As a college student, and specifically as an international student, I ponder upon what the future holds. I think about the skills I may need to navigate financial and emotional hurdles I may be faced with in my career and in my professional life and I think about whether my identity as a woman will impact it?
After all, female children, at birth, based on the human capital approach of valuing life are valued less than male children. Simultaneously, there is increasing evidence that, on the binary, women outperform men at high school and university levels. According to a New York Times article from 2009, 55 percent of the women graduated with honors compared with barely half the men at Harvard University. The same article mentions that at Florida Atlantic University, women formed 79 percent of summa cum laude graduates. The same is, I am sure, true today.
CNBC’s Women at Work survey supports my suspicion revealing that of the 1,068 working U.S. women surveyed, 54% were “very ambitious” professionally. The article cites statistics by McKinsey & Company that claims $4.3 trillion can be added to the American economy if gender parity is reached by 2025. Gender equity does not just have emotional implications but tangible economic benefits that significantly outweigh any cost.
This made me wonder- if women do so well and if our contributions are so valuable, why are less women promoted? Why do they get hired less? While I am still searching for convincing answers to these questions, recent studies have depicted that women are perceived as less committed to men and more likely to exit the workforce to fulfill personal obligations. To add to this, new mothers see a decrease in income with each child, but fathers in the same position see an increase in income.
This disparity really stuck out to me- why are women punished for the same thing men are rewarded for? On a more immediate level, I thought about what we, as college students, could do to grow professionally to gain a place in this system and be able to eventually help other women in it. While this is a difficult question to answer, I was able to compile a list of small things can help give any woman (or anyone!) an edge while applying to positions.
- Visit with your university’s career help center as frequently as you can. They are often a great resource to polish your resumes and prepare you for interviews. (On a side note: Universities often have a TON of free resources for students to use and they are not utilized as widely as they should be! Educate yourself about campus resources and ensure that you use them. )
- Financial independence, no matter what, is key. Research ways to become more financially literate (there are SO many free and credible resources online) and save money. This will allow you the freedom to choose a job/environment that best suits you.
- Professional development is equally about emotional equity. Make sure to support other women you encounter! Starting conversations about gender equality and inclusion for all genders is a great step forward in developing an empathetic mindset.
While these are not solutions to an overarching problem, they are doable ways to make you a more competitive and well rounded student. Perhaps through opening doors for ourselves, we can create a domino effect and a world where economic, professional, and emotional equality are reachable realities.
*Check out my Instagram page where I post helpful tips/reads for students relating to saving and studying.