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Do parents spend more on education for their sons or daughters?

(Katherine Mayo / Daily Collegian)

As college tuition prices continue to climb each year, many parents look for ways to send their children to school for the lowest price possible. In some cases, parents are willing to spend more on big name schools. Parents may also spend more in an unexpected area: gender. In an increasingly popular trend, parents are spending more on their son’s education than their daughter’s. Despite the fact that women are more likely than men to have a college degree in the United States, parents choose to spend more on their sons than their daughters when it comes to education. The reasons for this may not be as simple and clear cut as obvious sexism—but that’s part of the problem.

In my family, my brother went to an all-boys private school while I went through our public school system. I never wished that I could have gone to private school. Looking back, I do question my parent’s willingness to spend more on his education than mine. I was the better student, while my brother got to attend a school that had an air of wealth and elitism. I question the prominence of all-boy schools in our area and the lack of all-girl schools. Why is this facet of gender expression becoming increasingly more prevalent?

My friend Lexi Memmolo, a freshman, also noticed this trend in her family. When we had a conversation about our individual situations, Lexi said, “My family actually moved states in order to accommodate my brother’s high school education. On top of that, my parents encouraged my brother to go to a more expensive school.” As the only son amongst three daughters, she mentioned how her parents gave special attention to her brother, especially on where he went to college. “They wanted him to go to a big name school, even if he couldn’t play sports there. They were willing to pay more money for him to go to a school with a good repertoire.”

Altogether, parents favoring their son’s education over their daughter’s is nothing new in American households as “there are some antiquated viewpoints on gender out there,” claims Roger Young, a financial planner with the company, T. Rowe, who conducted the study on how saving for education varies by gender.

The research done on this trend in college spending has backed the theory that parents favor their sons over their daughters when it comes to education. While 50 percent of parents of only boys have money saved for their sons’ educations, only 39 percent of parents of only girls have money saved for their daughters’ education. In addition to this, 60 percent of parents with all boys said that they would send their sons to a less expensive school to avoid loans, while 72 percent of parents with all daughters said they would do the same. These numbers show that parents’ financial interests lay in their sons’ education over their daughters’.

While the study was done with families with just one gender offspring or the other, it still shows that parents think their sons will naturally be more successful and need to be supported financially. It may just simply be that parents of sons have more desire to see their sons succeed than they do their daughters. Parents may not even recognize that they have more financial interest in their sons’ education. Either way, it is not right nor fair for parents to see more potential in one of their children simply because of their gender. Girls are just as smart and driven as boys, yet are underappreciated and overshadowed by their male siblings.

Sophia Corsetti is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at scorsetti@umass.edu.

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