You might have immediately thought of all the sex scandals pouring out of Hollywood when you saw this headline, but this is about the questionable choices that are made by some women regarding their focus on education and their choices for advanced degrees.
This particularly came to light when former Google employee James Damore wrote a memo/manifesto regarding what he stated was “encouraging diversity in the workplace”. Damore’s statement was branded by the Mainstream Media as an “anti-diversity screed.”
There certainly was plenty of discussion about the memo which was originally meant for distribution within Google at the time. One of the people who wrote about the issue was Bernard Goldberg who delineated the top 10 master’s degrees for men and women as compiled by the College Atlas. Goldberg wrote that four of the top 10 for men had to do with engineering or computers.
As for women, the list includes Nursing, Business Administration/Management and Social Work. These degrees are pretty straight forward as to what someone would use the advanced degree for in their career choice. The other seven top ten degrees are related to the field of education:
- Elementary Education
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Education Leadership
- Special Education
- Counselor Education
- Reading Teacher Education
This is what we want to analyze.
Let’s start with the first one which is a Master’s of Education. That kind of makes sense. Once you look at the other six degrees, you can wonder what the value is of this general degree in “Education” if the other six define a “specialty” in the area of education.
That is just the beginning. There are eight other master’s degrees you can get in the education field. Two of those degrees are truly fascinating. One is a Master’s of Higher Education. You go to a school of higher education to learn how to induce others to be involved in getting a higher education degree? Then there is the advanced degree in Teacher Education. You need a special degree to educate teachers in how to educate students?
You have to wonder why all these degrees came to be and what exactly they are for. A friend of mine pointed out to me when I was writing this column that he thought they principally exist because teachers get a bump in pay from their school districts simply by having an advanced degree. He is correct; that exists in most or all union contracts. If you take the bump in pay and then add to that the commensurate bump in pension benefits, the cost and pain endured to get one of these advanced degrees may be worth it for the student, but does it benefit their students? Looking at it that way could be considered cynical.
You just might wonder why someone needs to get a master’s degree in reading education. You might think that it is very much a basic skill that any teacher should have -- especially a teacher who works in elementary education. Unfortunately, there is now a need for remedial reading education at many of our colleges, which leads one to question how good those advanced degrees have worked in the first place. While researching what exactly the degree does, I found one source stating, “The degree prepares you for jobs such as Literacy Coach, Reading Specialist, and Reading Teacher Interventionist. The degree helps teachers exercise greater responsibility as literacy leaders in their school or district.”
This all reminds me of when my son was starting college and was looking at getting into the field of sports administration. He told me there were 190 colleges offering degrees in the specialty. I quickly surmised he might be better getting an undergraduate degree in business. When he went to the University of Kansas and worked for the Athletic Director, we started investigating a master’s degrees in Sports Administration. The Kansas AD, Lew Perkins, told me he would rather my son get an MBA. That tells you how valued these sports admin degrees are in the real world. If you lock yourself into a specialized degree, you may eliminate your flexibility in the job market in the future.
The that fact you can get a master’s degree in 15 or more different subspecialties of Education speaks volumes about our university system today. The fact that women make it seven of their 10 favorite categories for master’s degrees defines the problem that exists. Most of these specialty degrees pigeonhole someone unnecessarily and would be of little value unless union contracts made them of value. In a free market many of these degrees would never exist.
When women make up 17 percent of the engineering degrees awarded, you cannot blame men. You certainly can point the finger at all these women getting advanced degrees in these questionable education categories. They seem to be perpetuating the stereotype of women not focusing on STEM degrees. Certainly, all those women getting a Master’s of Counselor Education might be held responsible for not advising young women to consider a different path.