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Girls at School Are Tough

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When she was in high school, she was called a “tough cookie,” but girls are still getting pushed around, she and other women say. Women are expected to excel academically and in sports and to have a certain “character” that is valuable to their families, she says.

But for most college students, she adds, it’s simply the right thing to do to make up for the absence of female teachers, teachers who have to be physically bigger and stronger than males and teachers who can only teach in a specific discipline because there are no other schools to do it, said Katie Wasserstrom, an associate professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies how women have progressed in the educational system. “In terms of our role in society, women have long been underrepresented, especially in certain occupations. And that’s why it took women so long to gain equal employment opportunities.”

Wasserstrom is one of many scientists who are examining how different educational groups have fared in getting a fair shake in recent decades. She points to women in STEM fields having an even stronger showing than male counterparts; she cites the study of female students who entered Harvard Business School and the Harvard Graduate School of Economics, who were twice as likely as men to earn a doctorate and five times as likely to have a job in finance.

While some studies have focused on gender differences across all education levels, others point at the impact of education, such as women with less schooling, women whose parents attended schools less likely to have the same level of education and women whose parents are more educated.

Some of those differences can be seen even in the very fields where women are making a difference in education — in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. A 2012 study by the National Science Foundation found women are four times as likely as men to earn a bachelor’s degree from four of America’s top science universities.

The gap between male and female performance on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has gotten worse over the past 20 years, Wasserstrom and other researchers said. In math, women are now twice as likely as men to finish college, she found in her 2014 research. But men still make up a majority of those who earn doctorates but also earn less than a college degree. In the STEM fields, women are about three times as likely as men to earn a bachelor’s degree, said Wasserstrom. That gender gap is even larger in math but has shrunk since the 1990s.

But it’s not all about gender. Wasserstrom’s 2014 report found that in science, women have an edge at math and science, with a 1.7-to-1 advantage in math. In other areas of the educational system, such as math and science, women have a slight edge. In math, women are nearly twice as likely as men to earn a master’s degree. In science and technology, women are about twice as likely as men to earn a doctorate. In the humanities and social sciences, men outnumber women, Wasserstrom wrote.

The math, science and social sciences fields also are home to a large and diverse group of high achieving women. There are a number of reasons for this, including higher salaries, more women in high school and college than men in the United States, and women taking less time out of college.

But for decades, women have struggled to advance to positions similar to those held by men. In the 1990s, the women who graduated with the greatest math or science, math or science-related jobs at universities with more male students were all women. But today, there aren’t that many qualified women, and a large percentage of men earn such positions, according to an analysis published this month by the Pew Research Center. And it looks as though women are catching up, says Wasserstrom, who is writing a book on career paths in science and technology.

The research in Wasserstrom’s research found that among high school students and high school dropouts, gender difference in college enrollment was most significant. Women make up nearly 70 percent of college students and nearly 30 percent of college dropouts in math and science, and about 80 percent in the humanities and social sciences. But women still lag behind men, at least overall.

“One of the reasons women haven’t really gotten the kind of college that they want is that the field that’s needed for the job is not there yet,” Wasserstrom said. But there is hope, she added. “One thing we know is that we can make progress in these fields…. In the fields where there might be gaps, the girls could be the ones who will get them.”

This story was updated Aug. 25 to include the names of the institutions examined in the Pew Research Center analysis.

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I’ve Never Been To The School I Want to Be in My Life

“I’ve Never Been To The School I Want To Be In My Life”

I have a very special daughter who will one day make a difference at a young age. Her name is Bella; she will be 18 in December this year. It’s only been a year since she was born, so she’s still learning about life in school. In high school, she was in a group that included all of her brothers, and she was very quiet. It wasn’t until she came to visit me when I was in the middle of a family tragedy that I realized we had a daughter. Bella was in school that year, but her school had decided not to invite her back.

“What does that mean to you? Is it that this is what I want to spend my life doing?” I was trying to think of something to say in response to Bella, and I couldn’t figure out a way to do it in a way that was positive. As soon as the decision was made and Bella was not invited back as a student, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. There was no way I could think about her in that way, and that sense of accomplishment didn’t leave me. The school that Bella attends now is in a very privileged position to have a unique, special girl in this situation.

The school was able to do a wonderful job with a decision that allowed Bella to pursue more interesting studies. That decision has given them a huge boost in understanding what they are doing and how to do everything within their power to give the best possible experience to students from every socioeconomic background. And they don’t have to feel like they’re just doing their best to do it. They have all kinds of resources at their disposal, and Bella could not be happier. Bella also has a lot to be proud of, because she has become the most successful girl in her class in history. This is a school that believes in the importance of education not just for a young person’s academic performance but for her future career.

Bella’s journey as a student in high school was inspiring, but also tragic. She was a quiet girl, with a quiet voice. But she never let that deter her. She was a very talented musician who could sing beautifully. When I think of her, I think of my own struggles, too. When I was in school, we were taught we needed to be good at reading and writing, and Bella was not the person I thought she would be. I knew that when she left home, I would be missing a wonderful opportunity to be the best person I could be.

In high school, Bella made a big impact on the school and in the community, and she will always be a part of this school. She has inspired so many people, and she has become a very good student. Her success and success as a young woman are both amazing and inspiring. She has a lot of things to learn, but she is doing a lot of the right things at the right time, and I hope she has the opportunity to do so.

The school has made the right choice and has embraced Bella like everyone else did with my daughter. It has also recognized Bella’s incredible story, and they have helped her realize that it’s not the life she wants to lead, but that’s okay — this life has been given to her, and it’s her time to really embrace what’s possible and find her passion in everything that happens. They did so well that she is able to spend the rest of her high school career in America, at home with her family and working towards a goal she hopes of achieving before she reaches age 26: becoming a physician. Bella will be able to learn to perform on an international stage, which is something she truly craves, and she is also determined to pursue her passion for performing in New Zealand for years to come.

I want to thank the school, the staff, her parents, school administrators, her parents, the principal and everyone else involved for being so kind and accommodating during this difficult time. Bella, thank you so much for all that you have taught me in your short existence as this girl who never had a voice.

I’m proud to be the mom of a future First Lady who will bring new meaning to this beautiful word: “caring”