June 26, 2002
The college gender gap

The college gender gap Fritz Schranck finds Instant Man's reaction to this article about the gender gap in American universities surprising. I confess that I've never been all that impressed with Reynolds, so I'm not that surprised. Is Reynolds unaware that the very first expert the article quotes (Christina Hoff Sommers) is one of the leading critics of the anti-male strain of feminism, or is he being disingenuous? I can't imagine she'd miss the chance to blame overzealous feminists for this problem if she thought they were at fault. Perhaps if he'd done some research (as Fritz did) before he exercised his knee-jerk liberal media bashing, he wouldn't sound so whiny.

Whenever someone makes a possibly foolish general statement about colleges, I always ask myself "Would that be true at Texas A&M?" A&M, for those not familiar, is a true bastion of nonliberalism, and with their legendary reverance for the Corps of Cadets, it's quite friendly to the Y chromosome. As it happens, A&M is a rare Texas public school with more men than women, though a closer look at the numbers indicates that the entire difference and then some is accounted for by the College of Engineering, which in Fall 2000 had 7800 men and 1900 women. The overall enrollment figures would tend to support Reynolds' thesis that men are avoiding college environs which are hostile to them, though I note that A&M still has a higher attrition rate and lower graduation rate for men than women.

I was going to compare A&M's numbers to those of California-Berkeley for grins, but I couldn't find them for Cal. You can find all sorts of data about the graduation rates of the various racial groups, but I failed to locate any such data broken down by gender. For what it's worth, the notoriously PC Berkeley is only slightly majority female.

In any event, thanks in part to people like Sommers, more attention is being paid to the growing disparity between boys' and girls' academic acheivements. Whatever is causing this trend - and as Fritz notes, there are a number of factors - it does need to be understood and dealt with.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 26, 2002 to National news