Sociology and Anthropology
Gender inequality; Higher education; Cultural differences; Institutions
This project explores how gender inequality in contemporary society impacts the individual’s experiences in their career path, especially in regards to higher education. We document experiences that gender minorities have in their academic disciplines and gain insight on how individuals overcome or do not overcome being the gender minority. Our data come from in-depth interviews with college professors and survey responses from college students in gender segregated fields such as nursing, STEM, early education, and family studies. For this study, according to information gathered and published by the university, a “gendered field” at URI is determined by two thirds or more of the students within that major belonging to one gender group (male or female). These gendered majors held true for faculty as well, since the composition of these departments typically matched the proposed ratio from the student data set. We find that being a gender minority in a field presents challenges and obstacles such as lack of possible mentorship and less opportunity for advancement. However, we also discovered that some individuals use their numerical minority to their advantage depending on multiple different external and internal factors. This study adds to existing scholarship on gender & higher education by uncovering the ways in which gender minorities can find more opportunities and encouragement due to their status as the minority, as well as ways in which they might be more limited.