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Prediction: No 2017 graduation speaker will mention this – the growing ‘gender college degree gap’ favoring women
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Now that we’re at the beginning of college graduation season, I thought it would be a good time to show the updated chart above of the huge college degree gap by gender for this year’s College Class of 2017 (data here). Based on Department of Education estimates, women will earn a disproportionate share of college degrees at every level of higher education in 2017 for the eleventh straight year (since 2007 when women first earned a majority of doctoral degrees). Overall, women in the Class of 2017 will earn 141 college degrees at all levels for every 100 men (up from 139 last year), and there will be a 659,000 college degree gap (up from 610,000 last year) in favor of women for this year’s college graduates (2.26 million total degrees for women vs. 1.6 million total degrees for men). By level of degree, women will earn: a) 164 associate’s degrees for every 100 men, up from 154:100 last year (female majority in every year since 1978), b) 135 bachelor’s degrees for every 100 men (female majority since 1982), c) 140 master’s degrees for every 100 men (female majority since 1987) and d) 109 doctoral degrees for every 100 men, up from 106:100 last year (female majority since 2007).
Over the next decade, the gender disparity for college degrees is expected to increase according to Department of Education forecasts, so that by 2026, women will earn 150 college degrees for every 100 degrees earned by men, with especially huge gender imbalances in favor of women for associate’s degrees (187 women for every 100 men) and master’s degrees (140 women for every 100 men).
MP: The huge gender inequity in higher education for the Class of 2017 is nothing new — women have earned a majority of US college degrees in every year since 1982 and since then have earned an increasingly larger share of college degrees compared to men in almost every year, so that men have now become the “second sex” in higher education. Despite the huge and growing “degree gap” over the last 35 years in favor of women, there are still almost 200 women’s centers on college campuses around the country (list here), some receiving public funding, most with the stated goal of “promoting (or advocating) gender equity” and promoting “women’s success.” Here are some examples:
The University of Minnesota’s Women’s Center advances equity for women students, staff, faculty, and alumnae across identities by increasing connections for women’s success, cultivating socially responsible leaders, and advocating for organizational culture change toward excellence for all.
The University of Virginia Women’s Center educates U. Va. students in how to create change in self, community, and the world by providing programs and services that advocate gender equity.
The Duke University Women’s Center is dedicated to helping every woman at Duke become self-assured with a kind of streetwise savvy that comes from actively engaging with the world. We welcome men and women alike who are committed to gender equity and social change.
The mission of the University of Idaho Women’s Center is to promote and advocate for gender equity on campus and in the community through programs and services that educate and support all individuals in building an inclusive and compassionate society.
The University of North Carolina Women’s Center (The Center for Gender Equity) strives to be a leader on efforts and initiatives related to gender equity.
Even though the publicly stated goal of almost every Women’s Center is “gender equity,” there seems to be a very selective concern about gender equity, with no concern at all about the gender inequities at every level of higher education favoring women to the point that men have clearly become the “second sex” in higher education. There is also apparently no willingness for any of these women’s centers to close down even though gender equity in higher education was achieved 35 years ago (for college degrees), and there is no question that women are now much more successful than men in terms of both completing college and earning degrees at all levels from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees.
Here apparently is the standard approach to the goal of gender equity:
Rule A: Any outcome where women statistically represent less than 50% of a population (or if the women’s softball field bleachers are inferior to the boy’s baseball field bleachers) is a case of gender inequity, sexism, and/or discrimination that must be addressed with government investigations, awareness, public funding for women’s centers, legal action, regulation, legislation (Title IX), scholarships for women, etc. to correct the gender imbalances, with the ultimate goal apparently being gender parity.
Rule B: Any gender imbalance where women represent more than 50% of a population (e.g., higher education at all degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees; degrees in certain fields like biology, psychology, veterinary science, nursing, education, etc.) isn’t really gender inequity, or at least it is gender inequity that doesn’t really count and can be completely ignored because those statistical gender disparities are a natural outcome of women being more talented than men, or naturally more interested/motivated than men in certain fields of study and careers.
Like in “Animal Farm” both genders are equal but……….
Exhibit A: Taxpayer-supported University of Michigan-Flint annually gives out three faculty awards that are only open to female faculty members: a) the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Junior Women Faculty Award, b) the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Senior Women Faculty Award, and c) the Dorothea E. Wyatt Award (this awards alternates between female faculty and female staff members). In all three cases, these awards blatantly discriminate against male faculty and staff members (men
need not apply… cannot apply), and brazenly grant special preferences for female faculty and staff members, in pretty clear legal violation of the Michigan Constitution (as amended by Proposal 2 in 2006):
Sec. 26. (1) The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
Q: Can you simultaneously be in favor of: a) gender equality and equal treatment for both genders, and b) special treatment and gender favoritism for female faculty and staff, and still be intellectually and legally consistent? A: I think the answer is NO.
It’s like the joke about the teenage son who tells his father “Dad, I want to grow up and be a musician.” The father says, “Well, son, you’re going to have to make a choice.” Likewise, you have to make a choice: either you support true gender equity and oppose gender favoritism, or you support a double-standard of gender favoritism and oppose true gender equity. Perhaps the problem is that gender discrimination against men and gender favoritism towards women have become so ingrained, internalized and institutionalized in higher education that most students, faculty, administrators, staff, taxpayers, politicians, alumni and donors don’t even see it as a problem when universities discriminate against men and actively promote preferential treatment for women. Even when that gender discrimination and gender favoritism is possibly illegal in some cases according to the Michigan Constitution?
Bottom Line: Now that there’s a huge (and growing) college degree gap in favor of women such that men have become the “second sex” in higher education, maybe it’s time to stop taxpayer funding of hundreds of women’s centers that promote a goal of gender equity that was achieved 35 years ago in higher education, at least in terms of earning college degrees? And perhaps the selective concern about gender imbalances in higher education should be expanded to include greater concern about the new “second sex.” And perhaps the illegal discrimination against men for faculty awards at public universities in Michigan should stop.