Take a look at nearly any university campus and you will notice that there are significantly more female students milling around from class to class than ever before. There are more women in every class, more women in the dining halls, more women in the dorms, and more women at the graduation ceremonies than there were in your grandparent’s time, your parent’s time, or even your older sister’s time. This is because in the past decade, more women have begun earning a higher education, with the number of female students increasing with each school year. Now, the number of women walking out of college with a degree is nearly equal to the number of men doing the same thing.

While men are reaching a plateau in terms of academic performance, women are still climbing, which explains why women are outperforming men even though men are not necessarily doing worse than they were before in terms of college. As the male population holds their position steady for college education, the female population is kicking into overdrive and flooding the academic halls. As of 2009, 29% of women over the age of 25 had attained a bachelor’s degree, compared to the 30% of men who had one as well, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But in terms of raw numbers, women have actually surpassed the amount of men holding undergraduate degrees by approximately 1.2 million, according to an article published on MSNBC. Women are even on the verge of outpacing men for graduate degrees as well, with females earning half of the master’s degrees conferred in 2009, the article reports.

This increase in females with a higher education has caused shifts in the work force. While there are still many more males than females in fields like engineering, business, and science, more women are making a huge mark in fields like health care, education, finance, and communications, as well as taking on more powerful leadership positions. In fact, women accounted for an astounding 51% of all high-paying management and professional positions last year, the Department of Labor reports. In other words, women are finally beginning to earn more equal pay and be offered more equal advantages in the professional world. Make no mistake, men still hold the majority of the highest paid positions and still tend to have more power in the work place, but the amount of educated women entering the work force is rattling the glass ceiling that has kept females out of top positions for so long.

The rapid surge of women earning higher degrees could be due to the women’s movement and the decades-long struggles women have gone through in order to earn the rights to vote, work, and earn an education. This sense of having finally earned these rights may have contributed to the more fervent desire for women to take advantage of the opportunity for a higher education. On the other hand, women may also be flocking to college in great numbers and performing well because they know that they need something more on their professional resumes in order to gain an advantage over a male competitor. Unfortunately, women still face a level of discrimination in the professional field, so many may earn degrees to ensure that they will stand a chance in the work force. Whatever the reasoning behind the drive for women to attend college, one thing is clear: women will soon surpass men in terms of enrollment as well as graduation.

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