The number of women attending Ohio State has increased significantly, and the same is true among universities across the country since 1982, according to a recent study conducted at OSU.
According to the study, the increase in numbers is partly due to the availability of programs and funds aimed at creating incentives for women to continue their college education.
Claudia Buchmann, associate professor of sociology at OSU, conducted the study, which showed women tend to do better than men in college and it’s not because they opt for “easy” majors.
“Women have always out-paced men in terms of performance in schools. They get better grades, they tend to enjoy school more,” said Anne McDaniel, postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia University. “Girls have fewer behavioral problems and they’re less likely to be diagnosed with learning disorders.”
The first-year retention rates for OSU female students in 2010 was at 93.7 percent. The number is 1.7 percent higher than the total percentage of first-year retention rates for male students in the same year. The male retention rates was reported to be at 92 percent.
“That trend is not new and it’s not surprising,” said Yolanda Zepeda, assistant provost at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “We in Diversity and Inclusion have responded to inquiries in requests that we’ve gotten from women in several different groups, who said they wanted some leadership and professional development opportunities.”
Zepeda said although women are doing well in those areas, there is a high demand for greater opportunities.
The issue of race often comes up when discussing the differences between male and female education, McDaniel said.
“There’s a large class component as well. Women’s advantage really comes from middle- and lower-income families,” McDaniel said. “Among high-class, high-income families, or where both parents went to college, boys and girls graduate about the same rates in college.”
Amanda Kauppila, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, said she initially felt like a “minority” for being the only female in most of her major classes.
“I feel fine now, but when I first started, I was actually intimidated a lot,” Kauppila said. “There were all these guys that have been programming since they were young, and they knew more than me. But that changed after a while.”
Kauppila, the president of Association of Computing Machinery Committee on Women, said there are several programs and initiatives on campus geared toward supporting female students.
Melissa Crum, program coordinator for Critical Difference for Women at OSU, said the purpose of CDW was to help non-traditional women afford and continue their higher education.
The program was created 25 years ago in an effort to put an end to the large number of female college dropouts.
“They found out that women were dropping out because of whether it was home challenges (or) employment challenges,” Crum said. “And what they found is that just a little bit of funding would make a critical difference to them continuing their education.”
Crum said single mothers, women who have interrupted their education for personal reasons, fall under the non-traditional category.
Crum also said the goal of the grants made available by the program would help alleviate some of the monetary struggles some women face.
“Having this funding that’s been here for over two decades, having people contribute and making sure that the hundreds of women are staying in school is definitely benefiting women,” Crum said. “We now have additional funds, the student emergency grant which assists with anything from a flat tire, to daycare expenses to emergency medical expenses.”
The Women’s Place on campus provides leadership opportunities and incentives for OSU’s female staff and employees.
Crum said there are a number of “small” efforts the university has made to support women on campus, and she believes that ultimately it depends on various university departments to act on creating incentives for women.
“There are women circles that I believe have started,” Crum said. “It feels like it might not be as widespread as it could be, but the momentum is picking up, so that’s good.”