Women earn more degrees than men

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — On both the national and local levels, women are earning more degrees than men.
Census figures released earlier this year show roughly 20.1 million women have bachelor’s degrees, compared to nearly 18.7 million men. That trend has held steady since 1996 when women first passed men in bachelor’s degrees.
Throughout the past two decades, female graduates have exceeded males at Livingstone College with 1,160 women earning bachelor’s degrees compared to 1,062 men.
Catawba College followed the same trend during that time period with 2,280 women receiving bachelor’s degrees, compared to 1,880 men.
Nationally, women began to exceed men in college enrollment in the 1980s.
The trend holds true at Catawba, with slightly more women enrolling than men each year.
But men continue to outnumber women at Livingstone.
“The role of women has been changing over the last 30 to 40 years, therefore the opportunities for women have increased,” Catawba Provost Dr. Richard Stephens said. “College is simply a manifestation of that.”
• • •
Officials at Catawba and Livingstone said student engagement is a key component in degree completion.
Stephens said giving students a connection outside the classroom can provide the extra nudge they need.
“You need other motivations and opportunities for development of a student, whether it’s in the arts or athletics,” he said.
Carla Eastis, director of institutional research at Catawba, said in some cases women are more involved in extracurriculars than men.
“If you look at our Student Government Association representatives, they are disproportionately women,” she said.
State Alexander, special assistant to the president at Livingstone, said students who form bonds with peers of similar goals are also more likely to succeed.
“The sooner students engage and embrace and become a part of this new community, their loyalty and connectivity to the institution grows,” he said.
But Alexander said men oftentimes have a harder time making those connections than women. Male students continue to have tight bonds with high school peers who might not understand the value of a college degree.
“Sometimes those peer pressures don’t lend themselves well to a student psychologically or socially,” he said. “For some men in particular, that break is more difficult to make because they move in groups.”
• • •
Alexander said female students can be more successful than male students in college because they tend to come in more focused.
“Typically, their level of maturity evolves quicker than some men,” he said. “Men are typically unsettled; it takes a moment to get there.”
Eastis said when she looked at Catawba’s numbers, freshmen female students are more likely to have a major in mind.
“They are starting off college with a slightly different mindset than men,” she said.
Eastis said students who have some idea of what they want to study are typically more successful because they have a goal in mind.
She said high school GPAs and SAT scores seem to be less of an indicator for success than goals.
• • •
Alexander said another reason he’s seen more men than women drop out of school is because of financial responsibility.
“They might be the only one in the household where there may be an opportunity to earn money for the rest of the family, so they leave for family obligations,” he said. “It can be hard to separate themselves from particular circumstances.”
Alexander said some male students have trouble seeing beyond their present financial circumstances.
“We are trying to change students’ perspectives,” he said. “We know if they are able to stay the road, their families will be a lot better off in the long term.”
• • •
Stephens said the shift in societal expectations has also affected the number of women attending and completing college.
“As you look at the size of families, over decades they have tended to shrink,” he said. “Those families are more heavily investing in those children that they have. They want the best opportunities they can provide for them.”
Today, women also make up half of the work force, which means more women are turning to education for advancement opportunities.
“Women are seeking out their own road and exercising their rights,” Stephens said. “They really flourish in college.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Bachelor’s degrees earned

        Men        Women    
Catawba        95        99    
Livingstone        42        35        

Catawba        79        94
Livingstone        31        27

Catawba        80        88
Livingstone        37        39        

Catawba        86        74
Livingstone        32        30    

Catawba        80        99
Livingstone        40        39

Catawba        82        80    
Livingstone        47        58     

Catawba        76        108
Livingstone        66          61

Catawba        114        126
Livingstone           60          46

Catawba        103        132
Livingstone          64          73

Catawba        120        135
Livingstone          60          73

Catawba            Not available
Livingstone        56        58

Catawba            Not available
Livingstone        59        78

Catawba        109        136
Livingstone          60          66

Catawba        143        185
Livingstone          67          77

Catawba        138        168
Livingstone          55          63

Catawba        117        153
Livingstone          59          64

Catawba        110        161
Livingstone          46          76

Catawba        120        151
Livingstone           46          74

Catawba        108        141
Livingstone          80          65    

Catawba        120        150
Livingstone         55         58

Catawba        1,880        2,280
Livingstone        1,062        1,160