Researchers in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development found that women who are starting college are more likely to avoid certain majors because of the perceived discrimination they would encounter within those fields. After analyzing attractive attributes of different college disciplines to predict who would choose what major, the study concluded that the most important factor women consider when choosing a major is discrimination. After women have begun their college careers, they will eventually have to choose a concentration. NYU must ensure that women are not discouraged from pursuing their desired majors by working toward eliminating biases within fields.
While 57 percent of NYU’s student body is composed of women, New York has one of the largest gender gaps in education attainment in the country. Discrimination serves as a barrier for the advancement of women in male-dominated fields. Not only do women face structural obstacles in the pursuit of higher education, but once they achieve their goal of being accepted into a university such as NYU, they are more likely to deviate from their intended course of study. NYU should investigate the culture of the majors it offers to examine and fix the ways women are discriminated against within these disciplines. This investigation must include the voices of female students whose careers are hindered by the inequalities of our current system. Moreover, the faculty and students of affected majors should be made aware of the possibility that the environment they have fostered is discriminatory and unequal. Awareness is the first step to addressing the lack of gender equality in college majors.
According to the Director of Marketing and Communications at Tandon Kathleen Hamilton, the class of 2021 is more than 40 percent female. While this statistic is not shockingly low, it still remains unequal. At NYU, 58 percent of our undergraduate population is female. Although there are other women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics across the campus in schools like the College of Arts and Science, Tandon should continue its efforts to admit equal gender representation into its programs in order to encourage more female applicants in the future. The world of academia needs more leaders to pave the way for the talented and intelligent women trying to pursue a career in STEM. As the largest private university in the United States, NYU should be doing everything in its power to carve out this path.
That is not to say that NYU is not taking steps to encourage and advocate for women in fields that are predominantly male-dominated. There are a multitude of initiatives around campus such as the CAS Women in Science, which is research-driven program, and Tandon’s Women in Engineering, Science, Technology and Mathematics, which brings together a host of women trying to advance their position in STEM. Nevertheless, at such a decisive time in the world, when the battle for gender equality rages on, it is NYU’s responsibility to act as a champion of equality for women in higher education.
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CORRECTION Jan. 24: A previous version of this article cited statistics detailing the number of women in Tandon that are outdated. WSN has since updated the article with current statistics, courtesy of the Director of Marketing and Communications at Tandon, Kathleen Hamilton.