Native American Women Are Fighting For A Better Future By Getting More College Degrees And Higher Paying Jobs Than Ever Before
Against tough odds, Native American women are fighting for a better future for themselves and their tribes. One in four American Indians and Alaskan Natives live in poverty, according to the Pew Research Center, but American Indian/Alaska Native women are going to college, getting better paying jobs, and owning businesses at higher rates than ever before. Their increasing success is not only improving their lives, but also showing younger Native Americans that going to university and having a high-paying career is possible, as their example is already trickling down to the next generation.
The number of American Indian/Alaska Native women enrolled in colleges and universities nationwide increased nearly 200 percent between 1976 and 2006, from 37,600 to 111,000 women, and the number earning masters, doctoral, and professional degrees increased by 400 percent. Improved transportation to and from school, as well as more educational programs and mentorships offered to students early on, has helped make college more attainable for Native girls. Susan Masten, founder and co-president of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, tells Bustle: "Talking about Indian country and living on the reservation, there’s just so much they have to overcome just to get to school." Indian reservations are generally in very rural areas, far from local colleges and public transportation. For Masten's tribe, the Yurok in Klamath, California, having some small community colleges move closer to the reservations and the tribe offering cheap transportation to the schools has made it much easier for women to pursue a degree.