Gender Equality in Higher Education is More Complicated Than You Think It Is
The Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning recently released a report from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) that details the gender inequality in higher education. Guess what? It still exists.
While there have been many improvement in the past few decades there are still glaring inequalities for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and frequent negative experiences in classes and labs. It was only a few decades ago that women usually were not allowed in male faculty rooms, had to walk across campus to go to the bathroom, and Rosalind Franklin’s data was stolen without her permission by two enterprising young men bent on being the first to discover the structure of DNA. Women are still routinely the victims of sexual harassment, unequal pay, unfair hiring practices, and glass ceilings.
One of the more disturbing findings in the report is that issues facing both female students and faculty today are worse for women of color, first-generation college-bound women, lesbians, and disabled women. While the general situation is improving, these groups are in serious danger of being left behind as changes are made.
The ASHE makes several recommendations to address the problems facing women in higher education, including one that says:
“(3) develop and implement change strategies that reflect diverse feminist perspectives. Analyzing the nature of inequity from multiple perspectives can help broaden the repertoire of strategies available to sustain current gains and ideally, increase the pace of change toward equity.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Already, EMILY’s List women are working to address these issues in Congress. Women like Tammy Baldwin and Amy Klobuchar, who introduced legislation making college more affordable and accessible, Maria Cantwell, who fought against cutting Pell Grants, Suzanne Bonamici, who sought to lower the age of mandatory school attendance, and Dina Titus, who sponsored a bill making fundraising for Pell Grants a high priority, are already working to change this disturbing trend by making education more available to all. The closer we come to equality in education, the closer we come to overall equality.
Given my own experiences as a woman in science I know that the work these women are doing is critical for the next generation of women is to move beyond these barriers.