For more than fifteen years now, women have made up the majority of students at institutions of higher learning in the United States. And they are earning the majority of degrees, too: women have been awarded more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1996, and more master’s degrees since 2002. Finally, since 2009, women have also begun to edge out men in Ph.D.s awarded, with women taking home 52% of doctorates that year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
In online education, the picture is similar: the NCES reports that about 61% of online learners enrolled in undergraduate classes are women. What are some of the reasons women are opting in to online degree programs? This article, presented by American InterContinental University, looks at some of the factors driving women’s decision to choose online learning.
The Stay-At-Home Mother
The number of mothers who choose to stay at home are surely but steadily declining. However, there are still millions of mothers who have opted to stay at home with their children: the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were 5 million stay-at-home moms in 2010 (down from 5.3 in 2008).
55.1% of online degree program students in an associate or bachelor’s program claimed they had one or more dependents in 2007-2008, the NCES reports. It’s safe to assume that stay-at-home mothers are among that 55.1%.
Whether they are developing skills for an eventual return to the job market, continuing their own personal development, or setting a good example about the value of education to their children, online education’s convenience and flexibility means stay-at-home moms can pursue a degree without having to make special child care arrangements.
However, most online learners are employed, according to the NCES report. Working women probably choose online learning for the same reasons their male counterparts do: it's convenient to learn while you earn. Online education's flexibility allows working women to schedule study time around work and family obligations—and working women, according to long-term studies by the National Science Foundation, still do the bulk of core housework in married households.
Working women may want to pursue an online degree because they want to keep current with their field, or possibly prepare to compete for more advanced positions. They may also feel inspired to start down a new career path, and earn a qualification in the new field while continuing to work in their old one.
Military Personnel or Military Spouses
Finally, women who are enlisted military personnel, or who are married to an active-duty military member, have special circumstances that can make online education a good fit. Active-duty personnel and military families alike find themselves moving frequently as their deployments change, and an online degree program provides women in either military family role the opportunity for continuity in their studies.
Also, many online colleges are outlets of traditional ground-based institutions and, as such, can accept GI Bill® benefits to help pay for tuition costs. Often, colleges will also participate in voluntary aid programs, whether they include government-subsidized options such as the Yellow Ribbon Program, or scholarships and grants for veterans, active-duty students, and their family members that are funded by the institution itself.
Women who are in the military, or married to someone who is, should look for an online college that has a department dedicated to working with students in the military and their spouses. These institutions should have staff members who understand veteran and military issues in order to provide specific advice and assistance throughout the college experience.
This article is presented by American InterContinental University, a leading provider of career-focused education. Online or on-campus via AIU Online, AIU offers students degree programs without distractions. Find out more about AIU’s associate, bachelor, and master’s degree program offerings at http://www.aiuniv.edu.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.