The History Major: Where are the Women?

Last month our department went on it’s annual retreat to discuss various things like the major and pedagogy.  At my suggestion, we discussed Mills Kelly’s blog post, “A Looming Disaster for History,” which observes that history departments around the country have a gender problem when it comes to enrollment.  At CCSU, female students make up 50% of the student population, but only 36% of our existing history majors are female. [in contrast, nearly half of our full-time faculty are female. We also offer classes on gender.]

Things may be looking up:  this fall, 46% of our newly admitted/transfer/readmitted students are female.  This is the largest cohort of women in several years.

We speculated about various reasons, e.g. we have a nursing program and a social work program, so female students tend to gravitate towards these majors that are career oriented.  We don’t have any clear answers though.

So, colleagues at other institutions of higher education:  do you see this same problem?  If so, have you figured out the cause of this gender gap?  Any ideas on how to remedy it?

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