Closing the education gap between men and women

There are many factors that contribute to get women in to higher education and then keep them there as well.  As Mottarella, Fritzsche, Whitten, and Bedsole (2009) mention, there are still gender stereotypes and expectations that we place on men and women that will impact whether or not they stay in class or decide to fall into the stereotypical gender roles of what men and women are supposed to do.  As mentioned in the article, men are supposed to be the higher earners of the family while women are looked at to take care of the children and household (2009).

It seems to me, as is similar with many other social issues where a certain class is perceived as less than another, the problem is based in stereotypes and the best remedy to the problem is to fix the stereotype.  Increasing education to change the mode of thinking and expectations of gender roles, having parents instill the expectation in both sons and daughters that higher education is important, expected, and available to both, and also fixing the difference in pay scales between genders may also help.  By not doing the latter there is less incentive for a woman to want to go to college if they know the payoff is not the same and they will possibly be facing shame and ridicule from going against the grain of expectation.

As a former college teacher, I know that my proportion of female to male students is very high.  In two of my courses I have a 5:1 ration and another it may be closer to 3 or 4:1.  This trend suggests that we are on our way to closing the gap, but keeping the women in school until they graduate is just as important as getting them there.

Reference

Mottarella, K., Fritzsche, B., Whitten, S., Bedsole, D. (2009). Exploration of “good mother”

stereotypes in the college environment. Sex Roles, 60(3-4), p223-231, DOI:10.1007/s11199008-9519y

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