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1 of 8 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 9 Number 51December 8, 2001ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2001, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education .Gender Barriers in Higher Education: The Case of Taiwan Ru-jer Wang National Chung Cheng University Taiwan, R.O.C.Citation: Wang, R. (2001, December 8). Barriers in higher education: The case of Taiwan, Education Policy Analysis Archives 9 (51). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epa a/v9n51/.Abstract As a consequence of the rapid expansion of higher e ducation in Taiwan over the past decades, the enrolment of females in higher education has grown considerably. However, this article reports t hat in terms of institutional difference, access to advanced study, and differing subject preferences, the barriers to women's participation in higher education remain. Thus, the findings drawn from this article lead to the conclusion that females still suffer disadvantages in access t o higher education, although the expansion of higher education in Taiwa n has substantially benefited females over the past few decades Introduction
2 of 8 In Taiwan, there has been a significant diminution in gender inequality in entrance into higher education, as is shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 indicates that only about 11 per cent of the students enrolled in higher education in 195 0 were female, while by 1998 the percentage had increased to approximately half (50. 36%). This shows a remarkable increase in the number of women entering higher edu cation, largely as a result of the rapid expansion in higher education over the past d ecades. Figure 1. The Percentage of Females in Higher Educa tion by School Year 1950-99. (Source: Ministry of Education, 2000a, Education St atistical Indicators, p. 33.)In fact, the increase in female access to higher ed ucation in Taiwan has been in line with that of the worldwide increase. The UNESCO World Ed ucation Report for 1998 revealed a general trend in female intake into high er education, and showed that in terms of the gross enrolment ratio (females to males), fe male students have significantly increased in number in OECD countries. For example, in Australia in 1985, the gross enrolment ratio of female in tertiary education was about 27.0 per cent. The figure increased to 73.5 per cent in 1995. Over the same p eriod some OECD countries have experienced similar increases in this regard, as in dicated in Table 1.Table 1 Gross Enrolment Ratios of Female in Tertiary Educat ion in Some OECD Countries 1985 (%)1995 (%) Australia 27.073.5 Canada 77.7110.2 France 30.355.4 Germany ...38.5 Japan 19.836.3 Netherlands 26.646.0 Spain 28.649.8 United Kingdom 20.150.8 United States of America 64.391.7
3 of 8 (Source: UNESCO, 1998, World Education Report, 1998 pp.148-151.)However, there is a growing concern with the issues relating to female participation in higher education in Taiwan recently due to the demo cratization of society in Taiwan. The main purpose of this paper is therefore to exam ine gender barriers in higher education in Taiwan, and the following sections wil l pay attention to three aspects of female access to higher education: (1) the represen tation of females as students among different types of institution of higher education i.e. university, college and junior college; (2) the distribution of females as student s in advanced study i.e. for a master's degree and a doctor's degree; (3) female choice of subjects of study. Finally, some observations are concluded from the previous examin ation.Female Access to University vs. Non-university Inst itutions of Higher EducationAs indicated earlier, opportunities for women to st udy in higher education in Taiwan have significantly increased over the past decades, as seen by the relatively high proportion of females now entering higher education Nevertheless, the focus should now move on from the problem of how to increase fem ale participation in higher education in general, to an examination of the fact that there is a noticeable difference in the numbers of females attending university and the numbers of females attending the lower level non-university institutions in higher e ducation. In terms of institutional difference females are under-represented in univers ity institutions (universities and colleges) and over-represented in non-university in stitutions (junior colleges). This conclusion can be drawn from the following statisti cal information. In 1996/1997 females made up about 46.48 per cent of the total n umber of students attending university and college sectors, while they comprise d 53.51 percent at junior colleges (See Tables 2 and 3).Table 2 The Number and Percentage of Students Enrolled in U niversities and Colleges by Gender and Subject in 1996/97 HumanitiesSocial SciencesScience & Tech.Total Females 61,353 69.85% 81,398 58.16% 53,531 27.53% 196,282 46.48% Males 26,493 30.15% 58,569 41.84% 140,977 72.47% 226,039 53.52% Total 87,846 100% 139,967 100% 194,508 100% 422,321 100%(Source: Taken from Ministry of Education, 1998, Ed ucation Statistics Abstract, Table 5-3, p. 19.)In terms of subject preference, females were overre presented in Humanities and Social Sciences, but underrepresented in Science and Techn ology. The difference between male and female numbers in junior colleges, is not dissi milar to that in universities and colleges. These statistics are reproduced in Table 3.
4 of 8 Table 3 The Number and Percentage of Students Enrolled in J unior Colleges by Gender and Subject in 1996/97 HumanitiesSocial SciencesScience & Tech.Total Females 16,738 77.63% 105,905 83.17% 109,522 38.44% 232,165 53.51% Males 4,825 22.37% 21,444 16.83% 175,431 61.56% 201,700 46.49% Total 21,563 100% 127,349 100% 284,953 100% 433,865 100% (Source: Taken from Ministry of Education, 1998, Ed ucation Statistics Abstract, Table 5-7, p. 21.)The fact that more females are entering non-univers ity institutions rather than university institutions can be seen in Figure 2, where the dis tinct tendency in female participation in different institutions of higher education from 1970-1999 is reflected in the two approximately parallel curves indicating the number of females in university and college sectors and junior college sector respectively. Figure 2. The Percentage of Females in Universities and Colleges, as well as Junior College by School Year from 197099.(Source: Ministry of Education, 2000a, Education St atistical Indicators, p. 33.)Although there will be a variety of reasons why the percentage of females attending junior colleges is higher than that of females in i nstitutions of higher education and while each stands in need of further investigation, what is relevant to this paper is that this difference has obvious implications for any ex amination of the issue of access for women. This is because the fact that there is a hie rarchy of prestige among Taiwan's higher education institutions. Compared with univer sities and colleges, junior colleges in Taiwan are seen as being inferior in terms of prest ige. This in turn reflects upon the perceived status of the qualifications awarded. If women continue to be
5 of 8 Female Choice of Subjects to StudyLet us move on to look at significantly differing s ubject preferences between males and females. As far as subject preference is concerned, there is a significant distinction between males and females seeking admission for uni versity and college in Taiwan. It is interesting to note that the success rate for admis sion to the Social Sciences and Humanities as a whole was 54.78 per cent compared t o a 66.87 per cent success rate in admission to the Science and Technology. It is impo rtant to consider that the number of applicants (68,778) for places in the Social Scienc es and Humanities exceeds the number of applications to the Science and Technology (14,7 53). This in effect means that women will find it more difficult to gain admission in th e Social Sciences and Humanities. (See Table 5).Table 5 Gender Differences in Admission to University and C ollege by Division in 1998DivisionApplicantsPassers Admission (%) TotalMaleFemaleTotalMaleFemaleTotalMaleFemale Social Sciences & Humanities 67,87426,20242,57637,67613,88923,78754.7853.0155.87 Science & Tech. 14,75313,2431,5109,8658,8471,01866.8766.8164.42(Source: Ministry of Education, 2000b, Education St atistics of the Republic of China, p. 39.)These facts suggest that women, due to their differ ing preference in subjects of study, have still suffered some disadvantages in terms of entrance into higher education in Taiwan in the past. A solution may be found if atte ntion is focused on two main areas (Thomas, 1988): First, the socialisation processes that currently affect gender roles in education. For instance, an attempt should be made to change the traditional values that dominate gender, role and opportunity, whereby men are regarded as more appropriate for scientific work and women are seen as fitted fo r social work. Second, a greater range of subjects should be offered to girls at secondary education level. Another possible solution would be to increase the places available for study in the social sciences and humanities.Concluding RemarksBased upon this examination of the data, it appears that all the evidence so far presented has clearly indicated that in Taiwan females do sta nd less chance of obtaining access to higher education. First, in terms of institutional type, females are entering less prestigious non-university institutions (i.e., juni or college in Taiwan) rather than universities. Second, males stand a better chance o f being accepted than females, largely as a result of the remarkable difference shown in s ubject preference between males and
6 of 8 females. Third, in terms of access to higher educat ion, it is very disappointing to conclude that females are still lagging behind in t heir access to university, especially to advanced study. In conclusion, although the expansi on of higher education in Taiwan has substantially benefited females over the past few d ecades, women still suffer disadvantages in access to higher education.ReferencesMinistry of Education (1998). Education Statistics Abstract Taipei: Ministry of Education.Ministry of Education (1999). Statistics on Higher Education Graduates in the R.O .C., School Year, 1992-1997 Taipei: Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education (2000a). Education Statistical Indicators Taipei: Ministry of Education.Ministry of Education (2000b). Education Statistics of the Republic of China Taipei: Ministry of Education.Moore, K. M. (1987). Women's access and opportunity in higher education: toward the twenty-first century, Comparative Education, 23 (1), 23-34. Thomas, K. (1988). Gender and the Arts/Science Divi de in Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education, 13 (2), 123-137. UNESCO (1998). World Education Report 1998 Paris: UNESCO.About the AuthorDr. Ru-jer Wang Director of Graduate Institute of EducationNational Chung Cheng UniversityTaiwan, R.O.C.160, San-Hsing, Ming-Hsiung, Chia-Yi, TaiwanTel: 886-5-2720871 Fax: 886-5-2720875E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgDr. Ru-Jer Wang received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Manchester (UK) and is currently an Associate Professor and former dire ctor of the Graduate Institute of Education, National Chung Cheng University. His mai n research and teaching interests are educational administration, comparative educati on, and higher education, knowledge management and education, and the knowledge economy and education. He is also in charge of the Center for Research into the Knowledg e Economy and Education. He has published more than 30 research papers and four boo ks: Educational Administration (1998), Comparative Education (1999), The Theory and Application of Knowledge Management: The Case of the Education Sector and It s Innovation (2000), and The Knowledge-based Economy and Education (2001).
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