Do not study one more year to enter the university. Do not go to a Women’s University. Do not go to a university which considers only three subjects on the college SAT (Scholastic Ability Test), not four. Do you know what these mean? They are the advice given by the Korean Council for University Education to graduating high school students in 2011.1 At this point, we need to address one question. Why do high school students and some public educators not recommend women’s university? And, what do we think about this phenomenon? Is it really okay if we stand idly by?
Women’s College or Coeducational College
The phenomenon of avoiding women’s universities has continued since long before. It is proven by University Evaluations which JEDI (Joongang Educational Development Institute) has executed since 1996. According to their research, Ewha Womans University, which was ranked highest in all women’s universities in Korea, reached number nine in 2005. However, in 2012, Ewha could not rank on the ranking of ten. Women’s universities have been out-ranked by coeducational. And this phenomenon is not only relevant to high school students, but also corresponded to a social image of women’s university. Eo Jinhee, who is a Chungnam University student, said, “I think women’s university has a fastidious image. Because in women’s university, all the members are women, so there might be a lot of competition. And if I go back to the past where I can choose my university, I would choose a coeducational university again. I think coeducation is better than women-only education.” But beyond that, also for women’s university students, this phenomenon exists. Women’suniversity graduates face a great deal of pressure finding employment. Choi, a Sookmyung Women’s University’s student, said, “For women University’s students, the problem of getting a job is a matter of course because in our society it still matters which university you graduated from and the ties you have with other alumni. But in case of women’s university, the connection with students and alumnae is less than with coeducational universities.” In conclusion, all these problems were gathered, and it was connected with fundamental problems of women’s universities’.
Disappearance of Women’s Universities
In fact, a few women’s universities declared to change their name to coeducational universities due to these problems. In the mid-1990s, Sangmyung Women’s University eliminated ‘Women’ in its name and became coeducational. Also, in Sungshin Women’s University, there was a movement to erase ‘Women’ in its name, but it remained.2 These changes of women’s universities are a serious problem in our society. If these changes continue, existing women’s universities could be damaged in their identity and lose their competitiveness. Then women’s universities will disappear in the future. As a result, it will affect our students who study at women’s universities. Let’s take an example. Yoon Jinsook, the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is evaluated by the public by the fact that she graduated from Busan Women’s University, as she was the only minister who attended a women’s university. However, Busan Women’s University changed their name to Silla University and became coeducational in 1997. This means women’s universities graduates can be a person of high rank and office in men focused society, but because of her university erase women,’ it couldn’t preserve its women’s university identity.3
How to Unravel these Misunderstandings
One of the reasons about it is that the meaning which women’s universities have been defunct. At first, women’s universities were established to do higher education for women, who were vulnerable members before. However, as time passes, the barrier of sexual inequality has broken, making the meaning of women’s universities’ existence fade. Some school officials said, "As women’s social position has advanced, the advantages of women’s universities were clouded paradoxically.”4 The problem of employment is also one reason for it. According to
the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the women’s employment rate (55.1%) was lower than men’s (62.2%) by 7% in 2011.5 Still worse, the existing employment atmosphere is focused on men, so if an employer has a choice between equal women, one who graduated from a coeducational university and the other from a women’s university, he will choose a woman attending a coeducational university because she experienced it before.6 Then, how can we resolve these misunderstandings about women’s university? For them, women universities’ efforts are needed. At first, they have to make differentiated images with other universities and maximize their existing merits, like ROTC in women’s universities. Yang Jungho, Duksung Women’s University’s Development Policy Minister, said, “Changing to a coeducational university is like giving up the merits of a women’s university. Women’s universities have to maximize their advantages and progress their strategies of specialization following chronological changes.” And also he stressed that we need to cooperate with other women’s universities, not compete.7 Second, they should make employment courses for students to get a job easily. In Japan, unlike Korea, the popularity of women’s universities is higher. It is because university graduates couldn’t find jobs before, and women’s universities coached with detailed employment courses for them with one-on-one instruction. For example, Showa Women’s University in Japan made great effects on employment of graduates with its Social Advice Network where students interact with women who succeeded in society.8 However, the most important thing is on us. We are women’s university students and we all know what is good in women’s university. To make our university strong, above all things, our parts are needed.
1 Hwang Seokyeon, “What is the Reason of Increasing Women University’s Application?,” Asia Economics, November 11, 2010
2 Yoo Seokjae, “The Crisis of Women’s University, the Number of them was Decreased 300 to 58,” The Chosun Ilbo, July 30, 2010
3 Kim Bongkoo, Lee Hana, “Is it Correct that Ewha is a Prestigious Univ.? Then, how about Sookmyung?,” The Korea Economic Daily, February 27, 2013
* Alma mater: Your alma mater is the school or university which you went to.
4 Same as footnote 3
5 Choi Junggeun, “Employment Rate of University, 58.6%,” KBS NEWS, August 24, 2011
6 Park Yoonsoo, “Ewha’s Women Senior Officer Course,” Womens Newspaper, August 8, 2008
7 Same as footnote 3
8 Lee Jongrak, “Japan Women’s Univ. Employment Rate is Higher,” The Seoul Shinmun, January 3, 2012