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Jackie Burrell

Gender Bias in College Admissions

By February 4, 2010

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Empty Classroom  (Photo by Tiffany Szerpicki, Stock.Xchng) There's been talk for the last several years about a significant gender gap in college admissions. Back in the "Mad Men" era, guys outnumbered women on university campuses so spectacularly, people joked about girls going off to college to get their Mrs. degree. Now, not only do women make up more than half the student population on campuses across the United States, there has been a growing suspicion that colleges have initiated a sort of affirmative action program for guys. The statistics have caught the attention of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is investigating. An editorial in the LA Times last week, puts some of the most glaring statistics out there...

  • Vassar accepted 35% of the men who applied last year and just 20% of the women.
  • Pomona College: 21% of the men who applied and 13% of the women.
  • William and Mary: 45% of the men, 27% of the women.

... then neatly avoids taking much of a stance and calls on policy makers to figure out what's happening to boys' education.

It's not the first time the issue has been raised. In 2006, the director of admissions at Kenyon published an open letter in the New York Times addressed "To All the Girls I've Rejected," which raised this very issue. "What messages are we sending young women that they must... be even more accomplished than men to gain admission to the nation's top colleges? These are questions that admissions officers like me grapple with," Jennifer Delahunty Britz wrote. It was a brave letter. Or it was until she signed off saying, "I apologize for the demographic realities."

Your thoughts?

February 9, 2010 at 10:57 am
(1) maisey says:

It’s easy for parents to say to our daughter that they shouldn’t be looking for guys at college anyway…but I can see this really affecting your world b/c you do hope by 18, 20 to find some romance.

It’s a good reason, though why a college kids world should not revolve around the pretend world of a college campus. Unlike the Mad Men days, there’s no reason to stay in the isolated world of your university. Even if you’re not near a major city, I would encourage students to get involved in the community beyond those collegiate worlds. The guys are probably older and better out there anyway.

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