- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Women enrolled in Maryland colleges and universities at twice the rate of men over the past 25 years, according to a report released yesterday by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Helen Szablya, a commission spokeswoman, attributed the pattern to increasing opportunities for women in the workplace.

“As a result, you have more women seeking degrees, because once they get the degree, they can use it,” she said.

The commission establishes policies for Maryland colleges, universities and for-profit career schools.

The study — which collected data from more than 60 universities, colleges and community colleges across the state — found that from 1978 to 2003, the number of women enrolled in state schools increased by 57.2 percent.

The number of men enrolled during the same time increased by 24.7 percent.

By 2003, women accounted for 59.2 percent of students in Maryland colleges and universities. They accounted for 56.7 percent of higher-education students in the country, according to the report.

In Virginia, women made up 54.9 percent of the student population at public, four-year universities in 2002, according to a report by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Michael Keller, director of policy analysis and research for the Maryland commission, said the changing student population should result in colleges and universities changing their curriculum.

“They’re going to have to give consideration to providing programs and services that may be of special interest to women,” he said.

The study also shows a sharp increase in minority women enrolling in Maryland colleges and universities. Their enrollment increased by 55.5 percent from 1993 to 2003.

The biggest increase was among Hispanic women, whose enrollment increased by 96.9 percent from 1993 to 2003.

Enrollment among Asian women increased by 39.2 percent and by 55.3 percent for black women during that period, the report says.

The number of white female students in state colleges and universities decreased by 5 percent.

Carrie Lukas, director of policy for the D.C.-based Independent Women’s Forum, said men are entering college at a lower rate because they are struggling in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“While we can celebrate the success of women, it’s time for us to realize we need to focus on the problems of young men,” she said.

The topic of female students in higher education recently re-emerged when Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers suggested innate sex differences might explain why fewer women enter or reach top positions in scientific fields.

The Maryland study shows 16.5 percent more female college and university students have enrolled in the science and technology fields since 1993.

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