More and more people are earning advanced degrees and returning to school to school these days in lieu of poor job prospects but women seem to be doing so more than men. And while most women currently feel the odds are against them, economists say this strategy will be more beneficial down the line.
In the last two years, the number of women between the ages of 18 to 24 who are in school rose by 130,000, compared with an increase of just 53,000 for men. Already, studies suggest that women are pickier about their job choices than men, and for a number of reasons including the ability to rely on a spouse, family responsibilities, or low pay. Consequently, women see the economic climate as an opportunity to improve their professional marketability by advancing their studies, while men are more willing to take whatever job they can get, an article in the New York Times found.
“The jobs out there just aren’t very good, and men seem more willing to take them for whatever reason,” said Jonathan L. Willis, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “The women are looking at those same jobs and saying, ‘I’ll be more productive elsewhere.’ ”
In the long run, women will find that they have acquired a broad skill set of skills that provides a significant advantage over men whose prospects are already limited. Given that fact, Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for American Progress, said she’s not surprised women are returning to school in droves, but “the real question is: Why aren’t more men doing that too?”
That’s a very legitimate question, and one researchers haven’t quite found the answer to, other than idea that societal norms still tell men they need to support themselves independently and be the breadwinner when it comes to relationships. This makes sense when you think of the stigma placed on men who still live with their parents but work full time. A woman who does the same thing either as a full-time employee or student is often not looked down upon nearly as much or at all.
But, as things currently stand, women are still losing a significantly higher number of jobs than men, forcing them to get creative with their careers. The bottom line is if you’re thinking of going back to school, now is the time to do it.
Are you pursuing more education as a result of the recession?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.