What universities should do to prevent the segregation of degrees
According to studies from the Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, students join college in groups based on their majors rather than race and gender, and they also graduate in groups.
Students’ majors group them more broadly than just what they intend to study when they first arrive on university. Their area of study also significantly divides them along racial and gender lines.
However, the higher education system does nothing to address the problem, thus the same racial groups of students continue to graduate.
This is supported by a report released in August by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, a research team dedicated to boosting economic inclusion in the United States. The investigation discovered that, contrary to how schools view and market themselves, higher education actually encouraged field-based segregation and the ensuing inequity.
According to the research, “postsecondary educational systems continue to accentuate injustices in our society through racial and gender segregation inside higher education, which adds to racial and gender segregation later in the workforce, damaging individuals, communities, and our economy.”
How universities encourage occupational segregation
Students of color and women continue to be underrepresented in professions that typically lead to employment with high earning potential and status, despite various diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Registration for college is where this scenario begins. Men are less likely to pursue education or healthcare whereas women are less likely to enroll in computer science or engineering degrees. The report’s analysis of recent graduates by gender indicates that it is unlikely that they will later transfer into a significantly different degree program.
Men received bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering at a rate that was more than four times higher than that of women in 2020. In the same year, 19% of women and only 5% of men received bachelor’s degrees in healthcare-related disciplines.
The difference is more than just a matter of taste.
“Choosing a major or a topic of study is not merely a personal choice. These decisions are influenced by students’ life experiences, social networks, K–12 education, postsecondary instructors, advisers, and institutions, as well as broader societal influences, such as sexism and racism, according to the paper.
Black women are systemically underrepresented in disciplines like business, engineering, and computer sciences, for instance. Additionally, the survey found that students of color generally had lower degree completion rates than students of color.