College gender gap stabilizing
The gender gap in higher education may be stabilizing, according to a new report from the American Council on Education.
It also appears that a 57-43 female majority may be here to stay.
The report, "Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2010," finds that the share of men in undergraduate education nationwide has leveled off around 43 percent after decades of steady decline. The share of men slipped slightly from 44 percent in the 1995-96 academic year to 42 percent in 2003-04, then inched back up to 43 percent in 2007-08, the most recent year studied. And there, perhaps, it will stay.
The share of bachelor's degrees attained by men, too, has stabilized at 43 percent.
Men once dominated higher education, mostly because of artificial barriers that barred many women from collegiate study. Those barriers gradually fell away; women caught and then surpassed men as a share of the collegiate population.
Men, by contrast, face very real barriers -- and alternatives -- to college entry and completion, being overrepresented in the military, special education, manual labor and prison populations.
Now, gender balance is becoming a concern at some schools. Vassar College, Wesleyan University, the College of William and Mary and others receive many more applications from women than from men. Admit rates are lower for women than for men at some schools, prompting talk of possible gender bias in admissions.
Federal civil rights investigators this winter initiated an investigation into admission practices at more than a dozen Washington-area colleges, looking for evidence of potential gender discrimination.
Nationally, the only gender group still declining as a share of the college population is Hispanic males: the share of Hispanic undergraduates 24 or younger who were male declined from 45 percent in 1990-2000 to 42 percent in 2007-08. Hispanic young men also had the lowest bachelor's degree rate of any demographic group studied, 10 percent.
"Raising the attainment rate of Hispanic men -- and women -- looms as one of the most significant challenges facing American education," said Jacqueline King, assistant vice president of ACE's Center for Policy Analysis and author of the study.
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Daniel de Vise
January 25, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Access , Admissions , Liberal Arts , Research | Tags: College of William and Mary, academic research, access, admissions, gender bias
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