Access to education is essential and now, more than ever before, women are taking advantage of today’s academic opportunities, entering the workforce, and using their voices to help eliminate gender bias and disparity. However, it was not too far back in history that women were unable to learn in a safe and equal environment. Post-secondary education has not always been accessible to women. It was not until 1972 that Title IX prohibited discrimination based on sex. Initially introduced to allow equal opportunity for women athletes, Title IX also addressed sexual harassment, assault, and domestic violence in college institutions.
Title IX paved the way for women to plan and strive for careers without fear. Before Title IX, most medical and law schools limited their admissions of women to 15 or fewer per school. Women held only 7% of law degrees and 9% of medical degrees. Today, women make up almost 50% of both degrees. Furthermore, women hold over 50% of undergraduate degrees and are entering the workforce now more than ever. Women are slowly gaining ground in disciplines such as science, technologies, engineering, and math which tend to be male-dominated.
Education provides women with more opportunities and control over their own lives – an educated woman is an independent woman. Better-educated women are far more competitive in the labor market, more likely to contribute to their communities, and possess the necessary skills to adapt to a changing environment.
Primary Fields Dominated by Women:
Derived from Department of Labor 2019 Study
- Medical as Nurses and Home Health Aides
- Administrative Assistant and Secretaries
- Customer Service Representative
- Retail Salespersons
- Supervisor of Retail Stores
Women are still underrepresented in occupations like Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Architecture, and leadership roles. In the United States, less than 10% of companies have female CEOs. Gender bias and stereotypes still exist today. Institutions play a part as women are not exposed to areas typically dominated by men. As women strive for excellence in education, they should be encouraged to explore careers in male-dominated fields.
Invest in Education and Policy
- Encourage College Education
Women should be encouraged to earn a degree in any field they desire. Collegiate learning is unique as it teaches students how to think, explore different spheres of influence, and gain skills to adapt to varying types of environments.
- Support Safe Environments in Schools
A safe learning environment allows exploration of ideas, exchange of ideas, and student involvement. We must ensure that policies that protect women from sexual discrimination and assault are enforced.
- Increase Education Funding
Funding is one of the most critical factors in providing quality and safe education. An increase in education funding allows for increased opportunities across the board by reducing the cost barrier for public higher education.
- Mentor Women
You cannot be what you cannot see. Women should band together and learn from each other’s experiences. Both mentor and mentee can develop and advance in skills essential for leadership roles through communication and relationships. If we want to move forward, we must support each other.