Throughout the world, education contributes to bigger paychecks and a better quality of life for women.
By Jordan Burnham, Illustrations by Jessica Wetterer
Mary Gentry Kavanaugh graduated from Baylor University in 1855, making her the first woman to graduate from the school and the first woman in Texas to graduate from a major university. Women would not be fully integrated at Baylor for several more years. While the University of Texas allowed both male and female students from its inception in 1883, Texas A&M University did not allow female students until 1963, 80 years later.
Girlstart, a nonprofit that offers STEM programs for K-12 girls, served 949 girls in its after-school program in Central Texas in 2018. Ninety-seven percent of young women who participated in the program were able to do so at no cost, allowing them to develop a passion for fields in which women are underrepresented.
Higher ed doesn’t come cheap. The average annual cost to attend a four-year public university in Texas in the 2016-2017 school year was $17,799, amounting to $71,196 to complete an undergraduate degree with room and board, $6,756 less than the national average. A four-year degree from private institutions in Texas averaged $167,916, $2,000 more than the national average.
According to a 2017 Austin Community Foundation report, 29.7 percent of women in Travis County have a bachelor’s degree and 16.2 percent of women in the county hold a graduate degree. This means 45.9 percent of women in Travis County hold some form of higher-education degree. A variety of socioeconomic factors, from economic security to teen pregnancy to safety, impact women’s ability to attend and stay in school. And though more women graduate than men, women are more likely to experience poverty.
14 to 19 Percent
According to a 2018 World Bank study, women who receive a primary education will earn 14 percent to 19 percent more money throughout their lifetime than women with no education. Those who go on to receive a secondary education will earn twice as much, and women who complete tertiary education will earn almost three times as much as those who were never educated.