NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 6, 2005

Colleges across the United States are establishing programs in Women's Studies and an analysis of five of those universities -- East Carolina, N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Greensboro -- revealed that interest in the programs is weak and declining. Overall, the programs fail to achieve academically worthwhile objectives while imposing a cost burden upon university budgets, says Melana Zyla Vickers (Pope Center for Higher Education Policy).

The study tested three areas: student interest, course material, and funding.

Do students want women's studies programs?

  • In 2003, UNC-Chapel Hill had 15,089 undergraduates and only four graduated with a major in Women's Studies; meanwhile, UNC-Greensboro had 12 out of 10,751 undergraduates interested in the same major.
  • East Carolina had one graduate, while UNC-Charlotte, which only offers a minor in this area of study, showed an upswing in enrollment, with 17 undergrads.
  • N.C. State had only nine students enrolled in the Introduction to Women's Studies course out off 22,971 students.

Do the programs' faculty members teach meritorious, rigorous academic material, as measured by mainstream academic standards?

  • An examination of course syllabi suggests that the material is better described as polemical, doctrinaire and highly selective rather than meritorious and rigorous, says Vickers.
  • She adds that all five of the programs give exclusive billing to Marxist and proto-Marxist theories; not one programs devotes a single course to a dissenting -- conservative, free-market libertarian or other -- view of women.

Are the programs dependent on taxpayer money? The answer: yes.

  • Programs at UNC-Charlotte and N.C. State are wholly funded by taxpayer money, while UNC-Greensboro'Women's Studies received about $92,000 in state funds and $5,000 from private funds; that's 94 percent taxpayer funding.
  • Additionally, UNC-Chapel Hill's Women's Studies received $418,190 in state-government dollars in 2004, versus $83,402 in gift/trust funds; that's 83 percent taxpayer funding.

Source: Melana Zyla Vickers, "An Empty Room of One's Own: A Critical Look at the Women's Studies Programs of North Carolina's Publicly Funded Universities," Pope Center for Higher Education Policy: Inquiry Papers No. 21, March 30, 2005.

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