By Kylee Gorby, Contributing Writer
The gender gap in college enrollment is rapidly growing as women are currently dominating the academic landscape.
For years, men were in control of the academic landscape. The National Center for Education Statistics reveals that more men went to college and that twice as many men as women got bachelor’s degrees in 1960. However, two decades later, women had surpassed men in both categories by a fair amount. The most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education states that females, on average, comprise 56 percent of four-year college applicants.
According to a 2013 study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32 percent of women had received a bachelor’s degree compared to 24 percent of men by the time they were 27. By the same age, 70 percent of women had attended college for some time, compared to 61 percent of men.
Asbury University junior Savannah Taylor believes this rise is due to the growing opportunities for women. “Feminism is more prominent than ever before,” she said. “The world is telling us that we are capable, and we believe that we are. Women acknowledge that this is an opportunity that we have not always had, and we are taking advantage of it.”
Men are presented with the same opportunities and incentives to go to college and earn a degree as they have had in the past, but statistics show that women are rapidly outnumbering them.
Evidence found in the 2014 Pew Research Center analysis supports the growing gender gap. In 1994, 63 percent of recent female high school graduates and 61 percent of recent male high school graduates were enrolled in college in the fall following graduation. By 2012, the share of young women enrolled in college immediately after high school had increased to 71 percent, but it remained unchanged for young men at 61 percent.
University of Kentucky senior Daniel Buckles believes that this is due to the pressure to make rational decisions from an economic standpoint. “Many men feel the pressure to immediately join the workforce after high school in order to avoid piling up debt to earn a degree that may or may not provide them with a real edge in the job market,” he said.
The National 2013 Longitudinal Survey of Youth revealed that student loans, while helpful to both men and women, were likely to make men feel discouraged about their debt levels $2,000 sooner than women and prompt them to drop out of school. Researchers believe this occurs because women tend to have fewer job prospects if they don’t have a college degree, while men have access to more jobs that allow them to provide without a degree and without obtaining large debts.
The growing gender gap is an issue that is prominent in colleges across the nation and in our own backyard. For instance, according to their website, Asbury University has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,358, with a gender distribution of 41 percent male students and 59 percent female students as of the fall of 2014.
Asbury University junior Cassidy Flynn states that this growing gap in her own institution is concerning. “As an education major, I acknowledge the importance of a post secondary education,” she said. “It is vital that we close the gender gap for the success of future generations.”