In the Virgin Islands, women outnumber men significantly in higher education, both as students and as educators. This situation mirrors those in the rest of the Caribbean islands (Browne and Shen 173), where women also participate more in it. It also presents a problem since, if the current trend continues, women will dominate the nation’s academic landscape entirely, which can lead to numerous concerning developments. This essay asserts that the reasons for the gap are the different reasoning for enrollment, the structure of Virgin Islands higher education, and low expectations for men. As such, the solutions would be to increase expectations for men meaningfully and increase educational opportunities in subjects where men participate.
The first and foremost reason why women tend to enroll in higher education more than women throughout the world is that they are more likely to enter the workforce immediately. Men are more capable of manual labor than women, which means that more positions that do not require higher education are available to them as they graduate from school. Moreover, some of them may be pressured by their families into doing so, particularly in working-class circumstances where doing so may be necessary for financial support. Unable to perform manual labor as well, young women are likely encouraged to attend university before starting their careers.
The second reason is that the only higher education facility in the Virgin Islands, the University of the Virgin Islands, may offer programs that are better suited for women than men. Sax et al. confirm that the two sexes have significantly different preferences for specific subjects, with men dominating STEM and women more prominently featured in liberal arts (281). With three of the University’s five divisions teaching female-dominated subjects, the disparity may be caused by this imbalance. Lastly, Pinkett and Roberts mention traditionally lower expectations in school academic achievement for men when compared to women. Not being pushed as hard to succeed, they perform worse and ultimately fail to enroll at a university even should they desire to do so.
The first potential solution to the problem would be to encourage young boys to work harder in school. Pinkett and Roberts assert that, while many parents and teachers claim to have high expectations of their male children, they do not practice these stated convictions. With educators who actively and fairly work to inspire both sexes to obtain higher education and help them achieve the academic results necessary to do so, the first and third reasons can be at least partially addressed. The second solution would be to expand the University of the Virgin Islands’s course options, opening divisions that are suitable for men. As a result, they will enroll more and obtain new specialties, with everyone involved benefiting from the increased education levels and improved equality.
Overall, the gender disparity in higher education in the Virgin Islands is reflective of broader issues worldwide, which many highly developed nations still struggle to address. It also takes place for much of the same reasons, with women benefiting more from a bachelor’s or master’s degree and being encouraged to obtain one. To address the problem, more education opportunities have to be provided for men, and they should be encouraged to use these options. With that said, monitoring of worldwide phenomena is still advisable to notice other practices that have succeeded in curbing the issue and replicating them if appropriate.
Browne, Raffie A., and Hong Shen. “Challenges and Solutions of Higher Education in the Eastern Caribbean States.” International Journal of Higher Education, vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, pp. 169-179.
Pinkett, Matt, and Mark Roberts. Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools. Taylor & Francis, 2019. Google Books e-book.
Sax, Linda J., et al. “Anatomy of an Enduring Gender Gap: The Evolution of Women’s Participation in Computer Science.” The Journal of Higher Education, vol. 88, no. 2, 2017, pp. 258-293.