Job outlook dimmer for female grads

by Jamie VanGeest

More women than men are seen sitting in the University’s classrooms, but the job outlook is still better for men when they graduate.

For the past 10 years in Minnesota, female statewide enrollment has outnumbered male enrollment, but nationwide statistics still show men are winning the wage and workforce game.

Enrollment statistics for spring 2006 show the University has 12,719 male and 14,246 female undergraduates, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting at the University.

Statewide in 2004, 57 percent of college students were women and 43 percent were men, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

The trend of a higher percentage of women attending college isn’t uncommon in Minnesota. In 1996, 55 percent of college students were women and 45 percent were men, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Amy Kaminsky, a professor in the University’s department of women’s studies, said it seems that in the past 10 or 15 years there has been a concerted effort on the part of elementary schools and high schools to do more to get female students ready for college.

Even though more schools are encouraging women to attend college with successful results, the workforce isn’t as quick in closing the gap.

“The world of work has not caught up with the worlds of education,” Kaminsky said.

In 2004 women represented 46 percent of the labor force in the United States and the number is projected to be the same until 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.

The median salary per week among female college graduates is $809 and the median salary per week for a man with a college degree is $1,089, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.

Also in 2003, women made 75.5 cents for every dollar men made at their jobs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Marsha Frey, associate program director for the Office for University Women, said society and the workforce still are making up for past inequalities.

“When you look at almost all of the areas in terms of leadership in business and public policy, women still lag far behind,” Frey said.

The lag also spreads to higher-education leadership positions, she said.

Norma Juarbe Franceschini, worklife effectiveness coordinator in the office of Human Resources, said one reason college-educated women aren’t making as much as college-educated men is because the workplace isn’t a family-friendly environment.

“The work culture does not allow you to maintain your identity as a mother; it does not see women,” she said.

For example, if a woman has to leave work for something like a parent-teacher conference, she isn’t viewed as a professional, Juarbe Franceschini said.

There are ways to create a family-friendly environment in the workplace, she said, such as lactation stations, on-the-job child care and flexible schedules.

Nicole Endres, a graduate student in health journalism, said she was treated as an equal when she looked for jobs after graduating from the University of St. Thomas.

“As far as the job market goes, my girlfriends and I haven’t noticed a big difference between men and women,” she said.