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Campus Women Lead

Winter 2008

Volume 36
Number 3

Globalizing Women's Education



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NCES Projects Enrollment Increases for Women, People of Color

In December 2007, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released Projections of Education Statistics to 2016, a report detailing expected enrollments, degree attainment, and expenditure patterns in the coming decade. The report indicated that both college enrollment and degree attainment would grow for white women and men and women of color, with students of color seeing the greatest increases.

According to the report’s authors, the total enrollment in degree-granting institutions will increase 17 percent between 2005 and 2016, to 20.4 million students. The report projects stunning increases in enrollment by race or ethnicity: 45 percent for Hispanic students, 34 percent for American Indian or Alaska Native students, 32 percent for Asian or Pacific Islander students, 29 percent for black students, 15 percent for nonresident alien students (of unspecified race or ethnicity), and 8 percent for white students. Women’s enrollment is also predicted to increase 22 percent, as compared with 10 percent for men.

In terms of degrees conferred, the report projected a 9 percent increase in associate’s degrees (14 percent for women and 2 percent for men), a 26 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees (33 percent for women and 16 percent for men), a 35 percent increase in master’s degrees (43 percent for women and 24 percent for men), and a 32 percent increase in doctoral degrees (54 percent for women and 10 percent for men). The report did not include degree projections by race or ethnicity.

The data summarized above represent the report’s middle-range projections (high-and low-range projections are also available). To download the full report, visit nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008060.

New Report on Assessment of Women’s Studies Programs Released

The National Women’s Studies Association recently released a new report, Questions for a New Century: Women’s Studies and Integrative Learning (2007), by Amy K. Levin, director of Women’s Studies and professor of English at Northern Illinois University. The report revisits past analyses of Women’s Studies programs and suggests best practices for program assessments that reflect the discipline’s inclusive, collaborative values.

The report posits assessment as a tactic for establishing Women’s Studies as a worthwhile discipline. Levin begins by reviewing past reports on the discipline, taking Caryn McTighe Musil’s study The Courage to Question: Women’s Studies and Student Learning (published in 1992 by AAC&U) as a particularly notable precursor. Levin notes that many of the outcomes and goals established in this earlier report remain relevant today and might provide a framework for assessment of Women’s Studies programs.

Levin summarizes common learning outcomes (in terms of knowledge and competencies) and shared features of today’s Women’s Studies departments. She also reviews and comments on popular assessment and program review practices used by Women’s Studies departments.

Asking “Why haven’t we moved forward since The Courage to Question?” Levin acknowledges a “continuing feminist distrust of assessment” and proposes a number of remedies, including assessment practices that are cumulative, qualitative, and student-centered. Turning to AAC&U’s recent report College Learning for the New Global Century, she outlines necessary questions for the “next round” and argues for assessment as a way to improve educational outcomes.

To download the full report, visit www.nwsa.org/nwsaction/?q=node/31.

New Study: “Masculine” Women Most Likely Targets of Sexual Harassment in Colleges and in the Workplace

In an article recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology (2007), Jennifer L. Berdahl suggests that sexual harassment functions as a systemic form of discrimination deployed to enforce gender norms in the workplace. Sexual harassment is commonly described as stemming from sexual desire. Yet Berdahl posits that “gender harassment,” in which the perpetrator targets a victim whose behavior seems to deviate from gender norms, is far more common.

Berdahl compiles her evidence on the basis of three complimentary studies:

  • A study of undergraduate students indicated that women who self-identify as displaying masculine characteristics were most likely to experience harassment, regardless of feminine characteristics they might also display.
  • A second study of undergraduate students indicated that “masculine” and “androgynous” women were not more likely than “feminine” or “undifferentiated” women to perceive hypothetical sexual harassment as negative. This suggested that the first survey’s respondents were actually more likely to experience (not just more likely to perceive) harassment if they exhibited “masculine” personality traits.
  • A survey of employees at four major corporations, two in fields traditionally dominated by women and two in fields traditionally dominated by men, indicated that women who displayed masculine characteristics and worked in male-dominated organizations were most likely to experience harassment.

Berdahl notes that despite longstanding anecdotal evidence supporting these conclusions, her work constitutes “the first systemic evidence that women who violate feminine ideals are most likely to be sexually harassed in their social and working lives.”

The full article is available online at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/facBios/file/Berdahl%20JAP%202007.pdf.

Fall Issue of Ms. Magazine Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Title IX

The Fall 2007 collector’s edition issue of Ms. Magazine highlighted the significant strides made toward women’s equity in the United States since the magazine’s founding and Title IX’s passage thirty-five years ago. The issue makes a powerful statement about the difference women’s activism has made in many arenas, particularly in education.

Caryn McTighe Musil, director of the Program on the Status and Education of Women at AAC&U and executive editor of On Campus with Women, contributed an article on Title IX’s influence over higher education in classrooms and on campuses, where (contrary to popular perception) its impact has extended far beyond the athletic field. In “Scaling the Ivory Towers,” Musil notes the increase in women’s undergraduate enrollment since the passage of Title IX (from slightly over 40 percent to roughly 60 percent of students) and highlights women’s greater access to graduate and professional degrees, particularly in fields like dentistry, medicine, and law.

Despite these and other gains, Musil points out that women have a long way to go before reaching parity in leadership positions, both inside and out of academia. While Title IX has improved climates in academic institutions by clamping down on sexual harassment and encouraging “a period of serious self-study” that has bettered departmental conditions, its legacy is not safe. Recent legislative attacks on affirmative action have also challenged Title IX, and Musil implores her readers to remain “vigilant.”

Musil’s full article appears in the Fall issue of Ms. Magazine, which is partially available online at www.msmagazine.com/fall2007/index.asp. Kathryn Peltier Campbell, editor of On Campus with Women, contributed research to the article. In addition to Musil’s article, the issue includes Jennifer Hahn’s take on Title IX’s influence in K-12 education. Delthia Ricks writes about Carol Moseley Braun’s new venture in biodynamic food, and L.S. Kim analyzes women’s influence on the media.

Department of Education Releases New Report on “Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities”

In September 2007, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released a new report, Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities. The report focuses on data disaggregated by race and ethnicity and includes data on gender.

Among the findings on educational attainment and outcomes were the following:

  • In primary and secondary public education systems, male students of all races and ethnicities were more likely to be retained, suspended, or expelled than female students. The possible exception was female Asian or Pacific Islander students, who were more likely to repeat a grade than their male peers (the report suggested that data available on this indicator might not be reliable).
  • Women received more degrees than men across all races and ethnicities. This trend was most striking among black students. Black women’s degree attainment was twice that of their male peers at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level.
  • Black women with a bachelor’s degree had the highest median annual income ($45,000) of all women with bachelor’s degrees, followed by Asian and Pacific Islander women ($43,600), white women ($42,000), American Indian and Alaskan Native women ($40,000), and Hispanic and Latina women ($38,000). However, Asian and Pacific Islander women with graduate degrees earned more than women of other races and ethnicities at the same educational level.

To download the full report, visit nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007039

Catalyst Releases New Report on the “Double Bind” of Gender Stereotypes

By analyzing survey responses of U.S. and international business leaders, Catalyst, a nonprofit group working to improve women’s professional opportunities, recently confirmed that the “double bind” of gender stereotypes still affects women in the workplace. Noting that women hold over 50 percent of all managerial and professional positions, but only 1.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEO jobs, Catalyst attributed this discrepancy to the negative effects of prevailing stereotypes in the workplace. The report notes that stereotypes adversely affect women in three ways:

  • They create the perception that women are either “too soft” (if they conform to gender expectations) or “too tough” (if they adopt a male-coded leadership model).
  • They require women to meet “higher standards” for “lower rewards.”
  • They lead women to be perceived as “Competent but Disliked”--either effective in (male-coded) leadership skills but unskilled interpersonally, or effective interpersonally but unskilled in leadership.

After outlining the survey responses that led to these conclusions, the report details strategies that women and corporations might pursue to effect change. To download the full report, visit www.catalyst.org/files/full/2007%20Double%20Bind.pdf.

 



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