Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / Wisconsin women, graduate school, and the professions
Swoboda, Marian J.
Chapter 14: Traditional and non-traditional choices of disciplines by women, pp. 135-151
14. Traditional and Non-Traditional Choices of Disciplines by Women by Marian J. Swoboda Background The number of women enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and profes- sional study in the University of Wisconsin System' increased substantially during the last six years. At the beginning of the 1972-73 academic year there were 57,057 women enrolled. Six years later, at the beginning of the 1978-79 academic year, 72,411 women were enrolled. The enrollment of men during the same period declined slightly. The number of men enrolled at the beginning of the 1972-73 academic year was 76,268 compared to 75,523 at the start of the 1978-79 academic year, a decline of 745. Because of this increase in the enrollment of women in the University of Wisconsin System, coupled with the knowledge that women have traditionally entered courses of study congruent with social sex-role stereotypes, it was considered an appropriate time to examine in depth two critical questions in regard to the choice of disciplines by women. The first major question ad- dressed is: Are women leaving their traditional fields of study, and if so, to what degree? The second question is: Are women entering non-traditional majors, and if so, to what extent? The importance of these questions and of the study rests with the need to know whether or not women are entering areas of study through which equity in the world of work and careers can best be achieved. At the present time women are not found in very large numbers in those instructional program areas considered to be the traditional training ground for leadership roles in industry and business, in education, or in the scientific world. And, it is not likely that the situation will change until the realities of sex-role stereotyping in education and career selection are addressed and overcome. Although this study is primarily concerned with women, it is not possible to analyze their choice of discipline without also examining the choice of dis- cipline by men. Major choices made by men are, therefore, also considered. Methods Summary This study concerns itself with those students at the junior level and above because a major is generally not declared until the junior year. Stu- dents at the junior level or above who had not declared a major are not in- cluded in the study.2 The study sample includes 25,134 women in 1973 and 28,889 in 1977; 35,482 men in 1973 and 35,135 in 1977, for a total of 60,616 students in 1973 and 64,024 in 1977. The data for the study is based upon 1973-74 and 1977-78 fall enroll- ments. It is presented in graph form in appendices A and B. Appendix A compares the actual enrollment change for women and men between 1973-74 and 1977-78 by instructional program area. The program areas are listed in order of greatest enrollment of women in 1973-74. Appen- 135
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