New Jersey colleges and universities have seen an average of 40,000 more women than men as undergraduates over just a five-year span ending last fall.
Years of enrollment data show that NJ has been part of a nationwide, decades-long trend of notably more female college students.
Last fall alone, female undergrads outnumbered male students at NJ colleges by a count of roughly 171,000 to 141,000. State higher education data does not include a non-binary category, at this time.
How much money do graduates earn?
Rutgers University public policy professor Jocelyn Elise Crowley says while the numbers do show positive movement in educational opportunity — the question — and the problem — is, what happens after they leave college?
Crowley, professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, said there are still the same, traditional patterns that have played out for years.
Higher-paying “STEM” fields have still been largely dominated by men.
A clear example — NJ post-secondary degree trends for the school year ending 2022 showed 71% of graduates from both NJIT and Stevens Institute of Technology were men.
The gender gap in jobs
Crowley said a continued obstacle is occupational or job segregation.
“Women tend to go into fields that pay less than men — sometimes even if they are in the same field, they’re paid less because of some type of conscious or unconscious bias by employers,” according to Crowley.
While men have been steadily doing more household work and spending more active parenting time with their own children — women also still do the bulk of family child care, she continued.
Crowley said a crucial tip for female college graduates is to know their worth — do lots of research and negotiate fair, competitive starting salaries as they job hunt.