Women now make up the majority of students in Canadian post-secondary education. But despite their high enrollment numbers, female students continue to deal with unique issues in post-secondary education, such as being underrepresented in STEM programs and higher rates of student debt for women.
This week, Quad-Fi took the time to learn from a series of female students in Ontario.
In the interview below, you will find a woman’s perspective on being an Arts student, underrepresentation on campus, micro-aggressions and the importance of empowering women on campus.
- Which program are you currently enrolled in and do you feel that being a woman has affected you in this program?
I currently study Speech Communications, which is a part of the Faculty of Arts and Business at my school. My classes are often small with more females than males in my program. In terms of professors I had a good mix of male and female professors, with most of my best classes being led by females. I don’t think that these professors were better professors due to their gender, but it’s just something I noticed. I also enjoy having female professors because it’s helpful to see that people who look and sound like me can succeed in my field.
My school is mainly known for their Engineering and Computer Science programs, so Arts students are often looked down upon. Arts students can often be seen as less superior because it’s less competitive, known for a “smaller” workload and known to have “lower paying” job opportunities in the future. I haven’t necessarily felt this due to the fact that I was a girl rather than an Arts student in general, but since most of my program is made up of girls this outlook can certainly be harmful.
- Do you think there are any areas on campus where women are underrepresented and how do you think that this can be improved?
I do think there is often underrepresentation in sports. I’m personally not involved with UW’s sports teams and clubs but I have noticed some groups where there were less females. I think this can be attributed to a lot of different factors. Some people may not be interested in these certain teams and clubs or these organizations could be advertising to more males instead which in turn can discourage more females to join.
There are resources such as the Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity and different services that offer support toward racial discrimination and combating diversity issues within campus. I do believe that all clubs and teams should have a code of conduct to acknowledge efforts that should be made to be more inclusive for everyone on campus.
- Have you had any experiences that sort of distinguished you as a woman on campus?
I think that when you live in a university town, you often run into or see social situations that definitely happen because you are a woman. I often see or experience catcalling and different microaggressions that make me uncomfortable. The fear of walking home alone at night is something that I found common with most of my female friends and not all of my male friends.
- Do you have any experiences with clubs/jobs/organizations on campus and how has being a woman impacted these experiences?
I’m president of a large club on my campus. I feel like I’ve personally had a great experience within the club from the first time I joined to when I started leading it. Throughout the process I had to learn the inner workings of organizing different events, running social media and being a leader people could talk to.
Once COVID hit and the club had to stop abruptly, I’ve taken time to understand how I can make the club more inclusive and a safer place for people to join in the future. I created a feedback form and someone shared to me the importance of having a female as a leader of a club. I never thought about it like that before and it helped me to realize the importance of having women in leadership positions to empower women and set an example as well.
Quad-Fi uses a bias-free process that celebrates rather than punishes people for personal characteristics like race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Take a look at our website to learn more about our student loans and refinancing, and remember to take care of yourself as best as you can—be it financially, physically or mentally.