A panel of civil rights investigators plans to begin reviewing admissions data to determine whether “female students have become so plentiful in higher education that institutions have entered a new era of discrimination against them.” The investigation focuses on D.C. schools, but the Washington Post also mentions data from William and Mary, Vassar, Swarthmore, and—shocker—Wesleyan, which in 2008 admitted 30 percent of its male applicants but only 25 percent of females. No word on the discrepancy in last year’s applicants. From the Washington Post:
Over the past 40 years, women have gone from underrepresented minority to overrepresented majority on U.S. college campuses, where they outnumber men by a proportion approaching 60-40. Barriers that kept women from college have been swept away, and scholarly focus has shifted to the impediments facing men, who are more likely to drop out of school and more apt to go into the military, manual-labor jobs or prison.
It’s no secret that way more women than men apply to liberal arts colleges—after all, liberal arts are totally girly subjects conversely, men are incredibly overrepresented in engineering/technology schools’ admission—but the degree to which it reflects in admissions data at Wes is still pretty striking. Whether it should be questioned as a civil rights issue, or regarded as more or less valid than race-based affirmative action, however, is worth discussing.
Edit: Wesleyan’s data is not the subject of the study, but it is quoted in the article and obviously relevant to the discussion.