GENDER REVERSAL TREND

As The Number of College Girls Surge Forward, The Boys Decline.

When speaking on the subject of why a female student should attend a women’s college, Judson College, the fifth oldest women’s college in the United States, located in Marion Alabama, cited a 2008 Hardwick-Day Research Survey that listed at least fifteen positive reasons why making that decision would be an advantage over attending a Co-ed institution.

Be that as it may, the concern in some circles is focused on some sobering statistics. According to Forbes.com, with the number of women’s colleges’ nationwide dropping from 200 to just 47 over the past 50 years, it’s no surprise that people are beginning to reevaluate their purpose in contemporary times.

The importance of having a feminist space, particularly for schooling, was more pronounced 100 years ago, when women still lacked basic suffrage rights in America, let alone access to higher education. Although gender equality in America has clearly improved, an argument could be made it still hasn’t improved enough.

What is the irony?

More and more, traditional co-ed universities are eerily beginning to seem like colleges for women anyway.

The New York Times reported women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. The gender imbalance is also pronounced at some private colleges, such as New York University, and Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon, and large public universities in states like California, Florida and Georgia. The College of Charleston, a public liberal arts college in South Carolina, is 66 percent female.

A 2005 USA Today article updated in 2010 cites as women march forward, more boys seem to be falling by the wayside. Not only do national statistics forecast a continued decline in the percentage of males on college campuses, but the drops are seen in all races, income groups and fields of study, says policy analyst Thomas Mortenson, publisher of the influential Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Since 1995, he has been tracking and sounding the alarm about the dwindling presence of men in colleges reports The Burlington Free Press.

There are more men than women ages 18-24 in the USA, 15 million vs. 14.2 million, according to a Census Bureau estimate last year. But nationally, the male/female ratio on campus today is 43/57, a reversal from the late 1960s and well beyond the nearly even splits of the mid-1970s.

Today, though, the blue-collar jobs that once attracted male high school graduates are drying up. More boys are dropping out of high school and out of college. And as the gender gap widens, concern about the educational aspirations of young men understandably is growing.

The Berkeley Blog relates this year, about 3 women will get their B.A. degrees for every 2 men who do. About 50 years ago, the ratio was about 2 men to every 1 woman. In a society that treats a college degree as the ticket to the middle class and the certificate of achievement, this gender reversal is a social revolution.

Why is this occurring? There are many points of views.

The Berkeley Blog continues stating sociologists such as Tom DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann point to several explanations, to changes that probably reinforced one another. For generations, girls have done better than boys at school. While we can debate whether there are inherent cognitive differences between the sexes, it is clear that girls go into school with skills and habits better suited to doing well at school: self-control, paying attention, not getting into trouble, eagerness to learn, and so on. The boy-girl difference in these habits grows over the years in school. The difference was not new in the 1970s and ‘80s. What was new was that high school girls started taking more college-prep classes, including hard math and science classes, and that girls in college persisted longer than boys, getting to that B.A. degree more often.

The economy changed after the 1950s and ‘60s. There was increasing demand for workers with school-like skills – good reading, writing, arithmetic, and analytical abilities, the type of skills girls were especially good at. The demand for muscle and physical endurance on assembly lines, the jobs that men without college used to get well-paid to do, plummeted. The message that there were good opportunities trickled down to high school girls; they seized those opportunities by beefing up their course work, delaying marriage, going to college, and persisting to the degree. In 1970, more than half of working women aged 30-34, worked as teachers, but by 2000, only one-fifth did. A wider world of jobs had opened up.

The Berkeley publication shares, the period when women overtook men in college graduation was also a period of growing turmoil in family life, later marriage, higher divorce rates, stagnation in men’s wages. Girls in the 1970s and ‘80s, according to this explanation, got the message that finding Mr. Right was no guarantee of security. If you’ll need to take care of yourself before and even after marriage, and there’s a good chance you will, you’d better have the credentials.

Other factors may also be involved in the reversal. There is some evidence, for example, that the gender gap is widening in part because boys growing up without fathers or with poorly-educated (and thus, poorly-employed) fathers have fallen behind in the college race. Something about failing male role models may be contributing. Then, there is the advent of the birth control pill in the 1960s which allowed young women to avoid unwanted pregnancies, delay marriage, and plan families – all of which would make pursuing careers more practical.

Inside Higher Ed presents this view. Beginning as early as kindergarten, the authors explained, girls have better average social and behavioral skills than boys, and that relates to girls’ higher average grades at each stage of school and why girls are more likely to earn a degree.

“The grade gap isn’t about ability,” said Claudia Buchmann, co-author and sociology professor at Ohio State University, “it’s really more about effort and engagement in school.” On average, middle school girls are more likely to say they like school and good grades are important, and are thus more likely to study more. “The flip side of course, is that boys’ lower engagement in school leads to weaker preparation, and then reduces their chances of getting through college,” Buchmann said.

Gender stereotypes are also at play, the authors found. Boys have historically been trained to think that they needn’t obey rules or work hard because men used to be able to drop out of high school and still earn wages comparable to better-educated women, thanks to jobs in fields like manufacturing, construction and travel. That’s not the case anymore.

This trend is not limited to The United States. In western countries, the disparity is consistent.

Macleans.ca On Campus reports at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, the student body is 79 per cent women. Though the Mount is an extreme example, female-dominated campuses are an increasing reality at universities across Canada. According to Statistics Canada, 57 per cent of the student body in universities is female. Of the 69 schools Maclean’s surveyed in its 2010 university guide, 24 institutions have a student body that’s over 60 per cent female. And it’s not just Mount Saint Vincent where the females make up more than 70 per cent of the population. It’s the same at NSCAD University and Université Sainte-Anne.

In a different June 26, 2013 article, McCleans reports young women earn nearly two-thirds of medical degrees. Women accounted for 59 per cent of young adults aged 25 to 34 with a university degree, and 62.2 per cent of those with medical degrees, nearly twice the proportion of medical-school graduates aged 55 to 64, pointing to a dramatic increase in the future number of female doctors. Females outnumbered males roughly 60 to 40 in medical school, a career area that had once been male-dominated.

In 1990, 14 per cent of women aged 25 to 54 had a university degree, a figure that surged to 28 per cent in 2009, according to a separate Statcan study. What’s more, 34 per cent of women aged 25 to 34 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2009 compared to 26 per cent of men.

Overall, women accounted for 53.7 per cent of all university degree holders in Canada aged 25 to 64, the 2011 survey found. More than 47 per cent of earned doctorate holders in the same age group were women, compared with 31.6 per cent among their older counterparts. Women aged 25 to 34 also accounted for 58 per cent of those graduates with a master’s degree.

A trip across the pond shows similar results. In a Guardian.co.uk article titled “The gender gap at universities: where are all the men?” it stated if you’re a male student on campus at Liverpool Hope, Bath Spa or Cumbria University, you may be feeling a little outnumbered. These are some of the 20 institutions where there are twice as many female fulltime undergraduates as there are male, according to Higher Education Statistics Authority (Hesa) data.

In 2010-11, there were more female (55%) than male fulltime undergraduates (45%) enrolled at universities, a trend which shows no sign of shrinking. The latest statistics released by the University and College Admissions Service (Ucas) revealed a 22,000 drop in the number of male students enrolling at universities. This meant that last autumn women were a third more likely to start a degree than their male counterparts, despite the fact that there are actually more young men than women in the UK enrolling at universities.

These statistics are consistent with Female Competition International’s experience in working with competitors in the compensated women’s submission wrestling world. Virtually all of the female competitors have graduated from or are still attending college. Soon headed to college, in its 2010-11 release Max Preps reports girl high school wrestlers grew to 7,351 athletes, an increase of 1,217 wrestlers from the previous year (a 19.8 percent increase).

A true life example with one of our close associates who have both a daughter and son tells the same tale. Each child was nurtured with the same loving ingredients including AP classes, private coaching and tutors, yet each experienced what increasingly is consistent with the current trends described above. The daughter surged on to an Ivy League school, progressed and later graduated from Oxford in England, while the son and both parents breathed a huge sigh of relief when he graduated from The California University system with the basic four year degree, in an effort that spanned five years.

Finally on Sunday, 2 June 2013, ARAB NEWS reports, women in Saudi Arabia have transcended men in education by a 4 percent margin, according to a recent United Nations statistics. The statistics revealed that 52 percent of university attendees are women, while men account for 48 percent. The statistics also showed that women make up the larger part of university occupants in two thirds of Middle Eastern countries.

“This is a worldwide phenomenon,” said Saleha Abedin, associate professor of sociology and adviser to the president at Dar Al-Hekma College. “In terms of the number of students enrolled, especially in higher education, women exceed men and this is also true in Saudi Arabia.”

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Sources: Forbes.com, Digest For Education Statistics, New York Times, USA Today Life, The Berkeley Blog, Inside Higher Ed, Arab News, On Campus, Maxpreps a CBSsports.com site, photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons, Guardian.co.uk, www2.macleans.ca