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The scam of sexism & racism explains the low payoff for Master's degrees

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There has been talk lately regarding the utility of the Master's degree, some say it is an outright scam. Has there been a feminist or critical race theory lens on it? Of course not.

Master’s degrees are disproportionally women and disproportionately Black women.

“Women earned 58.6 percent of all master’s degrees in 2019 (up from 58.3 percent in 2018 and 57.3 percent in 2017).”

AEI

  • 68 percent of Education Master’s degrees graduates are women.
  • 73 percent of all MPA degrees graduates are women.
  • 71 percent of Health and Science Master’s graduates are women.

The scam of the Master’s degree isn’t the degree itself. The sexism and the lack of career ladder opportunities that women face send them on a hunt for more and more credentials to make up for structural sexism and racism. 

 “Black college graduates are more likely than those from other racial or ethnic groups to go to graduate school, but they disproportionately enroll in master’s programs (relative to professional and doctoral programs) and at for-profit institutions (Baum and Steele 2017).”

 Urban dot org

If women were given the same access as white men to earn money with Bachelor’s degrees, the most heinous of these programs would not exist. Ads for Master’s degrees often feature women. They know EXACTLY what they are doing. Education and labor found a market of underpaid and ambitious people to market to, so they can kick them down the stairs again.

The Master’s degree’s biggest evil is it uses the lie of meritocracy to manipulate women into thinking that the reason they aren’t getting promoted and paid enough money to live is solely because they don’t have the correct credential. 

The Master’s degree’s biggest evil is it uses the lie of meritocracy to manipulate women into thinking that the reason they aren’t getting promoted and paid enough money to live is solely because they don’t have the correct credential. 

White men with Bachelor’s degrees make more money than white women with a Master’s degree, and they make more money (of course) than Black women with a Master’s degree, DESPITE the fact that Black women have the highest labor participation rate in comparison to all women.

Also, because it is disproportionately women and increasingly historically excluded ethnic groups who have these degrees, then the pay is going to be lower than if white men were getting them. 

It isn’t the degree that is a waste. It is that women and historically excluded racial groups are getting them and labor laws that protect against bias in labor are abysmal.

Nonsense has never prevented white men from making money.

“Students enrolled in Master’s programs have also become more diverse. From 1996 to 2016, the portion of Hispanic and black students in these programs has risen from 14 percent to 12 percent.”

 Higher Ed Dive

Master’s degree is not inherently worthless. The real issue with the Master’s degree is who gets them. White women and Black women, and all women get paid less owing to structural racism and sexism.

Any field that becomes women or a historically excluded ethnic group dominated drops in prestige and pay.

The U.S. should cancel student loans and subsidize higher education at the rates it did when it was a mostly white-only benefit. The ERA should be passed, and stronger laws against racial discrimination in labor should be enacted and enforced.

The scam is sexism. 
The scam is racism.


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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