Female Quality and Quantity Stagnant at Universities

By Nelly Nguyen

There have been numerous studies done on gender equality across industries and countries; however, there aren’t many that focus on education, especially among universities.

There is one that stands out in this category – “The Glass Door Remains Closed: Another Look at Gender Inequality in Undergraduate Business Schools” by Laura Marini Davis and Victoria Geyfman. The authors examined female representation in undergraduate business schools by analyzing accredited U.S. business programs in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) from 2003 to 2011.

According to AACSB data, the number of male students enrolled increased approximately 15% from 2010 to 2013 while the number of female students fell slightly by 0.55%. The data also shows that female representation at accredited member institutions in AACSB in the United States declined 3.6% from 2003 to 2011. The authors also took a look at the degree attainment and noticed that even though the number of bachelor business degrees increased by 9% during 2003 to 2011, the number of degrees awarded to female students remained virtually the same, increasing only 0.21%. Thus, the  authors concluded that female representation in undergraduate business schools measured by either enrollment or degrees awarded has declined in the last decade –remarkable findings in light of a nationally reported reversal in the gender gap.

Some other interesting findings are:

  • Economic incentives heavily influence female students’ decision to enroll in a particular university or major
  • In the classroom setting, the study shows that women were more vulnerable to interruptions and were generally uncomfortable competing against men. Therefore, they tend to under participate.  On the other hand, the presence of female instructors had a positive effect on female students’ participation in classroom discussions. As a result, female-friendly institutional factors play a role in female representation at undergraduate business schools.

1 Davis, Laura Marini, and Victoria Geyfman. “The Glass Door Remains Closed: Another Look at Gender Inequality in Undergraduate Business Schools.” Journal of Education for Business 90, no. 2 (2014): 81-88. doi:10.1080/08832323.2014.980715.

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