UVU is piloting small scholarships to help students with housing costs, food insecurity 05

Hailey Sanders, a senior studying anthropology, studies as she has a meal on the campus of Utah Valley University on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Orem. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

According to a new federal report, women are surpassing men in UVU graduation rates for the first time, as recently reported by the Herald’s Braley Dodson. Thirty-five percent of all undergraduate students completed their degree; 37% of women did, while 34% of men did.

We applaud this news and congratulate the female students at the university for their hard work and dedication.

Now, before accusations of man-bashing come flying, as they unfortunately often do at good news for women’s progression, we in no way intend to affront the male student population by congratulating their female counterparts. This new statistic reveals great character in our local female college students, who still have the burden of overcoming historic gender repression that led to poor college enrollment and graduation rates in the past.

What’s more, women are bucking the trend of dropping out after getting married, changing it to a false stereotype rather than a true trend. Women in Utah especially have a history of this pattern, and we’re delighted to see these new stats suggest that local women don’t feel as much pressure to leave their university once they have a ring on their finger if they don’t want to.

The uptrend in female graduation rates is thanks in part to a yearslong initiative from the university’s Women’s Success Center. The increased rates are a positive result of a culmination of a decade of hard work, as the senior director of the center told our reporter. The center started due to historically low enrollment and completion rates among UVU’s female students, and focuses on support, community, outreach and engagement in order to help UVU’s women fulfill their potential.

Acknowledging the gender graduation disparity and implementing this center was a brilliant move on UVU’s part years ago, and we hope the center continues to receive the support it needs from the university to continue its support of female students, who could still use the extra help even as gender graduation percentages even out.

Though the data shows females are now graduating with a bachelor’s degree at higher rates than males at UVU, that one stat doesn’t show the whole picture. There is definitely progress, but there is still more to be done. Women continue to enroll at significantly lower rates than men. This contributes to Utah’s overall poor numbers for women enrolling in and graduating college when compared to the rest of the U.S.

UVU officials say they acknowledge they are not where they need to be when it comes to encouraging and supporting enrollment gender equality, and that they have to do better. They’re using the released data to inform their action moving forward, and we hope that action continues strong as time goes on rather than flicker out.

While UVU is working to continue to help its female students succeed, we encourage the general public to do their part as well. Encourage the young girls in your life now to reach for higher education when they’re older, and help them in whatever way you can to apply and enroll when the time comes. Further that encouragement to reach for a degree when female students get married while in the middle of school. Of course, nobody should feel pressured to complete a degree if that is not their desire; college isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. But as female graduation rates continue to rise, it appears women are feeling more and more able and empowered rather than held back from receiving a higher education.

We as a community still have a ways to go in order to show encouragement rather than discouragement to young women when it comes to enrolling in college in the first place. Let’s do our part to help that percentage reach a level playing field with male enrollees, just as the graduation percentage already has.