We have arrived at a point in history where women are no longer lurking in the background of events, but are very much in the forefront of American businesses, politics, and psyches. Just this year we witnessed a woman run for the highest ranking position in the United States, we’ve seen women gather and march in order to make their voices heard and make a difference in legislation and opinions, and we are also seeing a shift in the concept of women in business, choosing career alongside motherhood, instead of having to choose between the two. There’s a true as day expansion of gender roles in society. All of these changes can be seen rooted in the flip in the US college statistics; for the first time in US history, there are more women than men enrolling in higher education.
Back in the 1940s, men made up 70% of college students in the United States. During that same decade, and the decades to follow leading up to the 70s, women married younger, attained jobs that were not career oriented that would cease when children would come into the picture. The change in women’s attendance in colleges began in the 70s, with the second wave of feminism, when women started thinking outside the conventional box, and in the direction of career paths. As such, during their high school years, girls would choose to focus more on the math and sciences in addition to their regular academic requirements.
With the introduction of contraception, women were also able to control when they wanted to start a family, and began delaying marriage and children until after their respective degrees, when the case before would be to marry about a year after high school and immediately start a family. The steady incline in women enrolling in undergraduate programs took a steep incline from that decade and continued to the point it is at today.
Currently, there are more women than men in colleges as throughout time, women have made slow and steady progress to balance the ever-tipping scale in the male-dominated world. Women want education, careers, marriage and children, choosing to have it all. The fight they have been having with society and the gender norms that it currently still holds onto, yet slowly breaking apart, is that of gender equality. At the very core of the gender flip in colleges and universities is the very desire for equality.
The question of why are there more women than men in colleges in 2017 is rather simple, women are no longer buying into the fact that there are certain things they cannot do, furthermore, they believe the wage gaps and gender bias is a thing of the past. For example, for the very first time, Dartmouth College announced that they have more women than men graduating their engineering course. Engineering used to be considered an entirely male profession, until the approach to engineering became one of problem-solving, which spoke to women.
Since we are speaking of professions and business, more and more companies are adopting the concept of paternal leave in addition to maternal, so that women do not have to fall behind in their careers, and men can enjoy being with their newborn children just as much as women; the designated gender roles are no longer set, they are fluid. When speaking of wage gaps, the issue is still very much there, but the gap is slowly showing signs of closing, with internal policies that prohibit wage differences based on gender bias.
So, once again, why are there more women than men in colleges in 2017? Because women know that if they do the work, they will be able to achieve what they want. We (mostly) no longer live in a society that tells women they cannot do something, quite the contrary, and as a result, women are taking the initiative and aiming as high as they can see for themselves, starting with a college education.