Gender Inequality and Higher Education Annual Review of Sociology Jerry A. Jacobs Vol. 22: 153-185 (Volume publication date August 1996)

Jacobs, Jerry A. 1996. “Gender Inequality and Higher Education.” Annual Review of Sociology. Vol.22, pp.153-185.

  Gender inequality is more pronounced in some aspects of the educational systems than in others. This summary will summarize diverse literature on gender and higher education; it will focus on the access to higher education, college experiences, and post collegiate outcomes.

• Educational theory and research remain focused on social class disparities while classic studies of inequality in education mainly focus on disparities by social class among men.

• Gender inequality receives limited attention when discussed (Ex: Aronowitz & Giroux)

• Gender is mentioned to be a variation on the central theme of social class inequalities.

• Scholars who focus on gender issues treat all aspects of education as working to the disadvantage of women, in contrast education is a relatively advantaged sphere of social life for women and that gender inequality is more pronounced in some aspects of the educational system than others.

• Women succeed well in the area of access, less so in terms of the college experience, and are particularly disadvantaged with respect to the outcomes of schooling. Access: Women’s Access to College in the United States • In 1992, women represented 53.1% of enrolled college students.

• After high school a percentage of 65.4% women enrolled in college the following fall compared with 59.7% of men.

• In 1982 women surpassed men in the number of bachelor’s degrees earned, since that time women have garnered more bachelor’s degree than males ever since.

• Adult or continuing education represents a substantial fraction of tertiary schooling in the United States.

• 1940 Census revealed that women’s college enrollment rates exceeded 90% of men’s from the late 1890’s until the mid 1920’s.

• The median years of schooling completed by women exceeded those by men for most of this century, until the GI Bill after World War II enabled men to surpass women.

International Comparisons

• Women in the US surpassed their counterparts in other countries in access to schooling at both the secondary and tertiary levels for more than a century.

• The US enrolls more college students per capita than any other country and women’s share of college enrollments in the US exceeds that in most other countries.

• Women’s share of enrollment in Latin American colleges and universities is often quite high Brazil 53%, Argentina 47%, and Chile 42%. In China and India one third of college students are women. Explaining Access: Critical Approaches Critical scholars seek to explain how the educational system reproduces gender inequality in society despite its provoking resistance to such inequality on the part of women students.

• Culture of romance leads young women away from a focus on their studies and careers.

• Differential access to higher education is a principal support for racial and social class inequality.

• In the US women have attained access to higher education more or less on par with their male counterparts.

• Gender inequality in earnings persists despite rough equality in access to education, whereas class inequality is based on sharp differences in access to education.

• Women’s access to higher education didn’t emerge because of the dictates of captains of industry, but because women successfully demanded a place.

Explaining Access: Status Attainment

• Status attainment was another framework for explaining gender inequality.

• Attainment researchers classify gender as an ascriptive characteristic like race.

• Early attainment studies included gender as a predictor of years of schooling completed.

• The lack of sex differences is viewed as evidence for the triumph of achievement over ascription.

• Factors that may contribute to the distinctive position of women in higher education in the United States are the decentralized structure of higher education with 3000 public and private institutions, the existence of the social space for the independent political mobilization of women, which allow for specialized colleges for women, the ideology of individual opportunity which women successfully exploited to justify their pursuit of higher education.

• In Muslim societies the requirement that girls and boys attend separate schools may reduce the access for girls, they also have the same-sex teachers, which reduces job opportunities available to women.

• In 1950 women were drawn into college by the financial value of the “Mrs. Degree, and college attendance increased the chances of marrying a college-educated husband with high earnings potential.

• In the US 30% of women would have to change fields of study in order for women to be distributed in the same manner as men.

• Women’s fields pay less initially and exhibit slower earnings growth than do male fields so that earnings maximization cannot be the explanation of such choices.

In conclusion, gender often becomes a matter of variations on the main theme of socioeconomic or racial inequality. It doesn’t matter how much education a women has men still hold the upper status and women are consider to be minority. In society women have to depend on men regardless of her status education degree or knowledge.



This entry was posted in Annual Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.