Date of Graduation
Many of the known cultural, familial, historical and geographical deterrents to education exist within the rural female population from six counties in southern West Virginia. Through feminist survey research, this qualitative study is an analysis of the common themes that arise in the lives of rural women who have earned a college degree, using women's narratives to provide insights into existing research. Based on a 42 percent return on a 14 page survey, 110 rural college educated women responded to 41 open-ended and forced-choice questions about parental demographics, childhood and public school experiences, hometown descriptors and college attendance. The women ranged in age from 25 to 70 years and graduated from college between 1970 and 1987. All women have a baccalaureate degree, 42.7 percent have a master's degree and 2.7 percent have a first professional or doctorate degree. Over three-fourths of the women have undergraduate degrees in education. Respondents described themselves as responsible, cooperative, caring and smart. Over half of the respondents were the first in their family to graduate from college. Approximately 38 percent of the fathers and 34 percent of the mothers did not graduate from high school, but fathers had more college education than mothers, 25 and 20 percent respectively. Parental expectations and support were cited as the major incentive in the educational achievements of their daughters. Other catalysts cited included a strong sense of self-determination, peer relationships and religion. Finances were the greatest barrier to an education in addition to academic preparation, career counseling and social insecurity. With a strong backbone of family support and greater needs in academic and career counseling preparation, this research addresses educational issues for rural schools. With over three-quarters of the respondents' degrees in education, teacher educators have a particularly important responsibility to provide a curriculum that values and includes women and rurality. Career awareness initiatives and technologies must be more accessible to counselors and rural communities. Academic and social insecurity can be positively challenged by not only more equitable inclusion of women in the curriculum and pedagogical practices, but also through providing a wider range of experiences and educational opportunities for rural students within a challenging yet responsive environment.
Day-Perroots, Sue Diane, "Rural female college graduates: Barriers and catalysts to a college education." (1991). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8725.