Education and Gender Equality

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently announced an investigation into college and university admissions policies with respect to overly favoring men in order to re-shift the gender balance back to the status quo. The status quo, in this case, would be something more akin to 50-50. That’s because the trend over the last decade has seen women making strong strides in education, where some campuses have been seeing ratios of 2 to 1 and the national average being 60-40 for all college enrollment, in favor of females. A recent review of the nation’s most elite schools has shown admission rates for male students to be significantly higher than for female students, despite their qualifications otherwise, which has triggered federal interest to investigate.

This trend of higher female enrollment rates was already emerging in the developing world. According to a UNESCO study from 2005, women outnumber men at 4-year universities in nations like China, Brazil, India, and Egypt. For more on education and women worldwide, see The Global Status of Women in the World Savvy Monitor.

As gender equality increasingly becomes the targeted norm, the changing nature of households becomes the tipping point for marked changes in policy priorities for the public sector. A generation ago, gains for women in education and employment that would have then resulted in such paradigmatic shifts in higher education would not have been imaginable.

Tracking cross-comparison statistical trends can reveal some fascinating insights into what is happening at a macro level. For more ideas on trends you can track in the classroom, see the Classroom Companion section of each Monitor issue. There, you will find ideas and resources that can help you follow the numbers and find the story they tell.

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