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Gender Issue in Russian Higher Education

In: Social Issues

Submitted By winning88
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International Capstone: Barriers to Higher Education – Gender Issue

* Gender Issue in Higher Education – Russia Perspective * Increasing Level of Female Participation in Higher Education
Over the last 10 years of economic reforms, the educational system, including higher education, has changed a great deal. The number of students at higher educational establishments rose by almost 40%, mainly because of the increase in women students. In 1992-2000, the number of male students rose by 327,000 or 25%, while the number of female students, by 763,000 or 50%.

* Lack of Gender Awareness
In access to education gender discrimination is less apparent than in other fields. 77% of women and 82% of men noted equal access to education in general, though 20% thought that women have fewer opportunities to receive education.

In addition, the lack of gender awareness among decision makers in the higher education field is another problem. In Russia, there are no women ministers of education or heads of higher education departments. Thus, discrimination is more likely to develop when cross-group interactions are low, according to the contact theory. However, this clear underrepresentation of women at senior levels in both academic and administrative hierarchies is not perceived as an issue.

* Gender Related Profession Discrimination
Despite of the number, the fact that it is in the predominantly "female" professions where fees were introduced, while the traditionally "male" professions remained "free", can be assumed that for-fee education has affected mostly women. This means, that the expenditure of federal budget money allocated for education is becoming more and more gender asymmetric, and not in favor of women.

* Growing Discrimination Policy
As for higher education, an important factor that complicates women's access is growing discrimination policy on the part of educational establishments themselves. The gender factor alone reduced the chances of the female applicants to higher educational establishments by 2.4% in the 1960s, by 6.2% in the 1980s, and by 12% in the 1990s. At the same time, the share of women willing to save money for education is 20.7% as compared with 14.6% among men. In their efforts to receive higher education men are motivated mainly by a wish to escape army service.

* Low Material Return from Education
In all countries women lag behind men in regard to wage levels, but in practically all of them, this gap is narrowing as educational levels rise. The reverse trend is observed in today's Russia. For example, the 1998 survey from the RLMS5 showed that for the seven identified educational levels, from "no secondary education" to "higher education," a woman's average wage varies from 53% to 66% of a man's. Only a small fraction of women who have completed a postgraduate course enjoy practically the same salaries as men with the same education, i.e., 94% of the men's. The lowest material gain from education was noted in those professional groups where women predominate, and the biggest one - in traditional "men's" professions. In addition, despite the barriers of entering the labor market, female have much less chance to get promoted compared with male workers.

* Research and Reform Obstacles
Due to some characteristics of the Collectivism, there is lack of rigorous and reliable quantitative and qualitative evidence of a gender gap in education that could be used to demonstrate the need to look at those aspects of the educational processes related to gender or to demonstrate the problem’s existence, size, specificities, and implications for the educational system. Despite the changes in educational contents, the government still lacks the subtle and consistent commitment to social changes and an activist orientation within academia.

* Gender Issue in Higher Education – US Perspective
Over the past two decades, women have made substantial educational progress. The large gaps between the educational levels of men and women that were evident in the early 1970s have essentially disappeared for the younger generation. Women are less segregated in particular “feminine” fields such as education and the humanities as they once were. However, women still lag significantly behind males in science and engineering degrees. While more of the professoriate is composed of females today than in the 70s, there continues to be a disparity in the salaries, rank, and promotion of women compared to men, which cannot be accounted for by such human capital variables as degree, rank, length of service, number of publications, etc.

There is still resistance and sometimes hostility toward feminist scholarship, which continues to be devalued. However, women and people of color have had a tremendous impact on the curriculum of the university. One could argue that feminist scholarship and the scholarship generated by faculty working in the fields of racial/ethnic, cultural and area studies, has been the source of most of the intellectual innovation in the academy since the 70s.

A troubling development is the institutional reorganization of colleges and universities to achieve cost cutting goals. At the same time that more women and minorities gained access to the academic profession, the quality of the conditions of work and the status of the profession are declining. In addition, a great number of US universities began to provide pre-enrollment career counseling services to promote employment, especially of female and minority students. Other efforts include helping reduce working environment gender discrimination via the cooperation with employers, such as in the campus recruiting process, etc.

* References
Laura Grunberg, Access to Gender-Sensitive Higher Education in Eastern and Central Europe, European Education, 2005
Ellen Hawley McWhirter, Perceived Barriers to Education and Career: Ethnic and Gender Differences, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 1997
Elena Mezentseva, Gender Inequality in Today Russia: Who bear the social costs of reforms?
OECD, Report on the Gender Initiative: Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship, 2011
Karen Dugger, Women in Higher Education in the United States, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 2001…...

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