Child Care and STEM Fields Are Called Barriers to Women at 2-Year Colleges

The shortage of affordable child care and the gender stereotypes that discourage women from pursuing careers in mathematics and science are two of the biggest barriers holding women back in community colleges, according to a report released on Thursday by the American Association of University Women.

The report, “Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success,” recommends policies and practices to help women succeed at two-year colleges. It focuses on the need for affordable, convenient child care and for more-aggressive efforts to steer women into the relatively well-paying STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, or math).

According to the report, a year of child care can cost more than a year of college at a four-year institution, with a price tag of $4,650 to $18,200. That’s more than many students can afford.

LaKeisha Cook, 31, is a single mother who is studying to become a physician’s assistant at Montgomery College’s campus in Germantown, Md.

Knowing that her 3-year-old daughter is just minutes away in a campus-based day-care center, “I can go to class with peace of mind,” she said during a conference call for the news media with the report’s authors.

Most of her cost is covered by a federal program, Child Care Access Means Parents in School, but she worries that the money might dry up.

Support for the federal program has dropped from $25-million in 2001 to $16-million last year, according to the report’s authors, Andresse St. Rose, a senior researcher at the university women’s association, and Catherine Hill, director of research there. <Read more.>

Via Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

You may also find this interesting: AAUW Urges Action on Child Care, Women’s STEM Participation at Community Colleges by Ronald Roach in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.