Friday, November 12, 2010

Utah’s higher-education gender gap grows

Nationally, women make up the majority of college students, currently 57 percent compared with 49 percent in Utah. According to Utah Valley University scholar Susan Madsen, women who put off completing college until after their children are grown rarely get around to earning a degree.
Madsen has been exploring women’s low college participation and what can be done to reverse the trend. At a conference Friday morning at UVU, she will present her findings from the Utah Women and Education Project, based on in-depth surveys of 245 women, age 18 to 32.
The Board of Regents hopes to increase the portion of Utah adults with degrees from 39 percent to at least 56 percent by 2020. Achieving that goal will require getting Utah women to participate at the same rates as men — or as women in other states.
While the freshman classes at the University of Utah and BYU are evenly split between the genders most years, men earn about 55 percent of the bachelor’s degrees — and the gap is widening. According to U. data, the state’s flagship university awarded 47.5 percent of its 2000 degrees to women. That share slipped to 45.2 percent this year.
The disparity is relatively recent. In the early 1990s, women made up the majority of enrollments at Utah’s public campuses, but in 1993, male participation began outpacing that of females. Women now account for 49 percent, Madsen said. Salt Lake Tribune

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