Historically discouraged from seeking an education, women today make up most of the CSU. At Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles alone, women make up at least 60 percent of the student body.
According to the CSU gender gap search engine, at Cal State Fullerton there are 15,486 men enrolled and 20,670 women, creating a gender gap of 5,184.
Women made up 57 percent of the fall 2011 student population, according to research by Cal State Fullerton analytical studies.
Christine Nguyen, a freshman at CSUF, said there is an overwhelming amount of female students.
“In my classes … I see more girls than boys,” said Nguyen. “In one of my classes there are only five boys out of 30 or 40 students.”
Eric Yin, who is in his second year at CSUF, said the gender gap is correlated to the majors offered at CSUF.
“Maybe a lot just go here seeking the right major,” said Yin.
Yin said the highly esteemed reputations of certain majors are the forces that attract more women to the school as opposed to men.
“From what I hear, nursing is a pretty popular major among women, so I guess it’s really one of the top majors here … that could be a factor,” Yin said.
There are several factors that have contributed to this shift.
Renae Bredin, Ph.D, a professor in women’s studies, said some of the majors offered at CSUF resonate more with female students, such as nursing and teaching.
Bredin said, historically, this university began as a teacher’s college and the teaching profession has been dominated by women. In other words, what CSUF has to offer attracts more women than men, and as a result the gender gap is created.
This shift occurs simply because the amount of women choosing to go to college is increasing to a greater extent, Bredin said, and that this is not because of male students not going to college. In fact, the number of men going to college after high school has stayed consistent.
Bredin said a big reason there isn’t a growing number of men going to college – specifically minority men – is due to a lack of outreach. Also, there is not enough effort in giving these men the resources and confidence allowing them to believe they can go to college.
“Certainly, I think we need to address the problems of young men who feel like they can’t go to college,” said Bredin. “One of the areas that really needs to be seriously addressed is the question of young Latino, African American, Asian men … who feel like they don’t have access.”
Bredin said programs that give outreach and mentoring for young minority men will help more men of color to go to college. Once there, Bredin said programs helping men get through college need to be implemented as well. So, hopefully, not only are more men going onto higher education, but more are graduating from college too.
Another huge factor Bredin related to the gap is that women are realizing the opportunity at hand and taking it.
“More women understand that in order to make the same amount of money that a man makes, they have to get a college degree,” Bredin said.
Being independent and obtaining a career is a message women have been receiving since the women’s rights movement began in the 1850s.
Nguyen said it is the whole concept of women’s independence that has been the driving force behind this growing gap.
“It’s pop culture,” she said.