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Why We Still Need Women’s Centers

Although women are now making up more than 50% of enrolled college students, women still lag behind men in earning doctoral and professional degrees. We hear anecdotally that female students typically get less attention, praise, criticism, and encouragement from teachers than male students get.

Only a few women are studying math and science (receiving, for example, only 18% of undergraduate engineering degrees and 12% of doctoral engineering degrees) due in large part to the hostile environment many face in these fields (The MARGARET Fund, 2005).

Some more startling facts about women in higher education:


  • Schools are eliminating affirmative action programs responsible for increasing access to higher education for women, particularly women of color.1


  • While women are more than 50% of the lecturers and instructors, and a little less than 50% of the assistant professors, they are only 36% of associate professors and only 21% of full professors. And only 2.4% of full professors are women of color.1
  • Women head only 19% of colleges and universities.1
  • On average, compared to men, women earn less, hold lower ranking position, and are less likely to have tenure.1
  • In computer and information sciences, there is a downward trend. The number of women receiving bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences reached a high of 37% in 1984, but dropped to 28% in 2000-01.1

Math and Science

  • Women receive 47% of bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and 40% of bachelor’s degrees in physical sciences; however, women are awarded only 25% of doctorate degrees in each of these areas.1
  • The highest median starting salaries for college graduates are in the fields of computer science & engineering, fields that have the lowest percentage of women.1
  • Women now make up the majority of college students, but they are more likely to be the majority in less prestigious colleges and in less prestigious academic majors.1

Career Education

  • High-skill, high-wage jobs and training programs are still dominated by men. Low-skill, low-wage jobs and training programs are still dominated by women.1
  • Even the highest paid workers in the traditionally female jobs mentioned above do not earn salaries similar to the salaries in the traditionally male jobs. In no case does the amount earned by the top 10% of workers in the predominantly female fields of cosmetology, child care, or medical assistant even begin to approach the median wages earned by those in the predominantly male occupations.1


  • Young women are over 85% of the students enrolled in high school cosmetology, child care, and health assistant courses. Child care workers earn a median salary of $7.43 per hour while cosmetologists earn a median salary of $8.49 per hour.1
  • Young men are over 90% of the students in high school courses for plumbing, electrical work, welding and carpentry. The media salary for plumbers is $18.19 per hour and electricians earn a median salary of $19.29 per hour.1
  • A typical college-educated woman working full-time earns $44,200 a year compared to $61,800 for college-educated male workers – a difference of $17,600!2
  • The wage gap between men and women has narrowed during the past three decades. Women who work full-time earned about 78 percent of the wages of their male counterparts in 2002, compared to 63 percent in 1979.2


  • Girls make up only about 42% of high school and college varsity athletes, even though they represent more than 50% of the student population.1
  • Each year male athletes receive $137 million more than female athletes in college athletic scholarships at NCAA member institutions.1
  • Women in Division I colleges are over 50% of the student body, but receive only 32% of athletic recruiting dollars and 36% of athletic operating budgets.1
  • In 2001-02, only 44% of coaches of women’s teams were women. In 1972, the number was over 90 percent.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in schools is still totally commonplace — for girls and boys. Here are some sobering statistics:

  • Eight in 10 students experience some form of harassment during their school years, and more than 25% of them experience it often.1
  • Girls are more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment, but boys today are more likely to be harassed than boys were in 1993.1
  • 60% of students experience physical sexual harassment at some point in their school years.1


Although a record number of women serve in the U.S. Congress, the numbers are staggeringly unequal.

  • No women has served as U.S. President
  • 110th Congress
    • 16 of 100 in the U.S. Senate are women (11D, 5R)3
    • 71 of 435 in the House of Representatives are women (50D, 21R)3
  • State Governors
    • 9 of 50 Governors (6D, 3R)4
    • 11 of 50 Lieutenant Governors (8D, 3R) 4
  • Secretaries of State
    • 12 of 50 (7D, 5R) 4
  • Attorney Generals
    • 4 of 50 (4D) 4

  1. (Retrieved on August 31, 2006 from:
  2. (Retrieved on March 27, 2007 from:
  3. (Retrieved on March 27, 2007 from:
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