In my business classes, I’m often the only African American woman in the room.
Though there are usually equal numbers of male and female students, this ratio is not reflected in the faculty. Out of the 23 business classes that I have taken, only nine of them have been taught by women.
The University of Miami student body is pretty gender balanced. The class of 2018 was 49 percent male and 51 percent female, according to UM’s website. This data is consistent with national trends of higher female enrollment in colleges and universities.
However, if you look at female enrollment based on major, some fields still have a wide gender disparity.
According to U.S. News & World Report, as of July 2013, only about 25 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree holders were women. The percentage of women studying business is higher, but the gender balance varies across majors. According to data compiled by Bloomberg Business, in majors like information systems and finance, men outnumber the women 2 to 1.
Because of lower female enrollment and retention rates in these majors, schools are actively working to change the perception that business and STEM are skewed toward males.
In order to encourage more women to join these demanding but rewarding fields, we need to go and reach out to them. While many may have potential, some women may need help overcoming the initial impostor syndrome.
Programs like the Society of Women Engineer’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day effectively do just this. There are also organizations housed at the School of Business, like Women in Business, that seek to provide a safe space for collegiate women.
Though these schools are working on attracting and retaining top female students, there is still work to be done from both sides.
We have to move beyond the mindset that our workplaces are “boys’ clubs” and instead consider it what it is: a career.
Taylor Duckett is a senior majoring in business law.
Featured photo courtesy Dave Herholz via Flickr.