Women are enrolling and graduating at a higher rate than men at CSUN and other universities throughout California, according to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report, “Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women 2004,” found that CSUN women are earning 62 percent of degrees in all areas of concentration, one of the highest percentages in the nation.
Other schools in California in which women dominate the higher education scene include Cal State Fullerton, where women compose 63 percent of the student body. Women form 60 percent of students at Cal State Long Beach and 59 percent of San Diego State students.
Between 1970 and 2000, women gradually made their way from a minority presence in universities to making up the majority. According to the report, in 1970, 42 percent of all undergraduates were females. In 2000, that figure grew to 56 percent.
The numbers for female graduate students have also grown by leaps and bounds. In 1970, only 39 percent of all graduate students were female, compared to 58 percent in 2000, according to the report.
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen a lot of programs that usher girls into the university system,” said Jean-Marie Navetta, senior associate of communications for the American Association of University Women.
Navetta said encouragement by teachers and educators, as well as progress made by advocacy groups, have encouraged women to pursue their education beyond the high school level.
Another factor that helped women penetrate the male-dominated arena of higher education was Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Navetta said. Title IX prohibits sexual discrimination under any educational program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.
However, academic dominance at the university level does not always translate to dominance in the work force.
According to the report, women still suffer from a salary disparity, and receive less money than men for the same positions, even when both have the same degrees and experience levels.
According to statistics from the American Association of University Women, a typical college-educated woman working full-time earns $44,200 per year, compared to $61,800 for college-educated male workers — a difference of $17,600.
“There have been huge gains in learning, but it’s not translating to huge gains in earnings,” Navetta said.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1970, women with a bachelor’s degree made 71 percent of what their male peers earned. In 2000, that number was 78 percent, signaling that the wage gap between genders might be closing, albeit slowly.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2000-01 academic year, only 20 percent of women received a degree in engineering, whereas 84 percent received a degree in a health field.
Dianne Bartlow, assistant professor in women’s studies, said that typically, science and engineering are associated with masculinity, and that science tends to be taught by male educators, so it incorporates the notion of a male world and male point of view, which could be why more males are drawn to it.
“It doesn’t happen this way across the board,” Bartlow said. “It sometimes depends on who the person’s role model is.”
Bartlow said males predominantly hold the power in the professional world, and this is another reason why it may be more difficult for women to puncture through a structure that has been a historically male playing field.
“There has to be more inclusion of all women, of all ethnicities,” Bartlow said. “We need to get more directors, leaders and other professionals in power who reflect the diversity of society. When you have more equality, you’ll start to see more women excel. We’re cracking the glass ceiling, but it’s not completely broken,” Bartlow said. “We still have some work to do.”