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Women working in higher education

By Asomi College of Sciences

Even if higher education has become more and more accessible to women over the past decades, many are still not having an equal role to their male counterparts. One of the leading causes is the socio-cultural background. Since ASOMI College of Sciences is engaged in gender equality, reading this article on gender equality in higher education is highly recommended. 

Gender inequality in education

One of the Sustainable Development Goals implemented by UNESCO is gender equality. The education plan recognizes equal access to education and opportunities for male as well as female individuals. UNESCO aims to support all learners equally and empower girls and women in three main sectors: improved policies, practices, and data. Regarding education and learning, gender disparities usually exist in learning achievement, continuation, and access.

These gaps typically act as a disadvantage to female individuals. Even if access to education of female subjects has improved over past years, there are still more girls and women remaining without education than boys and men. That usually happens for early marriage, poverty, geographic distance and isolation, pregnancy, or disability.

Violence (which is typically gender-based) and cultural traditions and patriarchal societies also make up valid reasons for the unequal access of the female population to education.  Moreover, the beforementioned facts were just some of the factors that determine the status and role of women in terms of representation of difficulties in receiving equal rights in education.

Gender inequality in higher education

When it comes to higher education, the situation is not rosy as expected. In fact, over the past decades, the enrolment rates of female subjects in tertiary education have risen. Nevertheless, female employment is not as developed as it should be. Indeed, women have not benefited from leadership or positions in the research or academic sphere.

Compared to male employment, the inequality of female roles is applied to a broader prospect of the labour market. Temporary and part-time contracts are widespread among the female rather than the male population. Moreover, at the lower education levels, women are over-represented, while the male community has the best when it comes to higher education. In addition, there are significantly few female researchers as well as rectors.

Labour market success or higher economic status are not the outcomes of rising female employment in higher education. The latter is given to the economic, political and social status of the ideals that connect the female population to specific spheres that are not perceived as exclusive to men. Often males and females are not equally divided among specific study fields and programme courses. Therefore, women often end up in less lucrative jobs or occupational sectors with little prestige.


The underrepresentation of women in STEM areas

Women are underrepresented in STEM areas. STEM is the abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Women’s choice of studies has still barriers, often connected to cultural perceptions. That is because, culturally speaking, STEM is perceived as a typically male discipline. Humanities, social sciences, education, arts and health are often seen as generally female fields of study. Women are more willing to work in these disciplines because with the coinciding gender stereotypes operating in the same labour market, women’s work opportunities increase.

Males continue to choose career paths that are higher paid and more prestigious. Therefore they often receive higher pay. That, as explained before, is mainly due to the choice of the career path. Unpaid housework and child-vacations are another reason for which, averagely speaking, women earn less than men. Even if the number of top universities led by women is increasing, it is usually men who dominate in the higher education field. Free access to primary education, scholarships and quotas for underrepresentation in higher education are but a few examples of policies that should be implemented to increase women’s participation in that sphere.

Higher education institutions should be more encouraged to promote women in high positions. Higher education institutions should become a point of reference in promoting women in higher positions and where women are encouraged to become leaders. Universities should help women make free of bias choices and inform all students on different educational paths, no matter the gender. Moreover, more specific studies should be made to determine all the socio-cultural and political factors that stop women from entering higher education, particularly STEM areas.


In other words, women are often under-represented in high paid and prestigious positions. Moreover, the latter goes for both: higher education institutions and the general labour market. Cultural and social borders and the study fields considered purely masculine or feminine are often the reason for the gap in gender inequality at work. Higher education institutions and employers could fix it by promoting women in higher positions and increasing the percentage in leading rolesASOMI College of Sciences does all it takes to employ women employees and promote them at the highest positions. 

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