December 1, 2007

Politics & Social Issues

Why is Education So Important for Women?

by Holly Watson

Here in America, we value many different things as individuals, but collectively we tend to thrive on a parallel foundation: Money, and all material things stemming from money. For some people, the idea that one's social status is an important aspect of life seems to have been instilled in them at a very young age. How do we obtain the status we crave? What is the process of life that allows us to acquire the perfect home, the sportiest car or the beautiful interior furnishings we want in order to show off to our peers? The answer lies in our higher education.

Years ago, a couple could marry at a young age and the husband would work while the wife took care of the household. Such a couple could start a family with no education beyond high school because industry did not have the expectations it possesses today. A man could apply for a vacancy, start working the next day and work there for years. A typical family could prosper on this single income alone, and the job likely required no more than a twelfth grade education. In the world today, however, this is no longer the case. Many of the jobs that are currently available require a minimum of a four-year degree.

For those who do not finish high school and go on to college, career choices are very limited as well as competitive in areas where the majority of the population does not pursue higher education. It also makes it very difficult for a family of four to live on a single income when the best wages available for one without a degree are so low. Obtaining a degree in a field of interest is essential for the economy as well as the welfare of the American family.

Making the decision to invest in an education can be difficult and frustrating; however, the end rewards include self-sufficiency, self-worth from a sense of accomplishment and pride, higher wages in the workforce, and setting a positive example for your children in the future. Self-sufficiency is vital due to the possibility of the unexpected. You never know when you will become the sole provider for your family. For example, when a husband dies unexpectedly, his wife is often left without sufficient means to support her children. In some instances, there is no financial preparation to protect the widow and her family.

The incidence of single parent homes has become somewhat common in our modern society. There are approximately 10 million single mothers in America today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This number has increased from 3 million in 1970. (U.S. Census Bureau Website) Single mothers hold the highest rate of poverty across all demographics in America; approximately 60 percent compared to two parent families at only 11 percent.* These statistics help make the case for women, single or otherwise, to earn a degree.

Education gives us knowledge and sets the foundation for our lives. The ability to learn and teach is one of the things that sets people apart from animals; it is what gives us the power we have and control over our own futures. Education is the single investment that can never be taken away from a person, and it offers women today a competitive edge in an aggressive job market. Education is necessary for the world to continue evolving as it has for centuries.

*Stop the world so I can get off for a while: Sources of daily stress in the lives low-income single mothers of young children. Olson, S. L., & Banyard V. Family Relations, 42, 50-56. 1993