Conflicting Numbers: College Enrollment Figures and Post-Grad Salaries Hardly Match Up
50 years ago, women attending college wasn't nearly as commonplace as it is these days. And if they did, nine times out of ten it was only for them to get their "MRS" degree. For those of you unfamiliar with this degree plan, it's when a woman goes to college not to pursue any educational pursuits or ambitions, but to find a man actively pursuing his, marry him and then proceed to live out her days as a devoted wife and mother. Before I go any further, I want to stress that there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing this if it's really what your heart desires. Some people long to do nothing more and nothing less than raise a family—and that's nothing to scoff at. Parenting is the toughest gig in the world. You’re in complete control of another human’s existence, and you don’t get to take a vacation from it. If that’s not overwhelming then I don’t know what is. Opting to be a homemaker because your husband and others around you deem his professional endeavors more worthwhile than yours is where we start to have problems. The “MRS” system implied that things HAD to be a certain way. The woman was supposed to give up her hopes and dreams to find a man because God forbid she end up alone and possibly INDEPENDENT…OH MY! Luckily for me and future generations of free-thinking women everywhere the times have changed. At colleges across the globe women are studying everything from aerospace engineering to elementary education. Our interests and talents are far and wide and our involvement on university campuses reflects that. More women than ever before are enrolled in school and pursuing higher education, and not only that, they are said to be outnumbering their male counterparts. According to the U.S. Department of Education 12.1 million women were enrolled in a degree-granting institution compared to just 9.1 million men. Compare that to statistics from 1970, which showed male, female enrollment at 5 million and 3.5 million, respectively. Talk about changing tides. Data also revealed that women are gaining ground in traditionally male-dominated fields such as business and math-based disciplines. So, not only are they getting at home on campus, girls are branching out of their traditional comfort zones, likely in an attempt to remain competitive in this fierce economy. Another way women are striving to stay employable is by gaining not only bachelor’s but masters and doctorate degrees as well. In the last few years, statistics have shown that women have consistently earned the majority of masters and doctorate degrees. That’s an impressive accomplishment when you look at where they were just 30 years prior. However, amidst all of this progress, there is still one area where women have yet to surpass men, and that is in the realm of equal compensation. A year out of college, women are said to be earning 80 percent less than their male counterparts. Some say it’s partially because of the tendency for women to go for professions that historically pay less, but analysts says that’s not enough to account for the immense pay gap. News like this is nothing but discouraging. What does this teach the present and future generations of women? That their work and effort is not valued? That they still need a “man” to succeed and thrive? Whatever the cause, we can all agree it’s sending a conflicting message to our planet’s female population—both young and old. Women and men alike need to unite and stand for equality together, because until someone stands up to the broken system, what hope do we have of it changing? Maria Rainier is a freelance blogger and writer for several educational websites and regularly updates an online degrees blog. Maria believes that online degrees and online universities are the future of higher learning. She is interested in all things concerned with higher education and is particularly passionate about life after college. Please share your comments with her. Photo credit NazarethCollege via the Creative Commons License.