Is Student Debt A Modern Day Challenge for Women?

28.02.24 08:52 PM Comment(s)

While many American students continue to fight the uphill battle of the Student Debt Crisis, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) states that women hold two-thirds of U.S. student loan debt, just under $1 Trillion. 

Through centuries, women have displayed the courage to overcome challenges, defy vicious societal norms, and have risen to greater heights of success with each succeeding generation. Women’s History Month is a tribute to celebrate great achievements by women and their contribution to American history. It gives us an opportunity to recognize women’s varied and often under-recognized accomplishments throughout history. 

Coming back to the student debt crisis, datacollected through various surveys clearly points out the prominent existence of the gender gap in student debt loans. Let's have a look at the reasons contributing to this disparity: 

Importance of Education 

Women recognize the power of education and consider it as a valuable asset for financial independence. They are more likely to enrollin college and complete their degrees. They lean on student loans as a tool to afford college education to secure a better future. Hence, women do borrow and accumulate student loans with a plan to pay them off with better future income. 

Advanced Degrees 

Women are more likely to continue with education and opt for advanced degrees. Recent statistics show, women earned 40% more of the graduate degrees than men. This is great for those women who get advanced degrees, but the reality is that they get further buried in student debt.  

Gender Biased Employers 

Women who wish to work face a tough time in achieving equal pay. Women with bachelor’s degrees or higher make 76% of what men do with the same qualifications. Pay discrimination is the most prominent reason for women struggling to repay student loans.  

Bias Against Mothers 

Women who are mothers or are of childbearing age are less likely to hear back from recruiters. The (erroneous) conclusion is that their devotion to family and childcare makes them less committed and unable to put in long hours like their male counterparts, especially at high-level jobs.  

Professional Growth 

Despite advanced degrees and exceeding performance standards, women are denied promotions to executive roles. As suggested by this report, “For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted.”  

As the title suggests, women in the corporate world face numerous modern-day challenges which deny them an equal footing to deal with student debt as compared to their male counterparts. They are fighting this battle on both fronts. Women face pay discrimination and carry the lion's share of the student debt burden. 

Each of the challenges mentioned above poses a barrier to the professional progress of women. We, as a society, must solve the student debt crisis but we have to recognize that it will take even more to solve the student debt crisis for women.