September 27, 2005

Correcting the gender imbalance problem.

Yesterday, I linked to Richard Posner's discussion about the perceived problem of women in professional schools who say they plan to stay home full-time when their children are born. Though he did not suggest that schools should give preferences to men, some of what he said about women failing to fulfill expectations seemed to me as though it would encourage others to want to discriminate. In an update to my post, I worried about what is much more likely to cause schools to lead to affirmative action for males: the simple gender imbalance that has resulted from fewer males choosing to pursue higher education.

I detest the idea of giving preference to men to correct the imbalance, so I was glad to see this from Glenn Reynolds, saying that schools ought to look at themselves and ask: What are we doing to make men feel that they don't belong here?
There seems little doubt that universities have become less male-friendly in recent decades, to the point of being downright unfriendly in many cases. The kind of statements that are routinely made about males and masculinity in classrooms and hallways would get professors fired if they were made about blacks, gays, or many other groups.
It's assumed that males can take it, and that it's not the same thing when you're knocking the traditionally advantaged group. But whether you think that's true or not, if the gender imbalance is the school's own problem, it's bad strategy. So you could have a lot of sensitivity training and open men's centers on campus and so on. That will be extremely hard to do well. We're used to reaching out to those we've seen as disadvantaged. It will seem awkward and insincere to reach out to males in the same way. But at the very least, we can commit ourselves to ending the hostility to males, which has always been inappropriate anyway.

Reynolds entertains the notion that the real problem might be that too many women pursue higher education. Maybe too many people go to college, but more men are able to opt out because they can find better jobs without college than women can. Arguably, both males and females are behaving rationally, under the circumstances. Some of these circumstances are caused by discrimination against women in the traditional workplace. Credentialing is more important for us. Some of it is the physical difference between women and men, on the average, which makes it harder for us to get or want jobs requiring physical strength. But I'm sure some of it has to do with different preferences: more women are interested in studying and in pursuing the kind of work -- like law -- that in many ways resembles studying.

If that is so, why not let things take their natural course? Would it be a problem if, some day, 80% of law students were women? It would certainly be a social problem at the schools for many students, and the schools would suffer if students chose to go elsewhere to avoid skewing. Maybe a real tipping point would be reached if the ratio got as far off as 60/40. There's also the social problem outside of schools, as highly educated women have difficulty finding suitable partners.

We seem to be headed inexorably into affirmative action for men, which will go on with no end in sight.

UPDATE: Cathy Young, who's participating in the comments here, has a very informative post.


Rachel said...

I disagree with what you are saying. I think that it depends on what schools you are talking about. I attend Georgian College in Barrie Ontario, and I think that it is over populated with the male species. The reason that I think that is, is because the majority of the programs that are offered are directed towards male jobs. For instance we have a huge section of Automotives students, business students, travel and tourism students, and computer studies. In these programs if you glance into their classes they are mostly men. So I have to disagree with you on the subject. Please correct me if I am wrong

Rachel said...

Sorry, I also wanted to meantion that I am studying Office Administration Legal.

Bruce Hayden said...

Glenn made a lot of good points. Indeed, I think that it is a very valid criticism that despite there being a significantly greater number of women on campus, there are female studies, etc., but almost never male studies. We are the only group really that doesn't have this sort of thing, and (IMHO) are unlikely to get it in the future.

My pet peeve here is in law school, where at lot of schools have women's programs and almost never a men's program. Yet, I would argue that we need it more than women do, esp. in domestic relations. My view is that the family law courts in this country are heavily biased towards women, at the detriment of men, and that we need men's studies in law schools instead of more women's studies as a result.

Bruce Hayden said...


I am surprised that "travel and tourism" is male dominated. My experience has been quite the opposite. The others, of course, make sense.

Slocum said...

I suspect the main problem is not in colleges but in the K-12 education that prepares students for college. My sense is that K-12 schools are considerably less male-friendly for my kids generation than for mine. There are the repeated 'take your daughter to work', 'girls can be anything they want' messages, the fact that anti-male attitudes are 'respectable' and changes in emphasis that seem to favor female students. To a far greater extent, it seems that grading depends on organization and punctuality. Grades are docked 1 or 2 percent for every absence. Homework is weighed much heavier than before (and lateness is penalized). And when it comes time to college admissions, standardized test scores (on which boys and girls score almost equally) have been de-emphasized in favor of grades (which favors girls).

And the idea that males are choosing other well-paying professions as an alternative to college in numbers that would account for the enormous bachelor-degree discrepancy is pretty hard to accept -- does anybody really believe that of every 135 males who might have gone to college, 35 of them are in the trades?

This explanation falls apart, especially, when you look at black males. It is perfectly clear there that all the black males missing from college are not going into other well-paying professions.

Richard Dolan said...

"We seem to be headed inexorably into affirmative action for men, which will go on with no end in sight." Well, yes, it seems we are.

And the reason has nothing to do specifically with the case outlined by Posner, and everything to do with the logic of "affirmative action." What I find odd about your reaction to Posner is that you are so wedded (oops!) to the logic of affirmative action -- men as the "traditionally favored group," etc. -- but are uncomfortable with where that logic leads.

If the point of a college admissions program is to create a freshman class that "looks like America," there is no avoiding the idea that, once any identifiable group fails to achieve its alloted percentage of seats, "affirmative action" steps in to "right" the statistical "wrong." It's all about group rights, and so individual accomplishments, etc., necessarily are forced to take a back seat.

Yes, I realize that smart lawyers come up with lots of reasons why this or that particular group is not entitled to the benefits of affirmative action's iron logic. And the problem with all of those distinctions is that they look and sound like the weak and fundamentally arbitrary exercise in rank victimology that they obviously are.

In the Michigan cases, O'Connor wrote that affirmative action of this sort has a time limit of 25 years. Where that came from is anyone's guess. But your post, and the obvious discomfort that you feel about the conclusions that one could draw from Posner's analysis, might be a good reason to rethink whether the whole "affirmative action" notion is such a great idea.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree with Slocum as to the biases of K-12 these days against males. One scandal in my mind is the massive over-diagnosing of over active boys as ADHD, etc., and the resulting drugging them to the level necessary for them to act like girls.

Sure, some of these boys may have a problem. But for most of them, whatever problem with hyper activity, etc. that they might have in the younger years disappears as they enter high school. Rather, they are just being boys.

I think that you can seriously question the rationale of weighting homework so much more heavily today. After all, for the most part, getting your homework done has little to do with actually mastering the material, and a lot to do with how well you jump through arbitrary hoops by the teachers.

I say this a male who didn't much like homework, esp. when it was busy work. When I could get the high grade on a science or math test, why should I do this mindless work too? So, too often, like a lot of guys that age, I didn't.

leeontheroad said...


Men aren't a separate species, and using that terminology is off-putting.

Training colleges such as you describe may well attract a skewed applicant, based on their program offerings.

Aggregate data, however, provide an overall view. I suspect information about the Ontario University system woudl look different than what you're seeing, and data that included all post-secondary programs might be yet another story.

Coco said...

"There seems little doubt that universities have become less male-friendly in recent decades, to the point of being downright unfriendly in many cases."

Actually, I have a lot of doubt about this conclusion. The only examples cited to "prove" this idea - whether they are true or not - seem to be totally disconnected from the conclusion. Is there any evidence - at all - supporting the idea that high school seniors are not attending college (or, more precisely, not obtaining bachelor degrees) because schools have sexual harassment policies? Or because they have women studies programs? Very weak.

But even if true, the larger point he is trying to make by discussing the "anti-male" attitudes of colleges is even more dubious.

The problem he cites is that 135 women are receving college DEGREES for every 100 men. Thus, the problem, if there is one, should be focused on why men are not matriculating as well as girls. A legitimate question. I seriously doubt, however, that it has anything to do with the existence of womens' studies programs or sexual harassment regulations or any other "anti-male" zeitgeist.

Finally, his discussion of Larry Sumners and his statements about genetic differences between girls and boys has no discernable relevance to the general problem stated. What genetic differences does he think explains why girls graduate from college more than boys?

This is a very high noise-to-signal article (I hate using that phrase....sorry).

Slocum said...

Is there any evidence - at all - supporting the idea that high school seniors are not attending college (or, more precisely, not obtaining bachelor degrees) because schools have sexual harassment policies? Or because they have women studies programs? Very weak.

The university in town here has a 'continuing education for women' program designed to encourage and assist older, non-traditional female students. Is this program completely useless, do you think, in that it has no effect on attracting these students or helping them finish degrees?

And, of course, there is no 'continuing education for men' center -- but you already knew that without my having to say so.

Coco said...

Do you really think that the existence of a progam to "encourage and assist older, non-traditional female students" is what Glenn Reynolds was talking about? Really? He's talking about a purported national crisis, and I doubt that a progam aimed at getting older women (probably many of them who have finished staying home with children) intersted in taking some college classes, is contributing in any real way to his identified crisis.

In any event, this just furthers my point - antecdotal examples of programs or policies don't prove or really even support his grand hypothesis. For example, is it possible that no such program exists for older, non-traditional men because there is no need or demand for such a program?

leeontheroad said...

Can we use some facts, please?

In 2002, in the nation overall, 56.6% of high school graduates sought post-secondary education, little different from 2000.

In 2003, the US average six-year baccalaureate completion rate was just over 54%, a slight increase since 2000. (The ’97 Fall cohort was 1,181,296; and 629,5798 individuals had graduated in ‘03.)

Still, as to the question of men in higher ed, as with most things having to do with education and statistics, one needs to look to what Tom Mortensen is saying. He agrees there’s a male educational crisis, and he looks to some of the things Bruce mentions—— plus male suicide and incarceration rates. For higher ed admissions, of course, at issue is who’s in the pool. Mortensen notes:

“Between 1967 and 2000 the proportion of 18 to 24 women high school graduates that were enrolled in college increased from 25.1 to 45.6 percent, and increase of 20.5 percentage points. For men the proportion of 18 to 24 year old high school graduates that were enrolled in college decreased from 44.7 to 40.9 percent, a decrease of 3.8 percentage points. (Census Bureau)”

I do not see data to suggest that the presence of women’s programs is keeping men from completing a baccalaureate. Please, no more devouring mother bullshit. It’s not women’s fault if men enroll and then don’t finish: we aren’t enough of the faculty or administration to have such effect.

But there is an overall national problem of recruiting and retaining men in institutions of higher education; and I won’t get more data head about the different ways those play out in subpopulations (Just to note that it’s not the same situation for the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering).

I am, overall, I will say, amused to note that folks who oppose affirmative action measures are all for them when they apply to men. I am, too, but I’m not generally opposed to them in any case.

Henry said...

Eventually the 135 to 100 ratio of women to men college graduates will mean that more women will be the primary income earner among married couples. This will solve the women quitting their professional jobs problem that started this whole discussion.

The men can stay home and fix the plumbing and stuff, the way evolution intended.

Gauss said...

As a male in currently in upper-education, I don't find this gender imbalance particularly troubling. It has some advantages.

I'm not sure any of the proposed solutions are viable. "Male Studies"? How many men would actually study this? Men's support groups? Outside of religious settings, this seems highly unlikely. Affirmative action might work, but, honestly, how much political support would this have? Will our valient defenders of egalitarianism rush to the defense The cognitive dissonance would turn their brains to quivering jelly.

No. The creation of this gender imbalance (assuming it exists) required comprehensive social change, decades of social engineering. Their architects should be allowed to enjoy their success, and reap the full bounty of their labor.

Richard Fagin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Richard Fagin said...

"Credentialing is more important for us. Some of it is the physical difference between women and men, on the average, which makes it harder for us to get or want jobs requiring physical strength." That statement seems self evident, and it may well be part of the explanation for the relatively high enrollment of women in U.S. colleges. The problem is, such statement is an assault on the beliefs of many college faculty. Ask Larry Summers. Such statement is also an affront to those in the "diversity industry", who categorically deny that there are any sex-based differences. One need only to review police data to find that female officers are more likely to use deadly force, if for no other reason than they (in the aggregate - not individually) lack the strength and size to make suspects less likely to assault officers. What should be apparent from college enrollment data is that women do not appear to need any special treatment in order to be accepted into and to succeed at many colleges. Solutions proposed to the declining number of men in colleges seem to be worse than the problem itself, other than facially neutral admissions and curriculum policies.

What we need to be much more concerned about than the relative dearth of men in college is that China and India are graduating 20 to 50 times the number of scientists and engineers than are U.S. colleges. Women are a small minority even of the paltry number of U.S. science and engineeering graduates. That seems to be a collossal misallocation of brainpower. Or was Larry Summers right?

Eddie said...

I think it's fine if there is a gender imbalance. If men don't want to pursue higher education and want to hunt or log trees instead, that is fine.

miklos rosza said...

And what will the unforeseeable unintended consequences be? I can't and won't guess.

PatCA said...

Higher education is biased against males. A master's student, male, told me he wasn't sure if he was going to apply to a doctoral program--his adviser told him since he was white and male he probably wouldn't get in. This advice is been given openly, as the notion that past "victimization," manifested by matching societal racial makeup with the same in grad school, merits present day favoritism, is accepted dogma. 'Give it up for the cause' seems to be the message to men.

We have plenty of women and non-whites in the sciences and math. Some do well; some are in over their heads. Just like any grad school group. The niggling problem, tho, is what it does to men and whether it matters.

Slocum said...

Do you really think that the existence of a progam to "encourage and assist older, non-traditional female students" is what Glenn Reynolds was talking about?

Yes. It is one manifestation of a larger problem. It manifests itself in this program, in 'women's studies' programs generally, in 'you go girl' messages and 'testosterone poisoning' commentary.

It also manifests itself in this thread -- in the comments that suggest that maybe boys aren't really cut out for college to the same extent, maybe they're happy being welders. But 25 years ago when I was an undergrad, the gender ration was almost exactly 50-50. Has there been an epidemic of interest in welding since then?

Larry said...

"Affirmative action" is based upon the idea that multiple wrongs, in a potentially endless series, will somehow eventually produce a right. Which is wrong. It just produces, as a three-year old could tell us, more wrongs.

So I'd say let's nerve ourselves to chuck this misguided set of policies altogether, along with the other attempts to generate social outcomes that fit some preconceived notion of correctness. And then I'd be entirely in favor of "letting nature take its course", in the sense of letting people make their choices and accepting and working with whatever results

Slocum said...

I do not see data to suggest that the presence of women’s programs is keeping men from completing a baccalaureate. Please, no more devouring mother bullshit. It’s not women’s fault if men enroll and then don’t finish: we aren’t enough of the faculty or administration to have such effect.

No, it isn't the presence of women's studies programs per se -- it is the attitude that holds that Women are part of a permanent underdog class that deserves special consideration and special programs.

Another example--in the past couple of decades there have been constant worries about women and math performance. In the intervening period, K-12 Math (and K-8 Math in particular) has been transformed into something akin to a subdiscipline of English with reading and writing emphasized and calculating de-emphasized. Now, which sex do you think this has tended to help and which has it tended to disadvantage?

Sloanasaurus said...

I recall some recent theories that showed that on average men and women had equal intelligence, but men tended to have more geniuses and more dummies than women who tended to be more clustered towards average intelligence. If this study is correct, it would correlate to higher education enrollments for women. With men, you would have more opting out because dummies would not have the capacity for higher education and higher education may not be challenging enough for geniuses.

If Posner is right about women using up educational spots because they later become full time mothers, this will eventually lead to the decline in the institutions who enroll more women. If fewer of your alumni actually work in the fields in which they were educated, the reputation of your institution will decline over time because there are fewer professionals adding to the reputation of your institution.

If women eventually lead to dominating the legal profession, it may be just another trend that are true in other professions such as nursing and/or teaching which in the past were not always dominated by women.

gs said...

I wonder if gender "imbalances" are developing in other industrialized societies, or if they're a US or Western phenomenon.

Though it seems plausible that the gender effect is a consequence of affirmative action, can causation be argued empirically?

Ann Althouse said...

Leeontheroad: "I am, overall, I will say, amused to note that folks who oppose affirmative action measures are all for them when they apply to men."

Who does that refer to? Obviously not me. I'm opposed to affirmative action for men.

Coco said...

"Yes. It is one manifestation of a larger problem. It manifests itself in this program, in 'women's studies' programs generally, in 'you go girl' messages and 'testosterone poisoning' commentary."

Fine. And my question remains, is there any evidence that this alleged "go girl" attitude and "testosterone poisoning" commentary is what is preventing (or even a significantly contributing factor) men across the United States on average to graduate from college.

Let's be clear - my comments are not directed at whether there is indeed a male education crisis - I think there may be in certain socioeconomic groups - but it is not because of women studies programs or antecdotally alleged attitudes.

Coco said...

wow - poor grammar in my last post. My apologies.

stealthlawprof said...

I always thought I was teaching something other than trade school. I want my students to be educated in a broad, liberal sense. Law is the context in which I do this. While a broad, liberal education is available elsewhere, it is for many people most available in law school. It does not happen often or well at most undergraduate institutions and it is not very available in many graduate programs. If my students graduate and use that education to raise a family or become a filmmaker or practice law or whatever, that is fine.

With the number of law schools proliferating, it is a good thing that graduates use their education in a wide array of activities -- child rearing included. I would hate to think there is a danger of flooding the market with well-educated, intelligent people, although one has to admit the possibility of flooding the market with lawyers.

Based on that, the notion of affirmative action for men in law school is silly. Let the most qualified students come and let them do with the degree what they choose to do.

John A said...

Seems to be one VDH touched upon in passing:
*Ivory Cower*
'One can learn a lot about the pathologies of the contemporary university from what its presidents say--and don't say. A close look at the data suggests a different picture from the one implied by Mr. Birgeneau's gratuitous lamentations about the lack of diversity. Whites, for instance, are underenrolled at Berkeley: They amount to around 35% of undergraduates versus 45% of the state's population. Given this fact, why doesn't the Chancellor complain about the shortage of whites on campus?

'He is oddly quiet, too, about the more explosive issue of the Asian-American presence. This group constitutes almost half the Berkeley student population, even though Asians make up only about 11% of California residents and 4% of the general U.S. population. Why doesn't Mr. Birgeneau admit that achieving his racial utopia would require deliberately reducing the enrollment of Asian-American students--presumably by discounting meritocratic criteria and test scores and instead emphasizing "community service" or other nebulous standards designed to circumvent Proposition 209? But because the new chancellor is obviously a sensitive sort, he cannot say what he apparently means: something like, "We have too many Asians, almost five times too many, and I am here to impose a quota on them and other suspect races." Instead, he worries about "underrepresentation" of some, while denying the logical corollary of "overrepresentation" of others. The same logic applies to gender, by the way. UC campuses enroll thousands more women than men, very much out of proportion to the general population, and yet Mr. Birgeneau does not decry the "overabundance" of women.'

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"Male Studies"?

...otherwise known as Western Civ.

"There's also the social problem outside of schools, as highly educated women have difficulty finding suitable partners."

Why do you think that is, Ann? What is a "suitable" partner?

Do you mean men with the same level of education and income, or is it just the education level, regardless of career?

I can see where it would be socially disadvantageous for a female lawyer to be married to a well-read construction worker, regardless of income level.

Tristram said...

Well, there are a lot more Dave Thomases (Wendys), Sam Waltons (Walmart) Bill Gates (Microsoft) than women who don't finish school and make a boat load of money (Maybe Martha Stewart? Dunno here education background...)

Of course, the truth is probably all three reasons he gave, plus a few more that he (we) haven't considered.

I graduated from Clemson in 1999 with an MS in CS, and my (then future) wife graduated with an MS in Mathematics.

My undergrad was from 1885-1989, and I did notice a big difference in the culture, but it is hard to pinpoint if it was simply because of the different schools (Clemson 97-99, St. Mary's College of Maryland '85-89), but my earlier experience seemed much less concerned with equality, with student identity groups (the Black Student Union only started at SMC in my Junior or Senior year). The student body as a whole seemed much more unified at SMC than at Clemson, but then Clemson is 19,000+ studented, vs. SMC's 1200, which is something that muct be accoutned for.

Back on topic, IIRC, there are many fewer CS students now then there were a few years ago. And I think this is a trend, that many of the male dominated disciplines are either in decline, or simply being overwhelmed by other disciplines.

Of course, in some case (Law, for example), it may be more a structural change of the makeup of the work force.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: For me, "suitable partner" means a partner who, from the woman's perspective, suits her. Some highly educated women may prosper in partnership with much less well educated men, but I assume generally there would tend to be problems.

Larry said...

And another thing:

Ann Althouse:
(Quoting Reynolds)
"The kind of statements that are routinely made about males and masculinity in classrooms and hallways would get professors fired if they were made about blacks, gays, or many other groups."

It's assumed that males can take it, and that it's not the same thing when you're knocking the traditionally advantaged group.

By whom is this "assumed"? In what way is a group "advantaged" when it's routinely made the object of ridicule and abuse? And in what way is this comment even relevant? (Would it in any way excuse, explain, or apologize for routine abuse of Jews, say, or Catholics, if someone said "it's assumed that they can take it"?) The point, I would think, isn't whether men, women, African-Americans, Catholics, cowboys or anyone can "take it" -- the point is to question why they should.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Women's Centers and whatnot are significantly distorting the number of men or women who do or do not go to college is patronizing and fatalistic.

College is a competitive, driven environment that requires motivation, skills, and stamina. If students are opting in or out because of window dressing programs and the comments of advisors, they aren't well suited for higher ed to begin with.

My unprovable theory: in the aggregate, men are increasingly not as hungry for higher ed - they have lost the competitive edge. At the other end of the curve, there are now more men who will strive to emulate Bill Gates, Wozniak, et al and make their move in business without credentials.

DADvocate said...

Society in general is more hostile towards males. A man trying for child custody in divorce is so fruitless that few even try. Divorced mothers often don't allow fathers to see their children as they should.

I'm tall, athletic and easy going. My college professors several times mentioned that they were "surprised" that I was intelligent. My GPA in graduate school was 3.97/4.00. When I went to the Tennessee Valley Authority to fill out an application, the lady in personell, being unusually candid because she knew my father, said that unless I was a minority or a woman don't even bother applying. I'm sure some males are saying, "Why bother?"

If a man draws attention to any such problem he labeled an "angry white male." (Assuming he's white.)

Here's a radical idea: why don't we try treating everybody equally regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, etc., for real?

Gauss said...

Leeontheroad:"It’s not women’s fault if men enroll and then don’t finish."

Exactly. Blaming others is not an effective way to solve any problem.

That said, perhaps this gender imbalance is a side effect of the much greater participation of women in the workforce. If that is the case, then that should be a consequence that the US should be happy to accept. The economic benefit of effective utilization of female labor outweighs the whatever injustice it causes to some males. It is one of the great strengths of the US.

Taiwan, Japan, and other East Asian nations have not been able to effectively integrate women into their workforces, to the detriment of their economic performance. Ironically, birth rates in Taiwan and Japan are much lower than the US, despite less female participation.

If gender imbalance is an inevitable consequence of total mobilization of the workforce, then fine - it's worth it.

Steve Donohue said...

As a male in college, I see no possible way that I would ever step foot inside of a "male studies" course about what it means to be a man in today's society. Not no way, not no how.

My argument against male quotas in college is the same against racial quotas- there's nothing inherently better about having more of one type that another type of person, but there is something inherently better about having smarter people in college. So if the ration is 135:100 women to men, no problem by me (for a variety of reasons).

Lastly, I advance the following theory although I don't completely support it myself. Men are almost always polled as more conservative than women; could it be that potentially intelligent but conservative males eschew the college lifestyle because they oppose the atmosphere?

Eli Blake said...

I posted on this thread about it last week.

What has happened here (in a poor, rural area) is that a lot of families expect their sons to start earning money right out of high school, while they send their daughters to college. This is especially true on the reservation-- almost all of the young men either go to work, the military or jail, and it has gotten to the point that those who want to go to college are teased about it by their peers, who consider college 'less manly' than the other options listed above. I think it's stupid, but that is the way some people think.

As far as affirmative action for men, 1) I don't see how you could ask for it, after all we still see men running corporations, the government and other institutions by and large. So women still have some advances to make (the argument could be proposed that one reason that women go to college is that a woman without a degree has practically no career choices while a man without a degree can still get a decent job). Besides, if I remember right, there are still about a dozen women-only colleges in America and no men-only colleges in the United States.

leeontheroad said...

Truth squadding this:

"A man trying for child custody in divorce is so fruitless that few even try."

Joint custody is the norm, first of all.

So if you mean primary physical custody, then you might eb interested to knwo that the majority of fathers who sue for this, win.

PatCA said...

Society has changed faster than university policy, so a lot of unintended consequences and unanswered questions result. CA universities, like Berkeley, ignore Asian enrollment, yet mine touts that it's way up there in graduating Hispanics--in an area that is dominant Hispanic! Who else would they be graduating?

Caucasians are now the minority in population and in academic jobs, yet no one talks about this, either. The implicit message now seems to be: we went underperforming and underprepared minorities in college.

Maybe it is time to chuck the whole balance thing and let nature take its course.

leeontheroad said...

Prof. Althouse,

I didn't misread your post to suggest you were in favor of affirmative action for men.

I was referring to discussiosn outside this blog-- the idea of new efforts to recruit and retain men in general is "in the air," though it's not called "affirmative action;" it's called a varity of things that sound less "political."

Sorry for any confusion.

Slocum said...

My unprovable theory: in the aggregate, men are increasingly not as hungry for higher ed - they have lost the competitive edge.

But if that is so, WHY?!? How does a student emerge from K-12 hungy for more, and how does he emerge as unmotivated and uninterested? What are the causal factors?

When other groups under-perform, it has been assumed that schools (or society at large) are failing them and that changes should be made. When males (or at least white males) are under-performing, it is assumed THEY are failing to adapt to the demands of modern schooling (which demands are taken as a given rather than things that might be altered to better suit male students).

leeontheroad said...


"We have plenty of women and non-whites in the sciences and math."

oh, really, Pat? Your evidence of this? Your definition of plenty?

Bruce Hayden said...

Ok, I agree, I wouldn't have taken male studies as an undergraduate either. Most guys wouldn't.

The reason that I suggested such in law schools is that a lot of women's advocacy seems to come out of women's programs in law school. Indeed, in many law schools, it appears that students can get credit for advocating for women.

My view is that it is time that the pendulum swings back towards the center, esp. in family related law, and one of the best ways of doing that is through law school programs.

So, yeh, a little OT. Sorry.

Jay Currie said...

It is fairly clear that men and women have different learning styles - and perhaps abilities - and that these styles mesh or do not mesh with whatever educational system happens to be in place. Various shifts in the system will favour one style over another. So what?

The imposition of gender equality - whether of opportunity or outcome - at the educational level will not change the career trajectories of the lawyers or data entry clerks who emerge. The market, which tends to have rather different goals than educational institutions, will sort the folks willing to work the hours to bill 2800 a year from those who are happy to poke along at 1500. Gender may have something to do with this. So will cultural expectations. And there will not be a damn thing the equality police will be able to do about it.

I would be much more interested in the number of female senior partners there are in, say, the top 500 US law firms than the number of baby lawyers popped into the legal ocean to sink or swim based on a wide variety of skills and attributes which the LSAT usually misses.

Bruce Hayden said...


You may be correct that men often win primary residential custodianship (or whatever you call it in your state) of their kids when it is litigated. But what you don't take into account is that a lot of guys just don't try because they were told by their divorce attorneys, et al., that their odds of winning were extremely low.

How do I know this is happening? Happened to me. And it happened to a lot of guys I have talked to over the last 11 years. Yes, not a scientific survey (self selected and too small).

It should be equal. Legally, it is. But in actuality, it isn't.

Jim Clay said...

Why are you worried about the staffing levels of lawyers? I think you would have a hard time arguing that we, as a country, don't have enough lawyers, but it is very clear that we need more scientists and engineers- fields that women are unlikely to fill at the levels we need.

Judith said...

I would like to see how these statistics are broken down for race/ethnicity.

There are many studies showing that black males are way overrepresented in prison and way underrepresented in college. At the same time you have way more black women going to college as a way out of the underclass. Then they tend to get government jobs which are seen as safe from discrimination and volatile market forces. Typical for first-gen achievers. This could be skewing the stats.

Jews and Asians (male and female) meanwhile are overrepresented because of the strong family/cultural push to be white-collar and educated.

(I use the word "overrepresented" to mean "out of proportion to their population.")

Bruce Hayden said...


The problem with looking at senior partners is that you are looking at the crop of lawyers who graduated 20-30-40 years ago, and is, therefore, to me, irrelevant. A better way to look at things is to look at how well men and women do who have comparable work experience.

Ignoring sex bias in K-12 education, and then ignoring it in admission to college (and, indeed, arguably enhancing it by putting more emphasis on grades) only works to disadvantage those who are of the less advantaged sex.

Bruce Hayden said...


I should also note that in addition to stronger family emphasis on education, there may also be an IQ function involved with Jews that also helps to increase their representation. This, at least, was one of the findings of the controversial "Bell Curve" by Herrnstein and Murray about a decade ago.

That really wasn't the most controversial finding though - but rather was that African-Americans and Hispanics, on average, scored lower than the mean on IQ tests.

As I have pointed out, the book was, and continues to be, controversial. So, take it with a grain of salt.

jult52 said...

Instead of race/ethnicity, I'd like to see numbers break down by parents' income level. I am willing to bet that the problem with males completing Bachelor's degrees has a lot to do with the growing social schism between the middle class and the growing underclass, but that's a hunch.

Just anecdotally, has anyone here met any relatively intelligent young men from two-parent households who have no intention of getting a college degree?

Jim Clay said...

"I am willing to bet that the problem with males completing Bachelor's degrees has a lot to do with the growing social schism between the middle class and the growing underclass, but that's a hunch."

Why wouldn't that affect males and females equally?

jult52 said...

Jim C: This is based on anecdotal personal experience but the mores of the lower income groups seems to affect males and females differently and leaves males particularly ill-suited for further education.

I'm interested in seeing whether other posters think I'm out to lunch or not. BTW, apologies for the sloppy writing in my previous post.

lindsey said...

"Why wouldn't that affect males and females equally?"

Because men and women are different. How is the lack of a strong male roll model (aka father) going to act out on men and women? This is really the defining feature of the underclass next to the lack of money. What different ways will men and women behave in pursuit of male approval and affection?

And it is affecting women because the amount of violent behavior involving women has seen massive increases recently.

This is going to have really negative results for women trying to find a partner they consider their intellectual equal.

Jeffrey Boulier said...

Affirmative action for men might already exist. I was told in the early nineties that William and Mary was discriminating in favor of men, in order to achieve a more balanced sex ratio. The opinion was shared by both male and female students.

It's probably a rumor, but there's a slight amount of numerical evidence for it. The Education Trust's reports that six-year male graduation rates at William and Mary are slightly below those of females, which is consistent with W&M admitting sub-par men. It's a small discrepancy though, and also consistent with a wide variety of other explanations.

moonrage said...

While I do believe that colleges tend to be more anti-male than they are to be anti-female, I think the problem of male underrepresentation in higher education has more to do with it being more female-friendly than it being male-unfriendly. This goes without saying that men may not be so much underrepresented as women are overrepresented.

If there are any programs aimed at encouraging men to pursue college, they certainly need to as effective as those offered to women (eg summer orientations to college-bound women, women in math and sciences, scholarships for women, and other outreach programs offered exclusively to women.) These programs by themselves may not necessarily result in discouraging men to pursue college. Rather, they simply effectively do what they intend to do - that is provide extra encouragement to women.

Whether the extra steps that universities take in favor of women are evidence of misandry or not, current enrollment data at least suggests that these steps are unnecessary at best, and unfair at worst. If anything, they should be directed towards men, at least based on current data.

leeontheroad said...

Re' Bell Curve

oh gah! not again.

"That really wasn't the most controversial finding though - but rather was that African-Americans and Hispanics, on average, scored lower than the mean on IQ tests."

A misrepresentation of the findings and data.

The researchers found correlatiosn between racial groups, soci-economic status, and measures of "intelligence." They boldly also suggested, based on these correaltions (many of which ranged from .2 to .4), that it was advisable to do away with any number of social programs. Badically, they suggested the market was rewarding intelligence, and those with lower soci-economic status were not intelligent enough to do work associated with high salaries.

The *scientific* controversies are:

1. are phenotypic racial groupings a valid basis for making genotypic conclusions?

2. are correlations of .2 to .4 strong enough to undergird policy conclusions?

3. since when is correlation evidence of causation?

There are also questions about the political agenda of the research funders and those whom the researchers cite-- who just happen to be folks who for years have been opposed to the programs the authors found "scientific evidence" to critique.

lindsey said...

"While I do believe that colleges tend to be more anti-male than they are to be anti-female, I think the problem of male underrepresentation in higher education has more to do with it being more female-friendly than it being male-unfriendly."

Yes, but what if "female-friendly" is off-putting to men and felt as a latent hostility? I think the problem starts much earlier than college though. I remember reading an article once about the types of book girls like to read and boys like to read in elementary school. Apparently, girls like to read the books boys like to read (adventure, non-fiction) and also like reading more female literature (about interpersonal relationships, family, etc). The feminists changed the curriculum so much that most of the books appeal to girls, not boys. The boys find the books off-putting and boring, so they start to hate reading at a young age. And bored kids, especially boys, are kids who are going to act up in class, so the problem gets compounded.

lindsey said...

Here's the article I referenced:

"Unfortunately, the textbooks and literature assigned in the elementary grades do not reflect the dispositions of male students. Few strong and active male role models can be found as lead characters. Gone are the inspiring biographies of the most important American presidents, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs. No military valor, no high adventure. On the other hand, stories about adventurous and brave women abound. Publishers seem to be more interested in avoiding "masculine" perspectives or "stereotypes" than in getting boys to like what they are assigned to read.

At the middle school level, the kind of quality literature that might appeal to boys has been replaced by Young Adult Literature, that is, easy-to-read, short novels about teenagers and problems such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorced parents and bullying. Older literary fare has also been replaced by something called "culturally relevant" literature -- texts that appeal to students' ethnic group identification on the assumption that sharing the leading character's ethnicity will motivate them to read."

I always hated Young Adult Literature. When I read Truman's biography years ago, I remember being impressed that as a kid one of the books that seemed to stoke his imagination and desire to learn was a book about great leaders and their military exploits. Would such a book even be allowed in schools today?

"Surveys show "boys prefer adventure tales, war, sports and historical nonfiction, while girls prefer stories about personal relationships and fantasy." Boys don't like to read stories that feature girls, but girls often choose stories that appeal to boys."

lindsey said...

Here's the link to the Washington Post article referenced at my link. The old link on that page was broken. So sorry for all the posts.

cathyf said...

I think that you can't have an intelligent discussion of this without doing some counting statistics of all sorts of factors which affect males and females differently and affect academic success.

A partial list:
-- severe autism
-- mild autism
-- mental retardation
-- schizophrenia
-- depression
-- OCD
-- suicide success
-- being a criminal
-- drug/alcohol abuse
Except for depression, all of these things are suffered by males disproportionately to their fraction of the population. Start counting up all of these effects, and how much of that 35 can you explain away?

I find it intriguing that the 4-1 male-female ratio among top scientists is the same as the 4-1 male-female ratio among autistics. (Notice that no one is suggesting affirmative action to address that latter imbalance ;-)

This argument has been made by others -- it was one suggestion made by Summers in his (in)famous talk. Suppose the distributions of intellectual talent are such that the male and female means are the same, the distributions are symmetric, but the standard deviation for males is higher than for females. So there is a mirror effect -- more males are at the top of the distribution than females at the top of the distribution and more males at the bottom of the distribution than females at the bottom of the females at the bottom, and more females in the middle than males in the middle. So a single phenomenom explains both the smaller total number of males capable of college, and the larger number of males at the very high end.

cathy :-)

Slocum said...

Just anecdotally, has anyone here met any relatively intelligent young men from two-parent households who have no intention of getting a college degree?

Yes, in fact I know several families with middle-school and high-school boys who are seriously underperforming relative to their standardized test scores and relative to their family income and education levels. In fact, it happens that I have one living at my house.

What's the problem? In my son's case, it was a matter of losing large numbers of points no due to bad work, but late assignments. He'd forget to bring them home, or do them and forget to take them back to school, or take them back and leave them in his locker, or turn them in once but not be able to find them to resubmit them as a part of a 'packet'. There were many permutations. He was mastering the material but getting lousy grades primarily due to bad organizational/clerical abilities.

The thing is, I was similar when I was his age, but it did not matter nearly so much. The teachers were easier going about late work, there was less daily homework and tests counted for more. 25 years ago, I was nowhere near valedictorian in high school but aced the ACT and SAT and ended up in the honors program of a 'public ivy'. Doesn't work that way anymore -- GPA is critical, and crossing all your t's is critical to GPA.

And his teachers? Every one female (even in 8th grade, even in Math and Science). All nice enough women, but all convinced it was the student's job to conform to their systems.

PatCA said...

I should have said, lee, at my university we have plenty of female science grad students--perhaps even majority female. Whether this is the result of women in general joining the workforce or because they got special consideration, I don't know. I also don't know if any men were discouraged from applying because of affirmative action.

What's your point, anyway, with all your debunking?

Tyro said...

Here's a discussion of matriculation v. graduation ratios

What's evident is that these disparities grow throughout the average period of undergraduate enrollment. I'd guess that this is primarily due to attrition among males. And I'd bet that the great majority of these males leave voluntarily; they are not expelled from the institution. If this is the case, then why?

The average IQs', as well as SAT scores in maths and verbal, of men are nominally higher than those of women. So it's not likely a matter of native intelligence nor pre-college academic preparation.

Part of their motive may arise from the same set of characteristics that would lead men to resist "men's studies" programs. Men tend to disfavor 'soft', highly subjective, and therapeutic domains of study. Hence their prominence in maths, sciences, engineering, and subdisciplines heavy on systematic analysis and informatics. Yet at many institutions, due to breadth requirements, several years of undergraduate study are necessarily devoted to precisely these sorts of 'soft' courses.

Perhaps, looking forward to 5 or 6 years of study, and costs usually exceeding $50,000 , many young men deem that a college degree simply isn't worth much. That the 'academic racket' is more of a social filter than a learning environment. And that meaning and knowledge are better sought in the world away from academia.

lindsey said...

Here's another article from joannejacobs' education blog. This one from BusinessWeek originally. They have a whole issue devoted to the gender gap in education.

From his first days in school, an average boy is already developmentally two years behind the girls in reading and writing. Yet he's often expected to learn the same things in the same way in the same amount of time. While every nerve in his body tells him to run, he has to sit still and listen for almost eight hours a day. Biologically, he needs about four recesses a day, but he's lucky if he gets one, since some lawsuit-leery schools have banned them altogether. Hug a girl, and he could be labeled a "toucher" and swiftly suspended -- a result of what some say is an increasingly anti-boy culture that pathologizes their behavior.

If he falls behind, he's apt to be shipped off to special ed, where he'll find that more than 70% of his classmates are also boys. Squirm, clown, or interrupt, and he is four times as likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

She writes that boys used to catch up in high school. All of this leaves me wondering about the wisdom of co-education for all children. I've read before that girls who attend single sex schools are more competitive and actually have higher self-esteem than girls in co-ed schools. Perhaps boys would do better without the added distraction of girls, especially given the way girls dress nowadays. Maybe in 20 years if I go back to college, it will be an all-girls school.

linda said...

Murray and Herrnstein's thesis was that when comparing whites with whites, individually measured IQ was statistically more significant than socioeconomic status, and that the same was true when comparing blacks with blacks. That there exists a black-white gap in IQ (and also a white-East Asian gap) is unwelcome, but it is not at all controversial among professionals in the relevant fields. The existence of the gap was well known decades before the Bell Curve was written.

River Cocytus said...

Hmm, I would argue this: Colleges & other institutions offer a lot of BENEFITS to women. Thus overall, women are more likely to go to higher education institutions. Men aren't being directly driven away.

Also, I'm in a line of work that is...
1. Potentially explosively profitable
2. Requires little education
3. Requires a lot of drive and ambition

(Hint: Entrepreneurship.)

If more men are doing what they should be doing, and that is being their own man, like the founding fathers were, then I think this inequality is a great thing. Men maybe are seeing through the general nonsense that college is? The only thing strange about this whole thing is that it is not any kind of mystery why men aren't attending college as frequently as women. (Or graduating, which is what this statistic is indicating.) Big deal. Who wants to be cooped up in a classroom for up to 1/4 of your life? Waagh. You already spend enough time sleeping and waiting in line.

People need to learn that you don't learn to live & be successful just by sitting in lecture for 16+ years and doing standardized tests & homework. None of those things really matter so much in life outside of the institution.

So there! =)

I say this as a college graduate (In Computer Science.)

leeontheroad said...

Pat asked:

"What's your point, anyway, with all your debunking?"

Probably mostly that I'm being testy today :-) In general, common wisdom is so often in emotionally charged matters not what the numbers tell us; and I prefer the numbers to the "common wisdom" of the last neighborhood BBQ, partisan news source, or ideologue's rusty old saw shined up like new. I like having discussions when folks can stipulate the evidence, as it were; and then discuss what to do about a problem, if it exists.

I think, in this instance, there's no problem in professional schools, there may be a problem in baccalaureate programs (retention, but not matriculation), and that there are signs of trouble in K-12 education, for boys, overall. I just don't think it's women in academia, women in elementary ed., etc.

Peter Hoh said...

I was an elementary teacher in the 1990s. The fact that women were under-represented in science PhD programs was evidence enough that something negative was happening, and that corrective action was due.

What's the matter with applying the same logic to the question of the under-representation of men in undergraduate programs?

The proposed solution to the girls and science problem was not to use affirmative action to correct the problem at the grad school level, but to make changes in the way science was taught K-12. I'm not in favor of creating preferences for men, but I am in favor of examining the question. What's going on K-12 that leads to this imbalance?

Discrimination against women -- policies that kept women out of certain graduate programs, for instance -- affected all women, regardless of status. To their credit, elite women fought to open doors for all women. The problem with men and declining undergraduate enrollment is not one that will affect the elite, and thus I don't believe it will be addressed.

moonrage said...

The possibility that the gap in college enrollment is a natural extension of sexual differences should not be dismissed. That may well be the case. Be that as it may, the social responses between the different sexual gaps have been undeniably also different for those that favor men and those that do not. The responses have consistently been aimed at either closing the gap where men lead or absent where they don't.

Just as the enrollment gap between men and women may be explained simply by sexual difference, one cannot easily dismiss the impact of all the variants of affirmative action (from female-specific scholarships, orientations, studies, quotas, etc)
on male attendance in higher ed. After all, if these affirmative actions didn't have any significant effects, then why do we have them in the first place?

Tanker J.D. said...

I'll throw two cents just to echo what other men have said:

Up to High School, grades always seemed to have to do with checking little blocks off in mundane order and playing "please the teacher," who was most likely a woman raised to believe that male behaviours were "disruptive" and female behaviours were "good."

I also hypothosize that there is a hidden and more invidious discrimination occuring. Grade inflation has turned grades into emotional validation--not objective performance evaluators. In subjective course work (like the humanities) a female teacher who sees a well-behaved but struggling female student will be apt to provide that student more grade cushion than to a hard-headed male who might, you know, vociferiously dissent from the female teacher's viewpoint.

Tanker J.D. said...

Oh, and to all the silly white males who argue that the mere fact that a discrepency occurs justifies an institutional remedy--don't you know:

Girls and minorities do poorly in school = white men's fault (b/c we "run the world.")

White boys do poorly in school = white men's fault (b/c we don't take enough time off from running the world to supervise homework and coach little league.)

Cathy Young said...

I wrote an article on this subject (whether boys are shortchanged by the educational system) for Reason some 5 years ago:

Where the boys are

At the time, I spoke to a number of people who felt that boys were being alienated by anti-boy attitudes in schoo, starting with the primary school system. A 1990 survey conducted by the American Association of University Women (and spun as evidence of low-self-esteem among girls) found that when schoolchildren were asked questions like, "Whom do teachers like to be around more, boys or girls?", "Who do teachers think are smarter?", "Whom do teachers compliment more?", and so forth, both boys and girls overwhelmingly felt that teachers favored girls.

There are other factors as well. Several studies have found (and several educators I know confirm) that at least in the working-class and lower-middle-class population, young women tend to be more focused and with clearer career goals than young men.

I think the present situation is clearly a problem. Yes, there are some men who are not going to college because they're opting for entrepreneurship instead, but I doubt that this accounts for a large portion of the college attendance and graduation gap (which, by the way, is most pronounced among African-Americans and in low-income groups).

For more on this, check my blogpost:

What About the Men?

Slightly off-topic: In one of the posts on this thread, leeontheroad disputes the notion of anti-male bias in child custody cases and says that fathers who sue for sole custody usually win. That's simply not the case. This claim is based on bogus studies that lump together contested custody cases, and cases in which the father gets sole custody with the mother's consent.

Sorry about the shameless plugging, but I'll post a link to another one of my articles, simply because I don't know of another good online source of info on the subject:

Do fathers have the edge in divorce?

ATMX said...

What we need to be much more concerned about than the relative dearth of men in college is that China and India are graduating 20 to 50 times the number of scientists and engineers than are U.S. colleges. Women are a small minority even of the paltry number of U.S. science and engineeering graduates. That seems to be a collossal misallocation of brainpower. Or was Larry Summers right?

I would agree with the idea that perhaps too many people are getting college degrees. I would go further and say that many of those degrees are not worth the significant resources that individuals, universities, private organizations, and government invest in them, and don't significantly contribute towards the prosperity of the country.

I suspect that part of the problem is that the professions and degrees that males tend to dominate are more pressured by globalization and foreign trade. If there is less job security in these fields, there will likely be less people pursuing these fields. If males don't like the other options available to them, they may opt out of college. I would imagine that if we had policies that recognized the pressure that certain occupations are under in the face of globalization and encouraged science and engineering careers, we would reverse the gender disparity. One thing I would suggest is a large tax deduction for income derived from science and engineering occupations, effectively reducing the income tax rates for engineers and scientists.

TopCat said...

Interesting post, I'd like to mention the true victims of this policy -- the approximately 50% of the population that does not go to college but gets to foot the lion's share of the bill. I think this "problem" if it is a real problem, started with Griggs v Duke Power, the SCt case that turned high schools into a 4 year babysitting service. It's been compounded by the fluff that is passed off as legitimate college majors in this country (e.g., Ward Churchill and friends) at the expense of socially productive courses that hurt the head too much.
My proposal for a remedy would be to amend the Pell Grant program, or have a cancellation/forgiveness component in student loans, for any course in the hard sciences, engineering, or foriegn languages completed with a high enough grade. I think the women drifting through college because they can't see themselves working at Walmart might respond to the economic incentives to do something productive for the greater society.

rboggs said...

The question I have is what is the distribution of the degrees that are issued by the university. If the women’s degrees are in education, English literature or some other soft subject I would not expect many men to be equally represented in these areas. So if there has been a large increase in the availability of the a of these school openings there would be an increase in the number of women in college and the graduation of women. The question is if the traditional areas of male interest still drawing men. Science, engineering, law and medicine are the traditional areas that have interested men. Of the science and engineering graduates, it was hard to get more than 1 or 2 percent of the age cohort of 22-year-olds to graduate in these fields even during the sputnik craze in the early sixties. I would not expect the same proportion of men to be graduating from college now. The great increase in number of students for other subjects are mostly women and subjects that may not have much interest for men.

TopCat said...

interesting post on a closely related topic at Galley Slaves;

JB said...

I tread in fearfully, but hey what the heck...

I don't really care one way or another about this, law school, college, and K-12 education was overall a pretty colossal waste of time. I know a good number of men who do just fine not finishing through with College. Bank Managers...Department Supervisors, whatever, how college helps you there I have no clue.

Look, evidently men are still overrepresented in the "hard" sciences, big freaking surprise. Look at the majors men tend to take...they tend to be..."useful." Men go to college because it will help them acheive something, like to be a CPA it's required. Should it be? Heck no, but it is, so men are there, can you become a civil engineer without a degree? No and where are men overrepresented? Oh yeah.

So look if women want to fill up women's studies, British Lit, Art History, or whatever non-useful majors exist, what should I care. I mean really who's making the prudent financial decision the one who goes to college for 4 years, and accrues ~$20,000 in debt all while forgoing $100,000 in Income, all so at the end of 4 years, to make the same as the person who's working 4 years?

The problem is...not that men aren't going to college, it's that some insist on thinking college is more valuable than it is. Somewhere between pile of manure and a working Ford Pinto, unless that is, you want to be an engineer or some other hard science individual or meet some credentialing requirement.

That being said, I had much the same experience as Slocum described, miserable GPA, and admirable Standardized Tests scored....Why should I waste my time pushing worthless paperwork (I don't mind pushing papers just worthless paper pushing annoys me). Some are just more compliant personalities than other and I wasn't one such in school, but I've always done well in work.

Sloanasaurus said...

When trying to explain why many women are not in engineering type fields... has anyone pondered that perhaps women in general are not interested in things such as engineering. For example, I am a lawyer myself but I also do all kinds of crazy mechanical things such as install electrical switches, fix cars, etc.. in my spare time. I have many male friends who are also lawyers that do the same mechanical type stuff. However, I just don't know many women that are interested in tinkering with mechanical things. In contrast, I don't know any men who attend scrap booking parties. Perhaps these observations (which I am sure most others also have on this board) explain a lot more than we would care to admit about why men over populate some professions and women over populate others.

Bruce Hayden said...

Kathy Young - thanks for the articles. The first was one of the most (IMHO) even handed views of the entire situation that we have been talking about for the last couple of days that I have read. And the later one seemed to confirm my gut feelings about custody determination - having lived through such.

Back to the first article. Kathy makes the point that one size doesn't fit all. And that if, for example, there are some anti-male biases of some degree in K-12 education, that they don't affect all males, or, probably even most, males that much.

And, I think that she suggests that it might be time to revisit the option of single sex education. Not for all, or even most. But for some.

Bruce Hayden said...


This brings up another controversial book that we have discussed here: "The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain" by Simon Baron-Cohen. He posits that there are two essential brain types, the more male oriented Systemizing (S) type and the more female oriented Emphasizing (E) type, and that while both brain types have bell curved distributions across the two sexes, that the means of the two distributions between the two sexes differ.

That males would tend to be more systemizing and less empathizing than women, and visa versa, on average, shouldn't surprise any of us. I think that it comports with our common knowledge. We have this picture of the average family with the woman talking to her friends either in person or over the phone in the kitchen (maybe while she makes dinner), while her husband is happily tinkering by himself out in the garage. Yes, it is a stereotype, but one that is based on what most of us accept as a valid truth.

So, he goes on to point out though that engineering and physics, for example, require a strong S-type brain in order to excell. And, thus, he is not surprised that these areas are dominated by men.

I should add that the discussion of this book occasioned a similar level (and type) of controversy as we have seen in this thread - so, instead of revisiting all that, I would like to incorporate that discussion by reference here.

somross said...

My experience has been, having taught college students since the late 1970s, men are not as well prepared academically for college. Another way to put it is that the men who go to the colleges where I've taught are not as well-prepared. Every remedial composition class I've ever taught has included more men than women, often by a high percentage. And if they can't write, there are few classes they can pass. If many colleges want an equal percentage or a nearly equal percentage of men and women, they may have to make it easier for men to get in.

DADvocate said...

leeontheroad -

Please be sure and read the Cathy Young refers to in her post.

jult52 said...

Very interesting discussion.

Slocum -- thanks for responding to my question.

leeontheroad said...

thanks, dadvocate. I had. Not sure what you think I shoudl glean from it, though. I think her cites are on the mark.

Doc said...

"The problem he cites is that 135 women are receving college DEGREES for every 100 men. Thus, the problem, if there is one, should be focused on why men are not matriculating as well as girls. A legitimate question." -Coco.

So, Coco, if this is a legitimate question, can you postulate an answer?

Unknown said...

I attended graduate school. There were 4 males and about 20 females in the masters program. 2 females dropped out and 3 males dropped out along the way.

It seems like the old male only and female only schools benefitted them. Men and women think differently and often don't do well being taught by each other. I don't have data to back up this thesis, but a look at graduation rates would be interesting.