Posted by: madisonmccormick0173 | January 30, 2019

Do Degrees Matter?

We are all in college pursuing different fields, jobs, and passions. I am a psychology major and leadership studies minor which both are more female dominated subjects. People attend college for an education in hopes of pursuing their passions but also to be able to make enough money to do the things they hope to do in life (whether that is lavish or just hopes to pay the bills).  I have always noticed that my classed are filled with generally more women than men, and I sometimes assume that it is just my field of choice that attracts women over men although, looking at statics on women pursuing degrees versus men across entire colleges does not add up to the earning gap between men and women. The article attached below states that women obtain 57% of undergraduate degrees and 59% of all master’s degrees. These numbers look great by themselves as if there is equality amongst intellectual growth and even more of a leg up for women seeking higher degrees. Although, when compared to other statistics these numbers are looked at in a different light.

As discussed in class many times, women are not filling these higher leadership positions in the same way men are. Women seem to not be able to climb the ladder as high. In the world of academia, women have actually earned the majority of doctorates for eight years in a row, yet, the number of women that are full professors is as low as 32% and as low as 30% for college presidents. More women are coming out of schooling more educated and qualified yet are being completely misrepresented in leadership positions. Women suffer from less earnings than men yet they are gaining more education and schooling than men. College campuses have had more women than men since 1988. I believe degrees should be taken seriously amongst the outside world of education systems and colleges are providing the education they are promising. University tuition is extremely expensive and people like us pay large sums of money so that we can be competent and successful beyond college years. The fact women are earning more degrees and not becoming as “successful” as men outside of college should be concerning.

A college degree used to be seen as something that gave people a huge leg up when seeking employment and leadership positions. I decided to go to college because it seemed like the “normal” thing to do after high school. I wonder if women are not gaining leadership due to how we value degrees now. We know now that women are not lagging behind due to being unqualified or uneducated. There must be another issue not allowing them to gain higher leadership positions. It is difficult to pinpoint why women have such a significantly lower amount of leadership positions within so many fields, it could be that women are not pursuing them, that men are not allowing them, or even that ironically more men have been better suited for these positions. These numbers can also be extremely difficult to interpret due to context. Some leadership positions do happen to need more “masculine” traits for example. Although the numbers are important to analyze. Overall should the number of degrees based on men and women be represented in the leadership outside of schooling? Is our education system the problem or the employment world outside of education? If more women are qualified and seeking even higher education then why is there this lag for women in higher leadership positions?

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2018/11/20/461273/womens-leadership-gap-2/
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Responses

  1. This is such an interesting perspective on the topic of women and leadership that we are studying! Like you, I am a psychology major and leadership minor, and have noticed the ratio of females to males in many of my classes. I am pursuing elementary education and have assumed that there will be little-to-no males in my classes as they get more and more education-specific. I understand that it is more common for females to be in the education program than the Luter School of Business; however, the statistics of this article are still so shocking to me. The sentence in the article about how women hold over half of management and professional-level jobs in America and are extremely underrepresented in leadership positions has left me questioning. Should there be more of a representation in leadership positions? I think that the answer truly depends on each individual. If women are wanting to pursue leadership roles, then yes, there should be more of an equal representation. On the other hand, if women are perfectly content with the job they have, then there should not be an issue that men have acquired more leadership roles that do not add up proportionally. It is extremely fascinating to consider, and I am so glad you included this article!

  2. Your articles prove that numbers really don’t lie; the data discussed proves that there is a huge gap between the number of degrees women earn and the number of women in leadership positions. I think an important aspect to consider with this topic is time; are we heading in the right direction? Have we slowed down in achieving more leadership positions? If we just give it more time, will we see the number of women in leadership positions increase or remain the same? In the political sphere, we see huge strides occurring, but the same cannot be said for other sectors. Maybe there are differences in the sector that require a different kind of action to help get women in more leadership positions, which reinforces the idea that leadership is dependent on the context. I also do wonder about the value of a degree in general. I think a degree is starting to be seen as a necessity for many jobs; having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t often set an individual apart when applying for many jobs. I’m not sure what impact that could have on women in leadership, but it’s an interesting perspective to consider when thinking about college degrees.

  3. I definitely agree with your point that there should be better representation in the workplace of the men and women who receive degrees (both undergrad and graduate). I do feel as though education and leadership are not always interconnected – we are all receiving minors in leadership, but from this, we are learning much more in depth about leadership than many other degree-seeking students. I think that people are not always more receptive to leadership positions due to their education, they are just simply more qualified for a number of these positions. The readings from class talk about how millennial women are less receptive to leadership positions due to the overwhelming presence of social media and negative factors associated with it, often causing women to be more insecure in their abilities to lead. Men often do not face these pressures, from society, within academia, or from their peers. I think that your point about women not pursuing leadership positions is one of the most likely reasons that women are not as well represented in leadership, namely due to negative stereotypes and beliefs that have impacted them from their childhood on.

  4. I thought this was a very interesting way to look at women’s education in comparison to the number of women in leadership positions after college. Even though we have talked about it and read stats on it before, I always am intrigued when I hear that women outnumber men in terms of earning college degrees and just in being on a college campus. That fact always seems to surprise me a little bit, make me a bit proud, but at the same time maybe disappointed/dishearted when I think about it in relation to the stats of women after college. I like how you mentioned that getting a college degree used to be a leg up for people seeking employment opportunities, but now it has become so normalized that you really can’t do much without a degree. I also think it’s important to remember that college isn’t just about getting a degree (though many people think that it it is, or at least treat it that way), but that it is also about learning important skills and lessons, building relationships, receiving an education for the sake of education itself, and so on. And it may be the case that more women are willing to experience college for these reasons without feeling the need to do something else with their degree after college. Not seeing as many women as men in leadership positions probably has to do with a lot of factors, as you mentioned. Whether it is that women take on a more involved role in having a family, or that they are not interested in seeking leadership positions, or that those positions truly do simply lend themselves more to men, I think there are just a lot of factors at play. I think it is also interesting to think about this topic in light of the Zeilinger reading, which discussed women (particularly millennial women) not wanting to have leadership positions because of insecurities bred by our media culture or because leadership is thought by women to be synonymous with perfection and women feel the need to be perfect in all areas. We have read before that women are less likely than men to self-promote, and I think it is interesting now to have Zeilinger’s perspective. So maybe we don’t see women in leadership positions as much because they simply are not willing to take that leap. Whatever the reason, I think it is important that women continue to be educated and put themselves in positions where they can rise to leadership. Then, it is our job as a society to make sure that they have the fair opportunity to take those positions, as well as the confidence to do so.


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