Colleges Need Quotas Favoring Men?

Female privilege versus male privilege

Female privilege versus male privilege

By  @ The Ms. Magazine Blog

Every year as a new school semester begins, someone writes an ominous article about the fact that more women are graduating from college these days than men.

The latest hand-wringing salvo comes from famed anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, and it’s a doozy. Schlafly wrote on World Net Daily that not only is this imbalance bad for men, but also for women, since a dearth of males on campus puts a crimp in women’s plans to find husbands, leading them instead to pursue meaningless sex. Schlafly writes:

Anybody who understands human nature realizes that this situation changes behavior. Girls do not want to get left out in the cold, so they compete for men on men’s terms. This results in more casual hookups that are dead-end encounters with no future and no real romantic relationships.

Never mind the fact that the days of going to college to get your MRS are long over. Now that women can pursue careers beyond nursing, teaching and typing, they are taking advantage of the education they need. And when they do get married, it’s usually after they’re done with school. And some studies show that people who marry later in life tend to stay together, which increases social stability.

More outrageously, Schlafly claims this gender ratio is responsible for all the sexual assaults that are suddenly happening on campuses nationwide:

“The imbalance of far more women than men at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made news in the last couple of years,” she writes, completely ignoring the fact that the reason there have been so many scandals lately is that victims are no longer keeping quiet about what’s happening to them or letting cagey administrations sweep everything under the rug.

Her solution to this problem? Quotas that favor men, and less financial aid. Iran has been trying the former since 2012, arguing that women don’t need a university education to be wives and mothers. That’s despite the fact that Iran was one of the few countries in the world where the majority of STEM majors were female. It is no accident that the first woman to win the Fields Medal, a prestigious math prize, comes from that country.

Ironically, part of Schlafly’s argument for quotas is about the STEM gender gap in this country, which favors men. She states that since girls tend to score lower on the math portion of the SATs, they are not as well prepared for STEM majors as are boys. This is not untrue, which is why there’s been a big push to get middle and high school girls interested in number professions during the last decade. But in the end, quotas wouldn’t change the STEM gap, it would make it worse.

Schlafly’s argument is part of the larger trend of discussion on the “war on boys” in education, which unfortunately comes, more often than not, with a heaping side of sexism.

Back to gender ratios in colleges, Schlafly is not wrong that female graduates outnumber males, even though The New York Times story she is sourcing appeared five years ago. But a look at the numbers show that it’s a little more complicated than she thinks. A study by the Pew Research Center last year showed that more Asian (83 percent), Latino (62 percent) and African American (57 percent) men enrolled in college in 2012 than they did 20 years ago. Only the rate of white men has remained the same, at 62 percent. So in effect, even after figuring in the white men, the number of men attending college hasn’t shrunk, but grown.

What’s skewing the ratio is that more women are enrolling than ever before, with 76 percent of Latina, 72 percent of white, 86 percent of Asian and 69 percent of African American women going to college in 2012.

That ratio doesn’t apply to top-tier schools. The Ivies showed a much more even ratio in the class of 2018, with some, like Harvard (55 to 45 percent), and Princeton (51 to 48 percent) accepting more men than women.

MRAs blame feminism for problems caused by patriarchy

MRAs blame feminism for problems caused by patriarchy

But at the end of the day, why is the fact that more women are going to college than men such a bad thing? And why should their success be punished by denying them access? Haven’t women fought hard enough for an education, and stepped up when they got the opportunity to get one? Can’t we help the men without hurting the women?

Sadly, part of the argument against having more women in college relies on the notion that they don’t really deserve to be there. Schlafly points out that the better grades girls usually get in school are not necessarily due to smarts, because they consistently score lower on standardized tests than boys.

The insinuation is that girls get good grades mostly because they are better behaved than boys, not because they do better work. It’s a nasty dig, particularly when paired with the fact that the majority of K-12 teachers are women.

These women teachers, critics like Christina Hoff Summers say, are discriminating against naturally rambunctious boys by demanding that they sit still in class. Since girls are, allegedly by nature, much better at being placid, they are rewarded. And worse, this squashing of boys’ natural exuberance—often with prescription drugs—has become more pronounced in the last 20 years, as the women’s movement has gained momentum and feminized the educational system with its dominant female teachers and their insistence on good behavior in class.

But women didn’t build the system. Yes, teaching has been a woman-dominated profession in this country since the 19th century, when Western Expansion allowed educated women to make their own money in a respectable fashion. But the expectation that pupils must sit still and pay attention is not some recent emasculating feminist conspiracy. Since antiquity, teachers have cracked down on pupils who act out in class, only not with Ritalin but with beatings.

The most masculine education systems in this country—military and parochial—have little-to-no tolerance for pupils of either gender acting up in class. Self-control is both valued and expected. Learning to work in a unit, to accept one’s place in the hierarchy, and taking responsibility for one’s actions are seen as crucial to success, as part of being an honorable man.

So why is it that when girls do these things in public school, they are derided as obedient little robots who don’t deserve their grades?

We should be lauding them for working so well within the system that rejected them for so long. What we shouldn’t do is discourage them or punish them because the boys aren’t enrolling in college as much as they are, even if it means their romantic prospects are delayed.

It’s too bad Schlafly can’t get on board with that.

Reposted from The Ms. Magazine Blog with permission. You might also like these posts from The Ms. Magazine Blog

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 28, 2015, in feminism, men, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Matthew Cleveland

    I think that clearly putting a quota in would unfairly punish woman, but there should be some type of positive incentive to attempt to raise the number of men enrolling in college. One thing specifically that wasn’t touched on in this blog post was where the gender gap is coming into play. Currently the gender gap is biggest in impoverished areas and among minority groups. I think there needs to be a campaign to encourage these men to go to college and gain more skills, especially in a world where menial physical labor is becoming less viable as a means to support oneself. I think incentivizing more of those men to go to college is a necessity, though not through programs which would unfairly punish woman.

  2. This was very good ~ there is nothing better than a great woman, and I think there are many more of those out there than great men 🙂

    • Well I don’t know if there are more great women then great men. But men are less likely to go to college because they think they can do okay without it. And in the US a high school educated man makes only slightly less than a college-educated woman, so they are right. But people make choices and there’s no reason to punish women for making more of an effort.

  3. D#mn white male patriarchal system keeps oppressing/repressing them!

    They hate it and yet the overwhelming majority of them still want to exclusively marry,have sex and reproduce with us. Oh well I guess were good for something at least 😦

  4. Geez. Now they’re blaming women teachers for the drugging of boys and by extension less men graduating from uni? As you said, they used to beat them and now they drug them…it’s more about the education system than anything else. As for Phyllis’s hilarious reasons as to why educated women are a problem…ffs.

  5. Dear friend wish you a good new week with love around you,
    a large hug from Herluf.

  6. In our country too, the number of girls going to college are gradually increasing. Thankfully, no one yet has raised voice against it….

  7. Gee, I didn’t know she was still alive. I could get incensed by her, again, or I can just realize that I don’t need to worry about the opinions of sexist, bigoted antiques (and go on about my day.)

    • Well by all means, go on about your day!

      But I think it’s important to talk about it because I know at least one woman who believes she has a feminist mindset, and does in many ways, and yet I’ve heard her make argument something like this. So these ways of thinking do you have effects and it is important to address them.

      • Didn’t mean it as criticism, and, yes, it requires discussion. But I find it difficult to enter into rational discussion about a woman who really thinks that men need quotas into colleges so that there will be men there for our girls to marry! (Lest they otherwise fall prey to promiscuity.) What whacked universe is this from?

      • Yeah, she is pretty crazy.

        She is also a hypocrite. She is an attorney and public figure and yet she says women’s places in the home. “Do as I say, not as I do!”

  8. interesting article! I was always an average student but got my degree… wasn’t looking for a husband at college and enjoyed myself tremendously being totally celibate. didn’t meet my soul mate until I was 26, got married at 29 and am totally content and happy!

  9. Interesting Georgia. Coincidently, I read a piece on the BBC news website this morning about how Pakistan are thinking about introducing a quota for men in their medical schools. The problem there, according to the article, is that a far greater majority of women than men qualify to get into medical school, however once they attain their degree a large percentage of them do not work but go straight to having families.

    I found it odd that instead of increasing the incentive for women to work in the medical profession, they think it is a better idea to prevent so many women going to medical school in the first place.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-34042751

    • I guess we are seeing the unconscious internalization there. When you have a very “traditional” mindset, I guess that’s what seems to make sense to them. But you would think you would want people to be doctors who are most interested and gifted in the field, so their approach seems kind of crazy.

  10. I see this as part of the propaganda push that is going on in the US. When unemployment increases in a country it seems women’s rights and roles get redefined into homemakers. At least it has been so until now. Women, themselves, often seem to embrace the idea. I know the psychology but still do not understand it.

    Here in Norway, unemployment has started rising. We have been kept up by our oil money but the devastation in other countries is beginning to catch up with us. I wonder if we, too, will join the age-old trend. Probably.

    • Norway, one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation. With any luck they will be a trailblazer.

      I guess the pattern works the way you describe because it’s so common to internalize the idea that men are the breadwinners and women are the caretakers, so that it is easy to revert back to that. And the psychology seems to work that way because we unconsciously internalize the patterns we see when we are young, and most typically that pattern has been men as breadwinners and women as caretakers. I’m not sure if that pattern has been disrupted enough in Norway to create a difference when times get tough.

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