Women Continue to Lead the Gender Gap in Education

By Maria Martinez
Blog Content Contributor

Happy Women’s Day!

Girl Power has fought its way through a very rocky path. We have not had anything handed to us and we have fought for almost all of the rights that we can enjoy now. Women couldn’t vote, now we can. We couldn’t depend on ourselves, now we can. We couldn’t go to college but now we can; and we are doing so more than men.

According to the Federal Education Department, 55 percent of undergraduates enrolled at four-year colleges in the United States as of fall 2014, are women. However, this is not really new… women have outnumbered men on college campuses in the US by a widening margin since the late 1970s; and the gap will continue to grow in coming years.

We couldn’t say the same thing 70 years ago, since men accounted for more than 70 percent of college students in the late 1940s. But then, young women’s expectations of their future labor force participation changed radically. Rather than follow in their mothers’ footsteps, they aimed to have careers, not just jobs; and these careers were often outside of the traditionally female occupations for women (teachers, social workers).

However, we are still not payed the same as men. It’s true that more education helps increase women’s earnings, but it still doesn’t close the gender pay gap. In fact, as reported to The American Association of University Women (AAUW), the pay gap won’t close until 2152. Can you imagine that?

Women tend to earn higher grades and drop out less frequently than men, but still there are some majors that are more geared to men and not women. Yes of course, I am talking about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program.

Alexandra Lozano, a recent Biomedical Science graduate from Texas A&M Kingsville, said that there are fields like hers, where there are more men than women in classrooms and in work, but even if that is the case, women should not feel less and know that we can do the same as them. She also said that we should respect ourselves and remember that everything that we dream, we can achieve.

Things are changing for the STEM program. President Trump signed two bills into law on February 28, both representing a victory for women in science. The first, the “INSPIRE Women Act,” empowers NASA to run programs that encourage female students to pursue careers in STEM. The second, the “Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act,” authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to recruit more women and increase the number of women in science-related fields.

Women today get the majority of college degrees in America. It doesn’t matter what kind, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral, women beat men in all the categories. There are countless reasons of why this is happening:  benefits of a college education growing more for women than men, labor market barriers to women being lowered, men being more likely to enter the military or start working full-time right after high school. But still women are leading the way in higher education.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Supreme Court Justice, said, “I think about how much we owe to the women who went before us – legions of women, some known but many more unknown. I applaud the bravery and resilience of those who helped all of us – you and me – to be here today.” I feel the same way as her. I want to thank all of you women, who little by little are changing our society and the world by overcoming challenges and conquering our dreams every day.

Featured image by Belen Ramos.

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