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Influences On Utah Women’s College Choices Detailed In Reports

31 January 2011 No Comment

January 31, 2011
For Immediate Release

For more information: Susan Madsen (801) 863-6176
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Karissa Neely (801) 863-6351

Researchers with Utah Valley University’s Utah Women and Education Project(UWEP) have released the findings of its two-year study into Utah females’ lagging higher education attendance and graduation rates. In its first of four monthly releases, UWEP details the benefits of higher education for Utah women and the influences fathers and mothers individually have on daughters’ college aspirations.

The first research snapshot, “The Benefits of Higher Education for Women in Utah,” details UWEP’s discovery “that many young women in Utah do not understand the broad value of an education.” A high percentage of Utah women do not get college degrees because they believe they will never use them, and these false perceptions often prevent them from pursuing a degree. But findings indicate that female college graduates not only improve themselves, but that their attainment of higher education is also important to the state’s economic future. Many young women also believe they are being encouraged to attend college but not necessarily graduate.

While most study participants understood the financial benefits of a degree, many saw this as the only advantage, and many who do not plan to work outside the home after marriage believed they would never need a degree. Research snapshot No. 1 describes the many additional intellectual, social, community, health, familial and economic benefits for educated women.

Research snapshot No. 2, “The Influence of a Father on a Daughter’s College Decision,” describes how a father’s education level, his educational priorities in the home and his personal attitude about learning all influence a daughter’s college choices and completion levels. Fathers “have a significant influence on their daughters’ college choices, regarding graduating from college, not attending at all, or attending then dropping out,” the report states.

The third research snapshot, “The Influence of a Mother on a Daughter’s College Decision,” points out for mothers, “simply wanting a daughter to attend college was not enough to motivate many young women to pursue a degree.” Mothers must be actively engaged in their daughters’ educational experiences, including: helping and encouraging their daughters with homework, encouraging good grades and attending their school activities. These activities powerfully impact their daughters in college choices and goals.

“Since Utah currently ranks below the national average in percentage of women attending postsecondary institutions, studies like Dr. Madsen’s are extremely important in helping encourage women to obtain college degrees,” said William Sederburg, Utah’s commissioner of higher education.

“The results of our in-depth research are fascinating and also helpful. Our series of 12 snapshots will share both results and specific recommendations for young women and those who can have a positive influence on them,” said Susan Madsen, director of the Utah Women and Education Project and an associate professor of management at UVU’s Woodbury School of Business. “Our hope is that our research can in some way help facilitate change in Utah — more women attending and graduating from college.”

The two-page snapshots are available to the public online at www.uvu.edu/wep.

Media Note: This is the first of four monthly press releases that will detail specific results and findings of research from the two-year Utah Women and Education Project.

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