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Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 10, 1998

Nationwide survey shows more women attend college than men

EUGENE, Ore. (U-WIRE) - Women used to go to college because they were supposed to find a husband.

They were told to major in fields such as home economics that would help them succeed at home. Gender discrimination wasn't even prohibited in education until 1972.

Times have changed. Women have been a majority at the University of Oregon for more than a decade. Their proportion in the student population now closely mirrors society.

"More women are involved in programs; more women are actively involved," said Rebecca Peatow, Women's Center office manager. "I see more women in the classroom."

The University of Oregon doesn't actively recruit women, said Martha Pitts, director of Admissions. Instead, the university's numbers have kept pace with the number of women going to college.

In fact, more women are going to college nationwide than men. Recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics found that 36 percent of female high school graduates between 18 and 24 years old went to college in 1994. Only 33.1 percent of men in the same group went.

Those percentages have remained fairly stable in the 1990s. Safety can factor into the college decision for those women, Peatow said. The Associated Students of the University of Oregon Women's Center answered several calls after the Student Conduct Code was revised to strengthen its anti-rape rules. Parents wanted to know if the changes indicated a growing problem.

"I think that's a big factor for the average female coming to this campus," Peatow said. "That problem exists in our society. Therefore, it's going to exist on our campus."

Such concerns may guide some students to smaller private colleges, Peatow said. But the university, as one of the state's main colleges, will still attract women at about their level in society, Pitts said.

But traces of the old inequalities still exist in the majors men and women choose. Men dominate the hard sciences, business and computer science. Women dominate the fields of education, psychology and biology.


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