Analytical Essay: Gender Gap in Higher Education

There is a problem that is developing around the world that not all people know about. In terms of higher education, more men than women are enrolling in post-secondary programs and maintaining their schooling long enough to obtain a degree. This gender gap in higher education could have societal and economic implications that have not yet been considered.

The entry rate to higher education for men is lower than for women in countries such as Canada, America, Austria, Iceland, and Norway, as well as the U.K. But even if 100% of men applying to post-secondary programs were accepted, more women would still be attending colleges and universities. Statistics state that women are 1/3 more likely to attend post-secondary institutions. By the year 2020, the gender gap is said to increase even further, with 59% of students in higher educational studies expected to be female.

Before the 1990’s, more men were enrolled in post-secondary programs – and now that trend is reversed. The enrolment growth rate for men is at 8%, while the growth rate for women is at 16%. So why is that? Many people blame cultural trends, such as programs aimed at reversing previous gender inequality by enticing female students. Science and mathematics departments are trying to attract females, and new fields, such as women’s studies, are being introduced.

Another reason why more women are enrolling in higher education could be based on wage inequality. Despite many gains in pay equality, American women are still (on average) being paid less than men. Since men can earn a good salary without a post-secondary degree, they do not feel a need to seek higher education. Women, on the other hand, understand that college and university programs mean higher wages and increased opportunity for them in the job market.

There are a few other theories about why fewer men are seeking higher education. Men are more likely than women to see the appeal of the military and enrol in the army or navy. Also, there are more women in the general population, which could explain why there are more women in university. Finally, men are more likely to enter into general programs, and may therefore be more likely to lose focus and fail to obtain a degree.

So what can be done about this unequal gender representation in higher education? Community outreach needs to be done, as well as better advertisement of post-secondary programs. Equal pay for women needs to be established in the workplace and the drop-out rate of males before college needs to be addressed. Also, stereotyping certain fields as purely feminine, such as teaching and nursing, needs to be stopped so that men have more vocational opportunities.