Online Doctoral Programs: Breaking Down Barriers for Women

Online Doctoral Programs: Breaking Down Barriers for Women

Kathleen Scarpena
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3583-7.ch006
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This chapter examines the role of online education in removing the barriers that prevent women from entering, and ultimately successfully completing, doctoral programs. Three core questions guide this chapter as it examines this complex problem of practice: Do online doctoral programs mitigate access barriers specifically for women? What are the implications of access-based college choice decisions for women? How can increased access to online doctoral programs shrink the gap for women in fields where they are underrepresented? This chapter also includes solutions and recommendations for practice designed to support online programs in creating expanded access and opportunity for women, particularly those impacted by underrepresentation, in terms of entry into and completion of doctoral programs.
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Background Setting The Stage: Impact Of Gender On Women In Doctoral Programs

Despite significant strides within the past decade, there are still signs of gender inequality present within doctoral programs (Dua, 2007; Weeden, Thébaud, & Gelbgiser, 2017). While there are more women than ever enrolled in graduate programs, especially at the doctoral level, they remain underrepresented in STEM specific fields, as well as some medical and dental specialties (Dua, 2007; Saeed, Jimenez, Howell, Karimbux, & Sukotjo, 2008; Shavers & Moore, 2014; Weeden, 2017). They also remain underrepresented in faculty populations, which can complicate mentoring relationships for female students (Brown & Watson; 2010; Clauset, Arbesman, & Larremore, 2015; Main, 2018). Additionally, although women enroll in graduate programs at higher rates than men, they complete programs in longer periods of time and have slightly higher rates of overall attrition. An overview of some of the core issues impacting women within doctoral programs including multiple role stress, academic integration and gender, race and class, and underrepresentation. This chapter serves to provide an overview to help set the stage for the women in graduate programs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Women: Adult persons who identify as females.

Right Fit: Ability of the student to adapt and integrate into the institutional and academic community socially, academically, and financially.

Access: A means of gaining entry, in particular, access to higher education opportunities.

Online Programs: Degree programs that can be earned entirely or mostly through internet-based distance learning. Some campus-based classes may be part of the program; however, the majority of classes must be taken in an online setting.

Underrepresentation: Insufficient or disproportionately low representation.

College Choice: The decision made by students to enroll in and attend a particular institution of choice.

Opportunity Cost Decision-Making: Decision-making process where the person making the decision essentially sacrifices preferred or valued alternatives to select another option based on return.

Persistence: The return rate of students continuously enrolled within their program and/or institution each year until graduation.

Academic Integration: The action or process of integration within the academic community including, but not limited to, peer and faculty interactions, institutional culture elements, and program structures.

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