In Sacramento, more than 1,200 teachers recently received pink slips, perhaps the first step to losing their teaching jobs. “An engineering major is so dry,” the Sacramento student, L. said as she cringed. “It’s so boring to women who are interested in relationships, in people, not in data,” she added.
Will this Sacramento student end up in poverty in her old age? She majored in English and minored in art. “I didn’t take a social work or counseling major because I want to work entirely at home online,” she added. Is this woman headed toward the same poverty in which her grandmother currently lives? Another student says, “My major is neuroscience. I’ll apply for medical school when I graduate.”
Why do so many women in Sacramento and even nationally choose college majors that pay the lowest wages and leave many of them in poverty in old age? For example, according to a recent article from CBS MoneyWatch, 97% of early childhood education majors are female. And a degree in early childhood education recorded the second lowest pay ($36,000) of the 171 majors studied in the latest report on salaries and college majors. For more information on the recent study, see the May 24, 2011 news article, “8 Tips: Picking the Best High-Paying Jobs – CBS MoneyWatch.com.”
Will she get accepted? Finish medical school? Or will she, like her grandmother, also end up in Sacramento, living below the poverty line in old age? The issue is the long waiting list at CSUS in Sacramento for majors women usually select, and the type of grade average and preparatory courses required to be accepted by UC Davis. How will women stay out of poverty in the next generation here in Sacramento. Let’s take a look at the realities of local eduction and job preparation for careers that don’t lead to poverty by middle age or later for local women.
Sacramento may have some of the longest waiting lists for impacted programs in local colleges such as American River College, Sacramento City College, CSUS or UC Davis where jobs are waiting–higher paying jobs that lead to life-long careers. But what are the highest-paying majors for women that don’t have long waiting lists? And you can prepare for them early in life by studying to excel in your math and science courses as early as middle school.
The trick is to find majors where comparatively high-paying jobs await after graduation without having to take a graduate degree immediately after college graduation to find work. Women in engineering may be paid $20,000 a year less than men in engineering, but at least they can find a job. The question is whether they can find a new job after age 40 or 50 if they lose their previous job. Old age discrimination in engineering is common. But old age discrimination in the health care fields are not as common, particularly if you’re an M.D. or D.O.
Today’s Sacramento women are advised not to major in subjects that traditionally attracted women such as art, English, social work, psychology, counseling, or theater arts, costume design, child development, home economics/consumer science, or history. Advice usually is directed at women to choose majors men usually major it, for example the various technical and engineering fields such as mechanical or electrical and software engineering. But many of these jobs are now outsourced overseas.
That leaves petroleum engineering and pharmacology, although lately, pharmacists are finding jobs scarce, and many are opting to stay in school for the PhD in medical pharmacology. So where are the jobs for Sacramento women? The majors may change, but choosing majors that mostly men major in is one path to probable employment. For example, at UC Davis, 85% of students in the school of Veterinary Sciences are female. But how many jobs in Sacramento are there for graduates considering competition?
On the other hand, some veterinarians are retiring. The choice is to major in a technical subject that most guys major in and go for the higher salaries, or take a two-year course in being a technician or assistant to help out the higher-paid men? Sacramento women who want the higher pay will sign up for the ‘guy’ major, such as mechanical engineering. Some Sacramento women will join the military services after they graduate with a ‘guy’ major in petroleum engineering or pharmacology. Others will compete with male graduates for the higher paying jobs available.
Sacramento women who want to make the most money right after college graduation without having to go back to school for a graduate degree (and pay an additional $25,000 a year in usually borrowed tuition expenses) should major in patroleum engineering or pharmacology. Sure, the chances are higher that jobs are waiting, right after graduation.
There are jobs of course for nursing majors right after graduation, as long as you pass the licensing exam for the R.N., but for those not interested in nursing or wanting a job with the highest paying salaries right after graduation, check out a major in petroleum engineering or pharmacology. You won’t have to wait years on a waiting list to get into Sacramento’s various and possibly impacted majors in nursing or physical therapy, that usually have waiting lists.
A new study released on May 24, 2011 by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reports that the college major you select does matter greatly in your future earnings. If you live in Sacramento, what majors really relate to actual jobs, especially for women, found here in Sacramento? It’s in the sciences, engineering, and technology.
The study noted that people in the USA with the highest-paying jobs earn about 300% more than those with the lowest-paying college majors. Since the cost of a college education is so much higher today than it was a generation or two ago, make sure the degree you do earn will increase your lifetime earnings more than high-school graduates more than 84%. Your college major counts for up to four times as much.
The key is not to major in a subject that puts you in poverty in your middle or old age after you’ve spent the same amount on your education as someone who majored in a subject that pays enough to allow that person to retire comfortably after a 40 or more year career. Read the report from the study, “What’s it Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors.”
Not every student in Sacramento has the ability to earn four-year college degree in the specific areas that pay the highest salaries to start. Some jobs are more apt to hire young people and less inclined to hire older job seekers in that field, should the person lose a job in mid-career or after age 40 or 50. The first question, is do you really need math to stay out of poverty in Sacramento? Do you need a tutor to help you? And how can you afford a tutor if your family can barely afford rent and food expenses–or you’re on your own at an early age?
What keeps most women out of higher earning through specific college majors is the long waiting list or the requirement of college-prep courses that emphasize high grades or at least a ‘B’ average in math, science, and engineering. For nursing jobs, which pay well, at least to maintain a middle-class lifestyle, the waiting list is long to even get into training in Sacramento. The same applies to physical therapy careers. Many Sacramento students can’t afford to pay tuition and live out of town. The next question, is are you able to pass math classes at the college level and handle courses in engineering or pharmacology?
Also see the California Watch’s February 18, 2011 article by Louis Freedberg, Lacking preparation, many 8th-graders fail algebra. If you’re a woman in Sacramento looking for a job, will you really use eighth-grade algebra or even high school algebra two and plane geometry?
Unless you’re a registered nurse, scientist, business manager, engineer, finance manager, computer scientist, statistician, dietitian, chemist, architect, dentist, or physician, or use math daily, not just any math, but math that requires algebra, chances are pretty good you won’t be asked to solve daily algebra equations or calculus, or computer science coding using algebra algorithms–unless your job requires several years of college algebra and calculus or statistics, or you’re a certified public accountant who had been required to take several years of college math in addition to your accounting and finance heuristics courses.
Why is passing Algebra One not only a high school graduation requirement, it is also one of the basic requirements for entrance into UC and CSU? Shouldn’t entrance into colleges also give the same weight to students who took four years of high school bookkeeping leading to a job as a full-charge bookkeeper, computerized record keeping, medical office bookkeeping, insurance coding, clerical practice, business math, and figuring out mortgage rates, budgeting family finances, handling money, real-estate math, balancing checkbooks, planning a budget for a family or a small home-based online business, and practical business or administrative assistant-related math that leads to jobs immediately after high school?
Why aren’t more of those math courses offered for people who plan to study for specific vocations in community colleges or perhaps major in public history, English, journalism, technical editing/writing, or publishing? For people who simply are not able to pass math beyond their fifth-grade textbook, why should they be shut out of colleges when they plan para-proprofessional careers such as office administration, getting a four-year degree in paralegal studies, or emphasizing their verbal skills?
Sure, elementary school teachers do need the two years of algebra and geometry along with a good foundation in arithmetic to teach elementary school math. But for English majors who plan a career in editing, indexing books, and digital publishing or journalism and history careers or even graphic design and advertising or public relations, should someone be shut out of a four year college major in public relations because they can’t get past algebra or even fifth-grade math?
It’s mentioned because there are numerous women in Sacramento who started falling behind in math starting with their fifth-grade math book. Often, the teacher took away their sixth grade math book and gave them a fifth-grade one in the sixth grade, and they didn’t do well with that book either. So what’s the solution? Open schools up to more job-related, practical business math, such as computerized full-charge bookkeeping and business math, for those who struggle with algebra.
Years ago, math teachers used to use the question mark (?) to replace the letter ‘X’ when trying to teach algebra to students who just didn’t understand how to solve equations. The question mark stood for what was unknown instead of the X. Being less abstract and more familiar, students understood the question mark to some extent but may have been scared off with letters such as X and Y.
Pushed onto plane geometry, many, including numerous women, became frustrated by repeated failures and dropped math entirely only to substitute foreign language study, ‘major’ art, or non-mathematical “Earth science” instead in high school courses. So why can’t colleges accept courses such as bookkeeping, record keeping, and clerical practice, business math, and business machines/computer operations, medical bookkeeping and office management instead of algebra one and two and plane geometry for students who are taking majors not requiring math courses–for example, English, history, political science, journalism/public relations, professional writing, or art?
Think how many hundreds of Sacramento women work in these fields compared to jobs requiring algebra (with teaching the exception) because you need to pass the C-Best National Teaching exam to get your credential even if you teach in public schools English, history, art, music, elementary school, or vocational education and other subjects where you never use math, for example when teaching students to write poems. (Exception is part-time adult education teaching and community college teaching.)
If you teach science or math, then of course, you need your algebra. But what about the real world in Sacramento that most women occupy–doing daily clerical practice and record keeping that requires adding, subtraction, division, and multiplication? You do need basic math skills to work your way up the career ladder.
Unless you’re in a field that uses algebra, statistics, or calculus daily, such as a psychologist or social scientists using statistics to do research or a geneticist, will your career really be limited to minimum wage jobs if you don’t pass algebra and prefer four years of bookkeeping and record keeping courses instead of algebra 1 and two and plane geometry in high school?
There are plenty of jobs if you go into military service where you will be using algebra, for example in electronics or aerospace research and design. But you won’t be using algebra if you’re a graphic designer, photographer, or fashion stylist. If you want to teach English in public schools in Sacramento, you do need algebra and geometry to pass the C-Best national exam to obtain your teaching credential whether you want to teach music in kindergarten, art, or writing poetry, elementary school teaching, or teaching journalism in high school. But you don’t need algebra to teach English in community colleges, except there are too many graduates applying for too few jobs in careers that don’t require algebra. So take your pick.
The problem in Sacramento is that many eighth-graders who have been pushed into taking high school algebra lack the preparation they need to succeed in those classes, and are being set up for failure. When you start interviewing women in Sacramento, you find that some of them started having problems with math as early as the beginning of the 5th grade when they encountered fractions. Teachers sometimes make the mistake of taking away someone’s 6th grade math book and giving the person, many times a woman, a 5th grade math book to work on if she didn’t do well the year before in math, when she completed the fifth grade.
This practice when and if it’s done sets up the woman (rarely does this happen to a male) for being confused in the 7th and 8th grade math classes and being pushed into 9th grade math in middle school without preparation. So sometimes the female student fails 9th grade math. This might happen in algebra or geometry or both. With male students, often they are told they need algebra for a career whether in the trades or in the professions.
On the other hand, some female students having trouble with math are told to take a career training in paralegal studies or focus on doing the best they can with what they have wherever they are. In the 1950s, many women were shuffled into classes in shorthand and typing and record keeping or clerical practice.
Some took four years of bookkeeping and emerged ready to work as a full-charge bookkeeper or executive secretary. Now that title is administrative assistant, and shorthand is gone from most of the requirements to find a job. Remember the 1950s advertisement in public transportation that read, “Sure, I received my bachelor’s degree, but Speedwriting got me a job.”
The implication that men were able to find jobs easily with the courses they took in college, whereas women who graduated with a four-year degree had to learn shorthand or speedwriting at 80 words per minute in order to get any job at all. But here in Sacramento, the main problem for girls and boys simply is that a lot of kids are just not prepared for taking 8th grade algebra.
That is one of the key findings of a report by EdSource released today, titled “Improving Middle Grades Mathematics Performance.” It takes a close look at California’s push in recent years to have students take Algebra I in the eighth grade instead of in high school.
Since 2003, the number of students taking Algebra I in California has soared by 80 percent. The increase has been most dramatic among low-income, African American and Latino students, many of whom did not previously have access to the course in the middle grades.
Sacramento students take a test called California Standards Test (CST) for math when they’re in the 7th grade. However, nearly one-third of eighth-graders in California who took the Algebra I standards test in 2010 – some 80,000 students – scored at a “below basic” or “far below basic” level, which is regarded as a failing score. Those figures included nearly 51,000 Hispanic and more than 8,000 African American students. The question when it comes to women and math is who in Sacramento prepares women for algebra?
You have men and women with problems in math, but the rumors still abound that women somehow are afraid of algebra courses but not of math courses related to business such as bookkeeping and business math that they think they might use daily in figuring mortgage payments, interest income, household finance, or on a job.
Whether it’s giving change (which now is automated in eateries) or working in a bank, a lot of women in Sacramento would rather take business math that leads to a job, perhaps dealing with finance or real estate math or work with computer operations than take an abstract math course such as algebra. The solution to this problem for women and men is to make sure kids are really prepared in math for what lies ahead. At least the career door stays open when kids pass math.
In some Sacramento private schools, children take four years of math in high school including calculus one and two and advanced placement tests in calculus, physics, and chemistry by the time they graduate from high school. This is similar to what students are taught in some other countries. But how many public school students in Sacramento are really prepared for the rigor of the college-prep curriculum?
Sacramento women, on the average–people with average ability–are not taught math at the pace at which they can really learn what they need to in order to finish college-preparatory math. And for those who aren’t going to college, emphasis in math might be more focused on what real jobs require when they ask for an aptitude for figures.