The Female Conquest of Colleges

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jul 29, 2013    •    948 Views

By Lilli DeBode, guest blogger, Kent Place School alumna and freshman at Columbia University

This past year I went through the dreaded college process. In my preliminary search last summer, I found myself flipping though college guides and looking at the male-female ratios. What I found every time without fail in the little ratio boxes at first surprised me—then became downright frustrating.

Almost every single college had a higher percentage of females.

Now how does that even make sense? That many colleges can’t possibly have (at least) a 45-55 ratio. Where have all the men gone?

Females first started outnumbering males in the late 1970’s. The ratio has been favoring women ever since. In 2008, the male-female ratio in private schools was 40.7-59.3.

Some schools have tried to balance out the classes, but they are usually met with the argument that under qualified males are beating out more qualified females—a gender-based affirmative action dispute.

But back to my question, where have all the men gone? Linda Sax, a professor at UCLA explains, “What has changed is the relative balance between men and women, since women’s enrollments have risen faster than men’s. Further, the growing gender gap in college enrollments is attributable primarily to increases in college attendance among women from groups historically under-represented in higher education — namely, African Americans, Latinas, older students, and lower-income students.”

So the nearly 40-60 ratio can be attributed to the relatively new influx of women from groups that didn’t previously attend college. Men aren’t actually disappearing (phewf); men in certain groups just aren’t applying to colleges as quickly as their female counterparts.

Sources and resources: For more information on the male-female ratio click here. For more data on the gender gap click here. For an article on how the gender imbalance creates social issues on campus click here.

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