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Educational Opportunities

Enhancing Educational Opportunities for Women and Girls in West Virginia

West Virginia girls and women face more challenges to educational attainment than men, which can hinder opportunities in education and career pathways.

CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME

  • Expectations of parents, teachers and society can influence girls’ educational decisions.
  • A gender gap in the interest and performance in STEM fields often begins before girls finish elementary school and widens as they enter the workforce.
  • Unconscious bias impacts girls’ decisions at a young age. The idea that science and math are typically “male” fields while humanities and arts are typically “female” fields can inhibit girls’ likelihood of pursuing math or science interests.
  • By age six, girls are significantly less likely than boys to say that members of their own gender are “really, really smart.”
  • The gender gap in STEM education starts early. Gender gaps in mathematics grow in elementary school, with teachers reporting lower mathematics abilities for girls than boys in their classrooms. Studies have indicated that teachers in elementary schools tend to misperceive girls’ mathematics ability as weaker than it is.

Girl Statistics West Virginia Nationwide
GIRLS AGED 3-4 WHO ARE NOT ENROLLED IN PRE-SCHOOL: 64% 53%
4TH GRADE GIRLS WHO ARE NOT PROFICIENT IN READING: 67% (33% proficiency) 61% (39% proficiency. West Virginia’s proficiency has only improved by 1% since 2007.)
8TH GRADE GIRLS WHO ARE NOT PROFICIENT IN MATH: 79% (21% proficiency) 67% (33% proficiency. West Virginia’s proficiency in math has only improved 5% since 2007.)
PERCENTAGE OF WV HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED HARASSMENT AND BULLYING AT SCHOOL:
  • 28% - FEMALE
  • 16% - MALE
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ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF WV GIRLS HAS DECLINED:
  • 20% WV Girls ages 5-17 lived in poverty (2007)
  • 22% WV Girls ages 5-17 lived in poverty (2014)
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PERCENTAGE OF WV GIRLS WHO LIVE IN SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES
  • 26% 2007
  • 33% 2014


  • WV ranks 51st in the nation for percentage of women who hold a Bachelor's Degree, at only 22%.
  • BARRIERS TO CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION — INCLUDING GENDER STEREOTYPES, IMPLICIT BIAS, UNEQUAL TREATMENT AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT — REMAIN HIGH.
  • LESS THAN 20% OF BACHELOR’S DEGREES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE GO TO WOMEN, EVEN THOUGH FEMALE GRADUATES EARN 60% OF ALL BACHELOR’S DEGREES.

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*Citations available upon request.