Big (Wo)Man on Campus

The Wash Times reports that women now make up 57.2 percent of college attendees, their highest share ever.

In the 2003-04 school year, 595,425 men received bachelor's degrees, compared with 804,117 women, according to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. The department's fall 2004 numbers show that 57.2 percent of college enrollees were women -- the highest percentage ever.

The department estimates that by the time the 2013-14 school year rolls around, women receiving degrees will outnumber men by more than 300,000.

Women outpercentaged men starting in the 1980s. Why the reversal? Is it part of the war against boys and other living things we hear so much about? Nope, says at least one analyst:

"The rate at which men go to college has not fallen; women have just increased their numbers more rapidly," [education analyst Sara Mead] said. In a report titled "The Truth About Boys and Girls," she says, "The idea that women might actually surpass men in some areas ... seems hard for many people to swallow. Thus, boys are routinely characterized as 'falling behind' even as they improve in absolute terms."...

But the discussion of possible causes of and solutions for the broader college gap between men and women continues. One possible cause is that since the 1980s, some older women have gone back to college to get degrees, said [Jacqueline] King....

Ms. King's 2006 study found the college gap is still the widest between minority men and minority women -- leading some, like Ms. Mead, to argue that if the word "crisis" is to be used, it should be used for the plight of minority boys.

Whatever the causes--conservatives say it's because school at all levels doesn't cater to boys' inborn rambuctiousness (an explanation longer-lived than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and one that fails to explain boys' overrepresentation at college until the 1980s)--some schools are now wooing men the way they did women back when colleges starting going co-ed in full force.

More here.


    

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    As a recent college student I had to leave for finacial reasons, but while I was there I was able to observe the atmosphere in which my campus had a ratio of 7 women to 3 men. Yes there were some older women coming back to earn degrees, however the biggest reason to there being more women on campus. Daddy's Girl syndrome whereas most of the male population was either employeed part time or racking up obscene amounts of debt. The female population though yes many did have loans or work, they seemed to have more support from their parents.

  • ||

    Thus, boys are routinely characterized as 'falling behind' even as they improve in absolute terms."...

    I wonder if this analyst is consistent about improvement in absolute terms when the collective on the short end of the stick is female or dark-skinned.

    Oh, and wouldn't I love to be a guy in an environment that is almost 3:2 women.

  • Todd Frye||

    I kinda-sorta looked into going back to college about two years ago, and they sure didn't try to woo ME. And as a white, Southern, atheist male, you wouldn't believe how many grants and financial aid thingies I wasn't eligible for.

    (This pre-coffee, semi-coherent rant brought to you by a grant from the Charlie McCarthy foundation.)

  • ||

    I'm just not sure what the problem is here. Also, I am pretty that men seem to still be way overrepresented in programs that get them good jobs: accounting, business, medicine, law, engineering, and the sciences.

  • ||

    ...some schools are now wooing men the way they did women back when colleges starting going co-ed in full force.

    Actually, no, they're not - or perhaps you could provide an example? Examples for women are very easy to find, since no college or university is without at least one such program, perhaps dozens.

    The linked article says*:
    Among them, St. Petersburg College in Florida has a male recruiting program called "Men on the Way," loosely based on a pre-existing program for women."

    ...but no such program exists:
    http://www.spcollege.edu/

    *(yet another "not really" moment from the MSM).

  • ||

    Why were more men than women in college before the 1980s? Many reasons: sexism, Vietnam, a high value for a college degree, and probably some sexism.

    Since 1980, women are going to college to get a good job. There has also been an explosion in student loan programs, growth of universities, and changing social expectations. Of course women would want to catch up. And administrations and programs are all too glad to cater to their biggest audience.

    Why are fewer men than women in college today? Some reasons: sexism, Iraq (many in the military pursue degrees, but not as much right now), a lower value for a degree, and probably some sexism.

  • ||

    This kind of seems like a who cares moment. There are more women than men in college -- and?

  • ||

    Should have been "I am pretty sure that men are."

    This'll be important because it means that someone will go apeshit and moral panic will follow.

    Men will be mired in poverty! Women don't date guys with lower educations! Spinsterdom! Lesbianism! Fewer babies! WE'LL NEED MORE MEXICANS!

  • thoreau||

    As an adjunct aspiring for tenure track, I say that as long as their tuition checks clear and they do their homework I couldn't care less whether they have Y chromosomes.

  • ||

    Thus, boys are routinely characterized as 'falling behind' even as they improve in absolute terms."

    If boys are improving in absolute terms, but girls are improving faster, such that girls are now ahead of boys, it would be correct to characterize boys as "falling behind." Falling behind is inherently a comparative description, not an absolute one.

  • ||

    Pre-1980 colleges weren't training women for the workforce. They were just letting the girls get culture, and setting them up with rich men. Now that women have to work for their livings, college has become a necessary evil.

  • ||

    I don't think girls get more support from their parents, I think they get more loans, spend less money, and don't bitch about it all the time. Guys can't seem to shut up about money, ever.

  • JimmyDaGeek||

    Mr. F. Le Mur | March 27, 2007, 8:21am | #

    ...The linked article says*:
    Among them, St. Petersburg College in Florida has a male recruiting program called "Men on the Way," loosely based on a pre-existing program for women."


    ...but no such program exists:
    http://www.spcollege.edu/

    *(yet another "not really" moment from the MSM).


    From the St. Pete Times:

    "At St. Petersburg College, which has had a Women on the Way program for years, administrators have set up Men on the Way in a portable trailer on the Clearwater campus and provided $300,000 in funding."

  • ||

    thoreau--

    Your expectations are too high. Cleared tuition checks are as much as you can reasonably hope for.

  • ||

    Mr. F. Le Mur:

    Try here.

  • ||

    Wake me up when they start getting engineering degrees.

  • ||

    In my decade+ experience with higher education I've noticed that women are better students. Something about the requirements of a student and the general temperament of women. But whatever; more interesting are the consequences. Women, or so I'm told, prefer to pair with men who are their "education/career" equal or better, whereas men simply prefer women who are more attractive. From the male perspective the education shortfall would be akin to women gradually becoming (relatively) uglier. Also, a lot of people meet their spouse in college. Really, there isn't a better atmosphere for meeting men/women. Colleges and universities are going to need to worry about women passing them over for schools with more balanced attendance.

    Thoreau-

    I just got back from an interview for a tenure track assistant professor position. After having a break in the university's student union I started to have very grave doubts about the job. The students were loud and disrespectful. Most of the men were dressed like thugs, with their pants around their knees. Standing in line and at my table I overheard (wasn't hard, I had the feeling they were talking loud to be heard) women casually referred to as bitches. I thought I was going to get an offer, which I would have turned down. I just couldn't picture myself lecturing to those kids. But I didn't get an offer. I'll be going to one of the national labs instead. Which is fine. The salary is more than half again as much, and the resources and research prospects are much better.

  • ||

    Oh, and wouldn't I love to be a guy in an environment that is almost 3:2 women.

    It's not that great; just more opportunities for rejection. Of course, that's just my experience - results may vary.

    If you're a dork, you're a dork, no matter how many females are around.

  • ||

    "If boys are improving in absolute terms, but girls are improving faster, such that girls are now ahead of boys, it would be correct to characterize boys as "falling behind." Falling behind is inherently a comparative description, not an absolute one."

    No kidding. If a the sports page says that Dale Earnhardt Junior "fell behind" on the last lap of a NASCAR race, is anybody going to be confused about which direction he was driving in?

  • VM||

    joe - with those nascar types, you can never be sure! :)

  • ||

    In my decade+ experience with higher education I've noticed that women are better students. Something about the requirements of a student and the general temperament of women.

    This is precisely the point of the "boys are being discriminated against" folks - that our educational institutions have been culturally feminized so that your typically male traits are now handicaps to success.

  • huh||

    I can't believe that this post approving quotes Sara Mead.

    I'm sure she's a nice person who's loved by her family, friends, former teachers, and current pets, but when it comes to education stuff, Mead doesn't know what she's talking about.

  • ||

    This is precisely the point of the "boys are being discriminated against" folks - that our educational institutions have been culturally feminized so that your typically male traits are now handicaps to success.

    Well, I don't know how you change the institution to cater to - too hungover to come to class, again.

  • Dan T.||

    So basically there are two possibilities:

    1) When given a level playing field, women do better as students

    2) The fact that women do better as students indicates the playing field is now tilted in their direction.

    How is it possible to really tell for sure which is correct? I dunno.

  • VM||

    "so that your typically male traits are now handicaps to success."

    Such handicaps can be seen hier

    (Kudos to Dhex for smashing their silly, pathetic "thoughts")

  • ||

    FFF,

    I am pretty that men seem to still be way overrepresented in programs that get them good jobs: accounting, business, medicine, law, engineering, and the sciences.

    just an anecdote - but at my law school, females comprise the majority of students. so perhaps this may be changing.

  • wsdave||

    We already have Title IX, which forces colleges to spend the same on men's and women's sports; it looks like it might be time for Title Men, which would take some Title IX money and put it back into men's sports scholarships.

    Also, it may be time for a Men's Studies program. We have one at my local community college: Women's Studies teaches...whatever it teaches, and Men's Studies teaches Auto Repair and Welding (at least it seems like that, since there are never any women in those classes).

  • ||

    men seem to still be way overrepresented in programs that get them good jobs: accounting, business, medicine, law, engineering, and the sciences.

    Women are half of last year's first year medical students. As for the hard sciences; as the stigma goes I think wee will see a glut of women similar to that in the life sciences.

  • ||

    * By 2001, females earned 37 percent of Science and Engineering (S & E) and 57 percent of non S & E doctoral degrees
    * In 2001, women received more doctoral degrees than men in Psychology (66.9%); Linguistics (59.4%); Area and Ethnic Studies (58.5%); Sociology (58.4%);
    * The fields that awarded the lowest number of doctoral degrees to women in 2001 were mechanical engineering (9.5%); electrical engineering (12.9%); physics (13%); aerospace engineering (13.8%) and civil engineering (18.7%)


    And more here.

  • dhex||

    "This is precisely the point of the "boys are being discriminated against" folks - that our educational institutions have been culturally feminized so that your typically male traits are now handicaps to success."

    yeah, i can't even begin to buy this shit.

    then again, my MA program is nearly 90% female...and i have developed a taste for musicals...

    shit!


    in all seriousness:

    at this point i'm willing to chalk it up to the addiction to the cult of victimhood of some american conservatives. apparently they want to be leftists so badly they're willing to ape the language and the attitude that the victim has the highest moral value in any discussion. why? i have no fucking idea.

    maybe it's a great excuse for any kind of lack of parity, though other talk of a lack of parity tends to aggravate many folk on that side of the aisle, at least when its applied to minorities or women; curiouser and curiouser...

    it's almost as if real or imagined coalitions take precedence over values.

  • Liberty4All||

    So does this mean that the Association for Univeristy Women can close up shop and go away? I notice how the system works when the bean counters preferred gropup is in the majority. It's discriminatuion where there isn't enough of the preferred group represented. Ask Jesse Jackson about the NBA. As a libertarian my instinct is so what, more women than men on campus. But then again I'd say so what if the numbers were reversed. I don't think the feminized, left wing public education establishment will do anything about these numbers and the alleged imbalance. But it does serve as a great stat to stick in the face of moronic annoying gender feminists.

  • ||

    "But it does serve as a great stat to stick in the face of moronic annoying gender feminists."

    I guess if that's important to you.

  • Liberty4All||

    "I guess if that's important to you."

    Not really important, just a pleasant pastime every now & then. :-)

    The point is all this bean counting gets absurd. We have set up a university system where to the victim goes the spoils so everyone wants to be a victim. It's ridiculous and counter productive. When the aggrieved group attains success, they aren't sure what to do, since being a victim was an essential reason for the group to exist. For every action there is a reaction so now I guess men are beginning to organize and the cycle will continue. Men's studies is as absurd as feminist studies. Every group needs a month, holiday & academic department to succeed and it's laughable.

    If I had my way I'd live in as libertarian a country, state, community as possible. One in which the creativity of people would be unleashed without big brother prodding it along in an 'acceptable' direction. Would this be utopia? No way because utopia is an impossiblity. However the chance at self-determination, with all the risks involved, is worth it.

  • Nick Gillespie||

    Dear Huh,

    Thanks for the links, especially the one to Andrew Coulson's discussion of how school vouchers have expanded the education supply in various places.

    Is there any reason to believe that Mead is wrong regarding her comments here? That is, has the percentage of men going on to college fallen in recent years?

    This is not quite the same figure, but gov't stats show that about 28 percent of men ages 25 or older had BA's. That's up from from 14 percent in 1970. The corresponding figure for women is 26 percent, up from 8 percent in 1970. Which suggests that men are still doing well--and that women are doing better, though not at the expense of men, which is Mead's point here.

    More stats here

  • ||

    The reason chicks began outnumbering dudes on campus around 1985 is that I graduated from college in 1983. This is known as the "Stevo Can't Catch a Break" Effect.

  • dhex||

    fwiw, i don't think women's studies programs are inherently more or less absurd than studying any other segment of the population, even if some of the people in these programs make absurd arguments.

  • ||

    There are more women than men in college -- and?


    57.2%! Come on. My school was only 51% female in the 90s.

    I've clearly been robbed.

  • ||

    The problem many people have with this, including myself, is the hypocrisy of it. If there are more men than women in college, it's sexist, if there are more women than men, it isn't sexist it's because women are better students ("The idea that women might actually surpass men in some areas ... seems hard for many people to swallow"). Of course, better financial aid options for girls couldn't have anything to do with why there are more of them in college.

  • Al||

    "Of course, better financial aid options for girls couldn't have anything to do with why there are more of them in college."

    Well, that could. But it doesn't seem to have helped tremendously in science or engineering.

    A trend I have noticed is that jobs that are traditionally women's jobs - like teaching and social work - require a lot more college than they used to.

  • ||

    I have to wonder how many men applied to college and were rejected vs. women?'

    Typically, with no college education, there are many jobs men still go into. Machining, manufacturing, Construction, auto repair (though lots of specialized training schools that might not be counted), handyman, plumbing, etc. Most of these tend to be manual labor jobs where apprenticeships are still in vogue and thus no formal education. Now, how many women are trying for these types of jobs vs. the more traditional route of a liberal arts degree? I don't think these statistics are anything more than demonstrating that women tend to like the educational and social value of college more than men do and thus more often go to college rather than start an apprenticeship right out of high school. So what? I don't know one auto mechanic, machinist or plant operator that curses women for preventing him from getting a college education. This argument about equal numbers of men and women in college is a non starter.

    Of course I went to an engineering school with a ratio of 2:1 men, so maybe I'm just pissed that more women didn't want to become engineers....

  • ||

    This does mean we can end affirmative action for women. Unless you think women should be compensated because, unlike men, they descend from generations of women who where discriminated against.

  • ||

    This does mean we can end affirmative action for women.

    how many schools even have such a thing?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement