Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sound the Alarm--the Girls are Catching Up

I've been irritated all week by the Portland Press Herald's series on the "Gender Gap" in education--referring to the fact the males are statistically falling slightly behind females in college enrollment and academic achievement. 
One article states:
Today, while men still hold 64 percent of full-time teaching jobs at four-year colleges, the pendulum is swinging the other way. At USM, for example, 11 of the 21 sports teams are female, the women's studies program just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and last year female students at USM earned 64 percent of the degrees awarded.
Implying that having more sports and a women's studies program means that "the pendulum" (a phallic image if I ever heard one) is swinging the other way.  I'd be interested to see an investigation of how the degrees are split up by gender--business majors, early childhood education majors, english majors, chemistry majors, etc--and how the earning power of those degree recipients measure up, since even though women are taking over the colleges we still only earn $0.73 for every male dollar.
OK, it's important to keep in mind that Maine's population according to Census 2000 is 51% female and 49% male, so it makes sense that the female enrollment would be higher if all things were equal.
The article goes on to talk about the inherent classisim in this divide (although it's not, of course, identified as such):

On campuses in Maine and across the country, the dwindling percentage of male students is sounding alarms. In the University of Maine System, the enrollment gap reached 63 percent women to 37 percent men in 2004.

The gender divide is close to even at elite private colleges such as Bates, Bowdoin and Colby.

So more women are enrolling at cheaper state universities, but it's business as usual at the private colleges.

Most irritating of all is the implication that Somebody Should Do Something to make sure the poor guys don't fall behind.  This kind of thinking is like providing affirmitive action for white folks.  What's so scary to people about women succeeding?  When men make up the majority at colleges and are doing well, there are no week-long investigative reports to explain why (unless it's International Women's Day). 

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