do receive their undergraduate diploma do benefit economically, in the long run, over men who don’t finish their degree.

Women in Universities tend to study subject matters that are not valued in the job market such as social sciences, arts, and the humanities. Whereas, typically masculine majors such as science, math, and technology, lead to much higher paying jobs. Jobs that we tend to think of as feminine such as nursing, teaching, and social work pay quite a bit less than typically masculine jobs. Those men who get degrees in typically masculine majors and proceed to get typically masculine and, therefore, higher paying jobs.

The wage gap still exists and typically feminine jobs are still not valued as highly financially. As more women are getting their undergraduate degrees, our society is moving toward equality, but there is still a lot of work to be done.



Disclaimer: I have not taken courses on gender analysis, so I cannot pretend to be an expert on this subject matter. If anyone with more gender analysis background is willing to shed more light on this matter, I would love to hear your input.

-Annalise Kukor


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