13.11.09

GONNA GO TO COLLEGE 'CAUSE IT'S TWO TO ONE. Gonna go to college, gonna have some fun. (Apologies to Jan and Dean.) The economist in me always wondered about the stability of that equilibrium. University administrators do too, if in a different way.
Too many boys arrive at their senior year of high school lacking both the skills and aspirations that would get them into, and through, college. At a typical state university, a gender gap of 10 percentage points in the freshman class grows by five points by graduation day, as more men than women drop out.

All this explains why colleges have been putting a thumb on the scale to favor men in admissions. There just aren't enough highly qualified men to go around. Determining that colleges practice discrimination doesn't take much detective work. Higher acceptance rates for men show that colleges dig deeper into their applicant pool to find them. The final proof: Freshman class profiles reveal that the women, with their far higher high-school grade point averages, are more academically qualified than the men. Interviews with admissions officers reveal that the girls' essays sparkle compared to the boys', and girls far outshine boys in extracurricular activities as well.

The Commission on Civil Rights cited an example written about in U.S. News & World Report in 2007: Virginia's University of Richmond was maintaining its rough gender parity in men and women only by accepting women at a rate 13 percentage points lower than the men.

It would be patriotic to report that this discrimination against women is carried out in the national economic interest of boosting graduates in key math and science fields. But, in truth, it's really a social consideration. Colleges simply want to avoid approaching the dreaded 60-40 female-male ratio. At that point, men start to take advantage of their scarcity and make social life miserable for the women by becoming "players" on the dating scene.
And all you gotta do is just wink your eye? All those resources devoted to Take Back the Night and assorted consciousness-raising are unproductive? There's no dynamic by which the women respond to the players with more selective strategies of their own?

At Phi Beta Cons, George Leef considers the broader implications.
Still, this trend tells us something. As Christina Hoff Sommers observed in her book The War Against Boys, our K-12 system is becoming increasingly feminized with the notions that competition is bad and that boys need to be socialized to act more like girls. That may well be the reason why fewer boys pay attention and grasp the educational basics. So I don't think we need to worry about the fact that there's an imbalance between men and women in college; the thing to worry about is that K-12 is failing to provide much of an education for more boys than girls.
Strike "for more boys than girls." That feminization hasn't had much effect in engineering, lab sciences, and math, those better application essays notwithstanding. (How can K-12 simultaneously be downplaying competition and encouraging the girls to write better essays?)

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