CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS THAT IMPACT WOMEN PARTICIPATING IN CONTINUING HIGHER EDUCATION.
Pursuant of further education is the key to succeeding in the competitive job and business market (Jean-Marie and Lloyd-Jones, 2011).Research has shown that chief executive offices of top companies hold more than just a basic degree. Post-secondary education also gives people a chance to develop skills in area of their interest and hence increase satisfaction in one’s life. Inequalities have been seen to exist in the participation in post compulsory education that is usually sponsored by the federal government. These disparities are largely visible in pursuant of higher education. These inequalities have been seen to be more pronounced in between people of different social groups and gender (Battle and Doswell, 2004).Research has also shown that world over more men tend to pursue and complete their higher education compared to women (Martin, 2011).This therefore means that men are placed at a better position to achieve their academic and professional goals compared to women and this disparity in a country that advocates gender equity is unacceptable. While a lot of studies have been done to show disparities between access to higher education amongst the different sectors of the society little data exist to explain the reasons why less women tend to pursue higher education compared to men (Jean-Marie and Lloyd-Jones, 2011).
Statement of the problem
There is currently a lack of research on reasons why fewer women compared to men pursue higher education. This is despite many research reports showing that despite males and females starting off in equal number in pursuing basic education, the number of females reduces as one moves up the educational ladder and beyond the compulsory state funded education, with a smaller number of females pursuing higher education especially in competitive and academically challenging fields such as business administration and science fields compared to males (Chisholm and September, 2005).There is a lack of research on the challenges and barriers that impact women participating in continuing higher education. The purpose of this study is to identify the challenges and barriers that impact women participating in continuing higher education.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to establish the various factors that impede women in their pursuant of higher education. It will specifically look at how family obligations, financial constraints and cultural barriers impede women in their pursuance of higher education.
The Research Questions
1. Which family responsibilities pose a hindrance to women pursuing higher education?
2. Does ability to access financial assistance affect women’s ability to pursue higher education?
3. Which cultural barriers do women face in the process of pursuing higher education?
Definition of Terms
Social economic factors: Constraints arising from a person’s financial status and that make them face a life of poverty or financial empowerment.
Cultural factors: Limitations that arise due to beliefs and practices that one has acquired from the family and society.
Economic potential: Ability of a person to contribute to the family’s or country’s financial input.
Psychological factors: Constraints that arise from a person’s state of mind and internal convictions, opinions, fears and expectations.
Financial obligations: Cost that a person is supposed to meet as part of their contribution to the family budget.
Ethnic Minority: A group of people that are viewed to make up a small proportion of the total population.
Barrier: A deterrent to the achievement of a set objective.
Higher Education: Education beyond the secondary school level.
Organization of the Study
The first chapter gives a background of the research topic then states the problem that the research aims to address. The second chapter will review the literature that relates to the problem identified in chapter one by first looking at the situation worldwide and finally concentrating in the state of Florida and finally the third chapter will state the methodology that will be used to determine sample size which will be random sampling of 10% of the total population. Data will be collected using questionnaires.
Overview of Barriers and challenges that women face in pursuing education.
Education has and continues to be the key to achieving a better life; it gives one a chance to productively participate in income generation of the household. Women represent over half of the world’s total population and they hence make up about half of the total workforce .Women over the last two decades have made great strides in the education with most of them completing high school and going ahead to earn a diploma or a bachelor’s degree.Howevor there is a great underrepresentation of females in higher education (Allen, Dean and Bracken, 2008). World over the disparities in access of education between women and men differ greatly. The disparity is greatest in the African and some parts of the Asian continent, In the United States over the past twenty years a lot of effort has seen the disparity greatly reduced. This has been through increased learning opportunities.Howevor women are still not pursuing higher education as much as the men do. In the state of Florida this disparity has been noted and there is little data on the barriers and challenges that women meet when pursuing higher education. The hurdles that women face in pursuit of higher education is numerous and some of them are social economic in nature and others emanate from personal convictions of the woman (Mabokela, 2007).
Importance of Provision of Higher Education to Women
Women are the backbone of the families and as such the entire society (Bystydzienski and Bird, 2005).When they have higher education it increases their chances of gaining gainful employment or venturing into business hence contributing to the family income. It also increases their knowledge base enabling them to be better mothers. Having a post-secondary school certificate is also important as it boosts a person’s self-esteem
Barriers and Challenges to Accessing Higher Education.
Most women have a positive attitude towards higher education as they feel it gives them skills to solve their day to day challenges and increases their economic potential enabling them to run their families better by putting them in a position to meet the financial needs of their families (Lupi,2005).However they point out the starting of a family before pursuing higher education as greatly diminishing the probability of such ladies pursuing higher education (Altbach,2005).This they point out to be due to the emotional and psychological demands of raising children that leaves them too drained to concentrate on higher education and once children start to attend school and finances are limited preference is usually given to paying for the children’s school fees (Scott, Crompton and Lyonette,2010).Though over the years men have progressively become more involved in the care of the children the greater responsibility still lies with women and with an increase in number of single mothers the number of women bearing the burden of raising children alone is increasing further posing a constrain to pursuance of further education by these women (Bystydzienski and Bird,2005)They also point out that financial obligations that come with starting a family puts a strain on the family’s resources and this leaves the women with no money to pay for higher education (Chisholm and September, 2005 ).There is also the time constraints that the family brings with the demands of raising children and since most women work so as to contribute to the family budget, the women find it demanding to balance work and taking care of a family and hence cannot add the stain of higher education to their tight schedule (Lupi,2005 ).Once the women have become mothers their pursuance of their higher education is dependent on the convenience of the place of study. Most women are not willing to travel far from their families to pursue higher education and the logistics of relocating to a place closer to the university are complex. People have not also fully embraced the concept of e-learning that would offer a solution to the distance problem and by women placing more importance in being close to their families as much as possible and at times the courses that they would wish to study are not offered in the university located in their neighborhood they end up giving up on their pursuance of higher education (Battle and Doswell, 2004).This makes most women to abandon the dream to further their education all together.
Financial concerns rank high as a hurdle to pursuance of higher education by women. A study done by the American Association of University Women that was recently done showed that women were more likely to give lack of money coupled with lack of information on the financial aid that they can get to finance their education as a great hurdle to pursuing higher education. The study found that about 69 percent of the women entered the job market after completing only secondary education compared to men whose number was at 55 percent (Mabokela, 2007 ).Of these women who sought employment after completing only secondary education which is free and compulsory 51 percent stated that they would have been more likely to pursue higher education had they obtained information about available financial aid that was more user friendly (Altbach,2005 ).Over the years there has been diminishing resource provided to the universities making it harder for the universities to set up endowment funds for students that may require scholarships ( Bystydzienski and Bird,2005 ).This reduced financing by the federal government has particularly had a negative effect on university campuses that had been reserved for minorities and these are the universities that serve a larger population of black women and Hispanics further putting a constraint in their ability to attain higher education by this group of women who are already socio-economically disadvantaged (Chisholm and September, 2005 ).
This is a great barrier that mainly affects women of African and Asian origin (Hill and King, 1997). In most of these countries there still exists a preference for the education of the male child and where there occurs a financial constraint the preference is always given to the male child (Scott, Crompton and Lyonette,2010).Also some of these communities especially those with conservative Islam background prefer to keep the females less exposed to the outside world and hence shun higher education as they consider the environment in the universities too liberal (Jean-Marie and Lloyd-Jones ,2011).Women in these parts are also socialized to believe that their greatest role is to take care of their homes, husbands and children and many of them end up putting a low premium in pursuance of higher education(Altbach,2005).
Previous studies have been concentrated among less privileged women such as those from lower social economic status and also among the women in Africa. Yet little data exist on barriers and challenges faced by women in the United States hence this research will provide the information needed.
The study will use descriptive survey research design. This is design that seeks to give a description of the state of affairs as it exists and reporting the findings (Kerlinger, 1995).Descriptive survey involves collection of information by use of interviews or administration of questionnaires to a selected sample of the population.
The study targets the female students currently undertaking higher education at Tampa Bay in state of Florida.Prelimenary investigation has shown that there is a total of 2564 female student undertaking higher education in the college.
The study will employ proportionate random sampling technique. A sample of 257 female students shall be picked randomly from the total population of 2564 female students in the Tampa bay. This constitutes 10% of the total population of the targeted female students.
Data Collection Instruments
Data will be collected using structured and open –ended questionnaires. Questionnaires will be used since the study is concerned with collecting data that cannot be directly observed such as views and perceptions of the respondents and such information can only be collected by use of questionnaires as it poses questions that make the respondents give their views and opinions on the subject matter (Kerlinger, 1995).
Data collection Procedures
The data will be collected using survey method that includes use of questionnaires that will be distributed to the respondents. The respondents will be required to fill in the questionnaires that will be collected by the researcher after a week at the same venue.
Allen, J. K., Dean, D. R., & Bracken, S. J. (2008). Most college students are women: Implications for teaching, learning, and policy. Sterling (Va.: Stylus.
Altbach, P. G. (2005). American higher education in the twenty-first century: Social, political, and economic challenges. Baltimore [u.a.: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.
Battle, C. Y., & Doswell, C. M. (2004). Building bridges for women of color in higher education: A practical guide for success. Dallas: University Press of America.
Bystydzienski, J. M., & Bird, S. R. (2005). Removing barriers: Women in academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Chisholm, L., & September, J. (2005). Gender equity in South African education 1994-2004: Perspectives from research, government and unions: conference proceedings. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
Hill, M. A., & King, E. M. (1997). Women's education in developing countries: Barriers, benefits, and policies. Baltimore, Md. [u.a.: John Hopkins Univ. Press.
Jean-Marie, G., Lloyd-Jones, B., Frierson, H. T., & Emerald. (2011). Women of Color in Higher Education: Changing Directions and New Perspectives. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Kerlinger, F.N. (1995) Foundations of Behavioral Research. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston Publications.
Lupi, M. H. (2005). Special women, special leaders: Special educators and the challenge of leadership. New York, NY [u.a.: Lang.Top of Form
Mabokela, R. O. (2007). Soaring beyond boundaries: Women breaking educational barriers in traditional societies. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers
Martin, J. L. (2011). Women as leaders in education: Succeeding despite inequity, discrimination, and other challenges. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
Scott, J., Crompton, R., & Lyonette, C. (2010). Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century: New Barriers and Continuing Constraints. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Pub.
1. Do you have a family of your own? (Yes/No)
2. If yes list the family obligations act as an hindrance to your pursuit of higher education.
3. If these obligations were lessened would you pursue higher education?
4. If the answer to 3 is no give reasons for this.
5. How do you finance your higher education?
6. Are you aware of scholarships available to female students in your area of study?
7. Have you made an attempt to access these scholarships?
8. If the answer to 7 is no give a reason for this.
9. Tick the social economic factors listed below that in your opinion act as a barrier to female student pursuing higher education.
Women are culturally supposed to concentrate on raising a family.
When resources are scarce it is preferable to educate the male member of the family at higher education levels.
Females from low social class do not value education.
Early pregnancy is a hindrance to female perusing higher education.