Some applicants are more equal than others

Hey, remember when Sonya Sotomayor was first nominated for the Supreme Court, and the White Dude Cabal attempted to claim that having one fucking Latina justice ever was an outrageous act of racism and sexism, and every thinking person in America was furious that the WDC was unable to distinguish between the concepts of “shameful oppression” and “owning only 99.99 percent of everything”? Tom Mortenson, of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, missed that day. On NPR yesterday, he had the following to say about the fact that women have overtaken men in college admissions, with the result that some colleges are now discriminating against female applicants:

Mortenson: They graduate from high school at higher rates than men do. They go on to college at higher rates. They complete college at higher rates. And I see nothing right now that’s going to turn that around.

It’s so unfair! Maybe 150 years ago, men were the only people allowed in college, and now they’re not only forced to share, they’re getting outstripped? Someone needs to do something! What could make those ladies stop submitting strong college applications and getting accepted? Quick, deploy a fashion magazine!

Let’s not forget here that we’re talking about higher education — a pursuit that, just a hundred or so years ago, people thought would overload women’s fragile little mind-meat like botulism in a can of soup. Some people thought education would give women brain fever, whatever that is. But when instead of obediently falling down in fits, educated women start clawing their way to equality and beyond, the menfolk (and even some womenfolk, like a dean of admissions interviewed by NPR) apparently get the vapors.

Mortenson: And the people who work on these campuses say that boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.

Yeah, the Beach Boys beg to differ.

Seriously, do we really have to be saying things like “correcting an inequality is not the same as gaining an advantage”? Okay, maybe we have to say that to Pat Buchanan, but do we have to be explaining to researchers and college administrators that when someone climbs out of the howling canyon of disadvantage, you don’t really have to put your shoe on their face? This is like saying that if your broken left arm heals, you should probably rebreak it, because it’s going to get an edge on your right one.

Note to the Dudes in Charge: I understand that it throws you off balance when the people you’ve been standing on finally stand up. But that doesn’t mean you get to kneecap them.

165 thoughts on “Some applicants are more equal than others

  1. “And I see nothing right now that’s going to turn that around.”

    And that is such a damn shame. It’s terrible to see all those privileged white men have to share–next thing you know, they might have to treat us like actual humans.

  2. Yeah, I heard that segment. And I also did a doubletake at “boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.” lol wut? why?

    Because after “OMG teh fragile wimminz!” comes “OMG yoo will distract the menz!”

  3. Argh. I hate this shit. My reaction to the flailing and hand-waving and shrieking about girls outperforming boys crap is a big fat: “So the fuck what?” And when I hear about men being favored over women in college admissions in order to right some terribly unjust four percent-or-so gender imbalance I want to stab and stab. Hey, look ladies! We gained a tiny bit of ground here! But now you need to be 250% awesome in order to compete with guys who are only 50% awesome + penis.

    My favorite argument in this vein is that schools are better environments for girls to learn in because being passive and obedient just comes so naturally to wee-ladies’ brains, and those creative, energetic, disruptive boys just don’t learn well in that setting. You know, that setting that was originally designed to educate only white boys. *headdesk*

    (Must add that I think the way schools function in the US is completely shitty and detrimental to everyone’s growth and learning, so in no way am I defending the current system. Just that ass-backwards argument makes me punchy).

  4. I’d be curious about what those boys who drop out or don’t go to college are going on to do. This disparity in education doesn’t seem to be creating a similar disparity in other walks of life. I don’t suppose it’s possible that more women feel compelled to complete higher levels of education than men do because they see fewer avenues of success open to them?

  5. @Michelle Galo – and you will also hurt their fee-fees if they are outperformed by any vagina-americans. Can’t have that.

    Dear men who want to go to college,

    Get better grades. And no one likes a whiner.

    Sincerely,
    Me

  6. Well, women have had to actually work to get what they want, whereas men (of a certain socioeconomic and racial background) have largely skated by on doing the bare minimum. The biscuit wheels have officially fallen off the academic gravy train for men and now they’ll actually have to put in some effort in order to pull even with women, who have often been working twice as hard for half the recognition.

    The answer isn’t to hold women back, it’s to tell men to suck it up. Hard work builds character, and all that jazz.

  7. Yeah, the presence of woman definitely diminishes men’s capacity to succeed in college! We’re all just too interested in inseminating things to read text books! Our brains are willing, but our pee pee canons simply aren’t. Please, stop distracting us, so that we men may focus on our studies. >:[

  8. Thanks for this. I teach remedial English to a classroom full of young college men (22 men out of 24 students) because all the women place out of basic composition. I’d really like to do away with male enrollment so we could get on to teaching smart women smart things.

  9. I’d be curious about what those boys who drop out or don’t go to college are going on to do. This disparity in education doesn’t seem to be creating a similar disparity in other walks of life.

    I wonder about this as well. Though a quick scan of the help ads in my community denotes there are many jobs in certain “traditionally” male sectors (construction, etc) requiring little education and seem to pay as much as masters level human services jobs, which are often traditionally held by females.

  10. pee pee canons

    So I think this is a typo, but in the context of discussing higher education, it has potential for extremely erudite hilarity.

  11. “Yeah, the Beach Boys beg to differ”

    Hah! Great line in a great post. Note from an old woman: it was actually Jan and Dean who sang “Two girls for every boy” in “Surf City” and clearly that ratio wasn’t a problem for them, either.

    I think what marvelous opportunities for humility, self-re-evaluation, and personal growth these poor outnumbered boys have on college campuses. It’ll be good for them.

  12. Can I just take this moment to give mad props to our rightfully college educated fillyjonk for that simile in the third paragraph? “like botulism in a can of soup”. Poetic and offputting at the same time. Genius.

    As for the rest of it, fucking rights women are excelling more at applying for college institutions, for reasons that extend beyond mere intellectual achievement, though I’m sure that’s a big part of it. What is the other main part of applying to college? Extra curricular activities. Poll any average high school girl and high school boy, correcting for the percentage of geeks in both pools, and I would bet that you’d find the girls more invested in more kinds of after school activities and volunteering than the boys. For whatever reason (less emphasis on sports, a push towards having ‘feminine’ traits like compassion and the ability to multi-task, a socially encouraged desire amongst young girls to be group minded and participate in group activities), I know that more girls than boys were on the school paper, were in the school band, and had the leads in the school drama productions at MY high school, not to mention the soup kitchens or time spent down at the local pound or SPCA. I’d be interested to see if that’s the case for others.

    So on that note, when women start excelling in areas that are TRADITIONALLY OUTLINED FOR THEM BY THE SOCIETY THAT WANTS TO KEEP THEM OUT OF COLLEGE, and all of a sudden they’re punished for it when it starts having unintended consequences? I call major shenanigans.

  13. “Note to the Dudes in Charge: I understand that it throws you off balance when the people you’ve been standing on finally stand up. But that doesn’t mean you get to kneecap them.”

    *clapclapclapclapclap!*

  14. *scream* its the “feminism hurts men! thats sexist!” argument, dressed in different clothes.
    My poor desk has a forehead dent in it.

  15. fillyjonk for the win! for Animal Farm reference *and* the Beach Boys, in the same post.

    i just happen to be in the mood to chortle my ass off over both, so well done. i heart me some fillyjonk.

  16. also, lucizoe:
    “Hey, look ladies! We gained a tiny bit of ground here! But now you need to be 250% awesome in order to compete with guys who are only 50% awesome + penis.”

    this comment is made entirely of awesome. thank you.

  17. There was almost a Real Genius reference too but it was getting too cumbersome in a way that would make sense to anyone who hadn’t seen the movie.

  18. I think it’s worth pointing out the guys getting rejected aren’t super rich whiners. The ones who can’t afford college prep and private school are the ones not making it. It’s more complicated than men vs. women (just -ahem- like it’s more complicated than skinny vs. fat). I’d wager that most of the men getting passed over aren’t all that privileged.

    While it’s certainly fun to pretend that little Lord Fauntleroy is crying into his caviar over the rejection letters after sliding by his whole life not doing any work and just getting everything handed to him, I doubt that’s going on.

    But then again I think college admissions in general need to be overhauled.

  19. Colleen, I dunno. Women are under-privileged in ways besides gender issues at just the same amount that men are. It’s more complicated than just gender for men and women. It’s not like all women are white and able bodied and straight and upper middle class and that’s why they’re outstripping men.

  20. @lucizoe – Heh. I teach freshman composition most semesters, and usually the “Oh noes! What about the poor outclassed boys?” news stories are being rehashed in the campus paper right around the beginning of the semester. I take no small end of delight in pointing out the double dose of sexism (Women can’t do well in school! Women are doing well in school SO CLEARLY THERE IS SOMETHING UNJUST ABOUT SCHOOL!!!) whenever one of the (inevitably white, well-off, and male) students starts to complain that the uni “discriminates” against his gender.

    The argument itself, however (that the educational system is flawed not because of it’s actual, you know, flaws, but because women are doing marginally better and slightly outnumber men) makes my head explode with rage. I am all in favor of fixing the problems that exist, but women succeeding is not in and of itself a problem!

  21. At my university (Melbourne, Australia) we had a funny “glitch” in the system which “hid” how many women were getting into med school. For some reason, anyone who forgot to mark the fe/male box, or had a name which wasn’t obviously girly – all these people got marked in the university census as being male – this is obviously the default position of some computer programmer somewhere. So it took quite a while to realize that there were (and are) more women getting into med school than men.

    Unfortunately (from my perspective as a feminist, at least) the women are not evenly spread, but tend to ‘cluster’ in some areas more than others. I would LOVE to see women taking over the surgical college, but so far that just isn’t happening. Women disproportionately go into primary care and paediatrics – and guess which are two of the lowest paid areas of medicine? And yes, surgery would be the highest.

  22. And the people who work on these campuses say that boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.

    OFFS.

    First, there is some part of me that is extremely irritated that we’re suddenly worrying about this when the gender balance is this way around instead of the other (this coming from a ladystudent at a school that is, no joke, 80% boyfolk, where the potential negative impact of this ratio is pretty much laughed off by most of the people there). Like, when women go, “Maybe it’s damaging to be so outnumbered by men in the classroom” the response is “Oh, so you women can’t compete with us menfolk, eh? Poor little girls need to be catered and talked down to with their silly little frill brains!” and yet it’s apparently totally legit to go “Men feel uncomfortable when they’re outnumbered by women! We must SAAAAVE them! The cannot possibly achieve anything with so many damsels about!”

    Also, going to college is, quite frankly, the way many women have to prove themselves in order to be considered for positions that men can easily get without an education, because of course men are capable! But women have prove themselves all over the place and by 10x more qualified than the men going for the same job to be considered or find an in. So, you know, maybe that’s part of it.

  23. Other contributors to the pee pee canon that spring readily to mind (hah hah):
    Ernest Hemingway
    D.H. Lawrence
    Norman Mailer

    My classroom cannot be universalized. But my comp students are 8 women, 8 men. So far this semester, I have seen all 8 women for extra help on an least two and usually all of the assigned papers. They are making use of the campus writing center more frequently than the men.

    I’ve seen one man for help on all the papers, one for help on two, and two for help on one. None have been to he writing center as far as I am aware.

    I get more revisions from women after I have handed back graded papers with comments on each assignment as well.

    Which might explain why women are doing somewhat better in my class this semester.

  24. PS: I think that students from less privileged/ more marginalized backgrounds are more likely to use any and all help offered them than the moresos. I’m thinking bridge programs, writing centers, tutors and office hours. This seems to be the case across ability/ experience levels.

    I am hypothesizing that this may be because they don’t think what the moreso students seem to think, which is that you must be dumb if you use the writing center or tutoring services. Making a habit of asking for help pays off when it comes to long term improvement and skill acquisition, from everything I can see.

    So… again… why are women doing slightly better in school? Could it be because they are using all the resources available to them at higher rates? And this is a bad thing that they have figured it out?

  25. What I find fascinating is the logistical loops that people are jumping through to justify this, although 20 years ago, when the schools were 60/40 the other way, it was just how it was. Can’t they just say, “so effin what? We liberal arts schools simply are not appealing to men in the same ratios as we were.” Many of the articles I’ve read have pointed out places like MIT, and Cal Tech are doing just fine on the good old “traditional and natural” gender disparity, as are science and math and finance disciplines. Also I’m sure plumbers, construction workers and electricians aren’t exactly wondering where all the dudes went. I challenge all these article authors to sit in a physics PhD seminar…and then see if you are truly boggling at how sadly distracted from their studies the men were by all the sexy lady thighs they were having forced upon them (I’m guessing it’s going to be about .01% of the time).

    If we have got such a disparate and oppressive “glut” of women chugging through the pipeline, then I expect to see some articles about how men can’t get jobs or lose them when they have babies to feed or make less than I do, or for some reason can’t get their ED pills and vasectomies covered by insurance. Then I’ll start to play the world’s smallest violin to accentuate your oppression.

    I call foul on this whole, “boy’s crisis” b.s. I will accept there’s an education crisis, and I will even accept that men have never created a mainstream movement that allows them to acknowledge the oppression they suffer concurrent to women in living in a patriarchal, consumerist and reductionist society, that seeks to pigeonhole everyone, but the fact that all human beings suffer from societal standards which promote inequality does not mean in and of itself, that gains for one group are losses for another.

  26. When I went to college at Carnegie Mellon years ago, it was around 65% male. The interviewer told me that they needed “women who were strong in math and science.” During my four years there, the numbers began to balance out more, and by the time I graduated it was almost 50-50–and all the while I heard complaints from male friends and classmates about how “they let too many girls in, and they’re just getting in because they’re girls and they can’t do the work!” The number of insecure men I knew in school who couldn’t bare to share their precious alma mater with “girls,” was staggering. When I was outnumbered two-to-one by men in school, no one asked me if I was “not at my best” due to a gender gap. No one said “gee, she’s struggling in C++, but it’s got to be because her programming class is 80% male!” If anything, my professor was harder on me for NOT being a man, and had very little patience for my questions. The double standard here is staggering. The news that universities are starting to discriminate against female applicants is so terribly disheartening (and yet, why am I not surprised?). That there are talking heads out there trying to justify it is even more sickening. It reminds me of 1950s high schools in the U.S., when (at least according to my mother who was in one) female students were prohibited from taking advanced math and science because “they might distract the boys.”

  27. I think it’s worth pointing out the guys getting rejected aren’t super rich whiners. The ones who can’t afford college prep and private school are the ones not making it. It’s more complicated than men vs. women (just -ahem- like it’s more complicated than skinny vs. fat). I’d wager that most of the men getting passed over aren’t all that privileged.

    I would venture to guess the ones complaining most are white males. Otherwise this wouldn’t be a topic the media would find worth covering. From the legwork I’ve done, most problems aren’t really problems unless they’re inconveniencing white males. But I might just be bitter.

  28. It’s so unfair! Maybe 150 years ago, men were the only people allowed in college, and now they’re not only forced to share, they’re getting outstripped? Someone needs to do something!

    I find it troubling when people write as if the ages and ages of things being unfair to women means that it is okay, or right, to be unfair to men now. I am an individual, and I’ve been around for 35 years, not 3000.

    As for this particular girls-go-to-college thing, the reason for it is pretty obvious. It’s not that college admissions or the school system are unfair to boys. It’s that the employment system is unfair to women, and that women bloody well know that if they want to make the kind of money that a man fresh out of High School can make, or want to do work other than waiting tables or cleaning things, then they need a degree.

    If it was really the case that the education system was failing men, rather than them simply needing higher education less, then yes, somebody would need to do something. As it is, what somebody needs to do is provide more and more consistently available opportunities for less-educated women, so they can, like men, pursue higher education because they want to.

  29. ZOMG! Suddenly white dudes aren’t the only ones in the game and they might have to work at something in order to keep up?

    This is smashing good, FJ. Thanks!

  30. Snarkysmachine, I don’t have the stats to back me up, but I’m betting the farm that you’re right about the majority of complainers being white males. Those who are unaware of existing privilege are more likely to throw a tantrum when their power is threatened. Anecdotally speaking, all of students I knew on campus who complained about high numbers of female admissions were white men–then again, despite the large percentage of students of Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinent descent, I’d guess that the majority of students were white men anyway, so there are more of them to complain.

  31. It’s so unfair! Maybe 150 years ago, men were the only people allowed in college, and now they’re not only forced to share, they’re getting outstripped? Someone needs to do something! What could make those ladies stop submitting strong college applications and getting accepted?

    People just will not stop whining about this one! The extreme ones are all “Soon men will be relegated to the status of household pets” (seriously, I’ve seen this argument…and puh-lease, if we must have a gender flip–I’d rather we don’t, and I doubt we will–I hope men do more housework than my cats. I also resent the implication that at-home women throughout history were and are….like pets).

    And I think Time-Machine said it perfectly.

  32. Naw. Seriously. A woman needs a four-year college degree to enjoy lifetime earnings greater than that of a man with a High School diploma. A woman with an associates degree might actually equal a man with a HS diploma. When women need two or four additional years of education to break even with men in the workforce, it’s not a bit surprising that they are more likely to seek that education, and complete it. This is not a YAY for WOMEN! situation here. It’s more like, Oh, Great, women gotta spend at least two years and around what, six grand? to get the employment opportunities that men get from free public high school.

    http://www.incontext.indiana.edu/2009/mar-apr/article1.asp etc.

  33. Hm I just want to comment on one specific thing – this quote:

    “And the people who work on these campuses say that boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.”

    – Now, that this is a statistical study, just an anecdote, but a relative of mine went a high school where girls outnumber guys two to one at least, and he and his friends loved it. From what I could tell, the school didn’t discriminate, it just had really high academic standards, and did not tolerate ANY misbehavior. And I think something about either our society or our hormones or a combination of both causes boys to be statistically more likely to have behavioral problems or not reach their academic potential in their teens.

    And the boys there seemed perfectly happy. Besides the fact that it’s fun to be surrounded by girls when you’re a guy, it also created an atmosphere that was not full of social pressure to act out, be macho, do inappropriate things… And it also helped them learn to talk to girls, and how to treat women and be sensitive as well.

    I’m not trying to say girls are better than boys here, and we certainly should never discriminate based on gender. I’m just pointing out that in this example, the boys AND girls all seemed to benefit from the dynamic, and I thought that was rather interesting. And I also thought the fact that so many more girls met the academic and behavioral standards for this school was interesting as well.

    And, a sidenote – I teach a college course in a traditionally male dominated field. And my class is about 1/3 women, which is encouraging to see. (And I actually don’t see any problem with the fact that it’s not half and half. Nobody seems to mind this situation, of the women being outnumbered. I don’t think students care one way or another, as long as they are treated equally by the teachers.)

    Anyway… that was just some random rambling from me…

  34. I would like to be a household pet, please.

    Sounds fine to me. Personally, as a lady-type-person going into research, *I* would like to someday be a household name! ;p

  35. Because women are naturally more ambitious and don’t belong in the home. Obvs. :D (Nor, I’ve heard, do women like kibble nearly as much as men. True story.)

  36. I went to a college that had transitioned from all-gals to co-ed in the last 50 years, and the new president made it his mission to get more guys in there. So how do you market a small lib arts school, 80% women, with the largest majors being equine studies, education, and international studies to men? Western riding, scholarships, or interview the guys already there for tips? Nah. Hire your buddy from your old school, up him to head of the new *club* football team (seriously, this is a football state; if you’re interested in the sport there are 20 schools with championship varsity teams in walking distance), and tell all the local papers there are tons of lonely single gals just drooling for male companionship here. I wish I was exaggerating; the exact quotes are pay-per-view now but if I wasn’t already leaving, that probably would have done it. I think it was the first time I realized that The Girl wasn’t just a trope on TV. Some people can’t handle the “gender imbalance” in RL either.

  37. Miguel

    Yeah, the presence of woman definitely diminishes men’s capacity to succeed in college! We’re all just too interested in inseminating things to read text books! Our brains are willing, but our pee pee canons simply aren’t. Please, stop distracting us, so that we men may focus on our studies. >:[

    Miguel, I just wanted you to know that you’re my imaginary internet boyfriend of the day. Hope that’s okay with you.

  38. I always wonder if these douchebags think about the simplest reason ever that there might be more women than men doing any particular thing: there are more women than men full stop.

  39. Male persons – you’ll just have to do all those icky Engineering subjects where you still outnumber the girls! Also, FJ, I would have loved you even more had you worked that Real Genius quote in there, but even without it this was 110% awesomeness.

  40. Because after “OMG teh fragile wimminz!” comes “OMG yoo will distract the menz!”

    Summarises the entire issue and history nicely.

  41. Colleen, I dunno. Women are under-privileged in ways besides gender issues at just the same amount that men are. It’s more complicated than just gender for men and women. It’s not like all women are white and able bodied and straight and upper middle class and that’s why they’re outstripping men.

    It’s the prep-school crowd, remember, that is privileged to hearken back to the days before their women could work.

  42. Something in the zeitgeist about people as pets?

    Mad Men, this season, in Betty’s twilight stupor: “You’re a housecat. Very important with not much to do.”

  43. Can I just take this moment to give mad props to our rightfully college educated fillyjonk for that simile in the third paragraph? “like botulism in a can of soup”. Poetic and offputting at the same time. Genius.

    Just another reason why diet foods are a fail – the lower the sodium content, the higher the risk of Clostridium botulinum (botulism bacteria)! /threadjack

  44. I dunno. In a society that seems to do its best to enforce the unspoken rule that women grow up and get their stuff (and then some) done, while men stay little boys for their whole lives, why is this so surprising to many? Although there are plenty of men who pull their own weight at home, there are pleeeenty more who spend their time with the xbox, espn, and/or beer, leaving the wimminz to do all the work. So it seems to me that it would be logical that women would be more willing to go onto college, not just out of necessity, but just because we’re the ones who are expected to forge on and do things we don’t necessarily want to do (I love college but it’s not always a picnic) while the men do whatever.

    That being said, ethnic minority women (and minorities in general) are still VASTLY underrepresented in colleges and universities. So that tells me that sure, white women are finally crawling out of that chasm, but minority women still have the boot on their face.

  45. I’d just like to point out that this is a GREAT example to bring out in arguments about affirmative action.

    You’re against affirmative action, huh? Everyone should have equal chances but no better, huh? Then how do you feel about the current, well documented situation where men are being admitted into college with lower grades and test scores, HUH? Not fair, HUH????

    sigh.

  46. After I tried (and failed, sigh) to convince my teacher that the 51 percentage of female law-graduates (and they are good-looking, too!) do not actually mean that men need protection, this one definitely hits home.

    I agree with everything that has already been said re: women needing a higher education level to get the same vages, women knowing that they need to work harder, women taking help when they can.

    I would like to add that I find it laughable when people claim this is an issue of feminism hurting the poor men. To me, it is rather obviously a clear aspect of patriachy hurting men.

    The patriarchy still causes a majority of men (straight whited ones on particular) to be raised with the expectation of privilege. It is the system of patriarchy that leads to things like boys not being expected to be quiet, boys being expected to be “wild” etc. And in the classroom, boys who were raised that way can be disadvantaged in the sense that they were never taught to behave in a way that helps with learning in class. This was less of an issue when there were far more boys that girls, or when biased grading in favor of boys was the norm, but thanks to feminism, these things are changing. And yes, boys who were raised with these classical patriarchial values can find it hard to compete with girls who were epected to “behave” and “be quiet”. Similarly, young men who were raised to expect preferential treatment (though of course, they would never think of it as such), will find it hard to compete with women who know that they have to give a150% in order to be taken seriously. They will find that suddenly, being a man is no longer enough. And I am convinced that these are the men who complain. But that is not feminism discriminating against boys and men. It is the patriarchy not giving men the tools to win against women all the time when the playing field is actually level.

    Also, I agree with those who said that white, cis, straight men have to be the ones complaining. Not that there might not be men who belong to other minorities who complain about to many woman, but I highly doubt that they would make the news.

  47. I’d just like echo the folks above who said that while you here middle class white men complain about this, the actual disparities come from lower income and non-white folks. It’s a great example of the need for more complex analysis, at which the media inevitably fails – going for the OMG women are doing too well!! angle rather than looking at another marginalized group that needs help.

  48. Mortenson: And the people who work on these campuses say that boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.

    Those girls should really try not being so sexy.

  49. I find it troubling when people write as if the ages and ages of things being unfair to women means that it is okay, or right, to be unfair to men now. I am an individual, and I’ve been around for 35 years, not 3000.

    So I guess you also don’t believe in affirmative action because you weren’t around for slavery and Jim Crow?

    Sorry, but centuries of oppression actually do need to be balanced out. Not good enough to just say “hey, but we’ve got all-new people now, and most of them weren’t physically present when everything was outrageously, blatantly biased in their favor, so it’s really unfair to ask them to give up the advantage they’ve still got.”

    This is not some kind of sins-of-the-father thing. This is the scales taking a while to balance. Sorry you’re alive when things are slowly coming to equilibrium instead of when you would have gotten everything handed to you without question, but that’s the cost of justice.

  50. boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.

    ahahaha, yeah, and my buddy in the math department doesn’t do her best when she’s outnumbered ten to one by men (who talk over her and treat her like she’s stupid) in all her classes, but for some reason THAT doesn’t seem to be a national emergency.

    someone should tell these people not to worry – just because a situation has more women than men doesn’t mean, in my experience, that there will be more women talking than men. we’re still oppressed, dudes, no worries!

  51. Dayglow, who’s *surprised*? I don’t see surprise here, I see a whole lot of outrage. Just because people discuss something anew when another twit flaps his jaws about it doesn’t mean anyone is surprised.

    I pick on this because asking ‘Why are you surprised?’ is usually used as a silencing tactic. It doesn’t look like you meant it that way, but please be aware of how it can sound.

  52. I wonder if the cultural expectation that guys will misbehave and have trouble in classes has anything to do with the fact that most teachers on the elementary and often secondary school level are women, and masculinity requires not accepting the authority of women, especially if your buds are there to see you?

    Another for the ‘patriarchy hurts everyone’ files. Although my big sympathy here is for the teachers who deal with a lifetime of this, not for the boy children who nevertheless grow up and get paid more than their female counterparts.

  53. I’d just like echo the folks above who said that while you here middle class white men complain about this, the actual disparities come from lower income and non-white folks. It’s a great example of the need for more complex analysis, at which the media inevitably fails – going for the OMG women are doing too well!! angle rather than looking at another marginalized group that needs help.

    Yeah; I find that when you look at their complaints, the white, whiny middle class men who are complaining aren’t complaining about not getting to go to college or not getting the jobs they want because of it – they’re complaining about not getting into the particular college they want, as if it’s some sort of birthright to go to Yale if you want to. The actual disparity in numbers maybe is something to look at, because it probably means that more lower income boys are slipping through the cracks (maybe related to things like the high incarceration rate in some communities), but NEVER have I seen one of these articles address that aspect of things. It’s always “But this boy had good grades and didn’t get into his top choice school!!!”

  54. I work in a liberal arts college that was historically male. Because it has engineering as a huge part of the curriculum, we’re still about 50-50.

    Though I tell you, I think Admissions has had to work hard to get that number. It is true, in fact, that a school loses its ability to attract students if the gender balance goes off. If that happens, the whole school gets dumber. I’m not defending the unfair admissions, I’m just saying I understand.

    However, my department’s students are about 90% female, as are our study abroad programs. And what can I say about that? I. love. it. My smartest seminar ever has been a group of seven women. We ended up talking about feminist issues even though it wasn’t part of the syllabus–because the students were interested. I had a hard time letting them go at the end of the term!

    I’ve also applied to lots of women’s colleges for work because I really believe in them. And you know what? I lost those jobs to men, every time. That made me mad.

  55. Sorry to double post, but a read of the comments has made me think of all the horrible faculty emails on education.

    Some of the questions we ask students every year include:

    1. Do you feel that it’s not cool to be intelligent at the college?

    2. Do you wish other students cared more about. . . politics, religion, philosophy, culture, etc (several questions).

    3. Do you wish there were more intellectual events on campus after class hours?

    4. Do you think there’s too much emphasis on socializing on campus.

    Now I would pay good money to see those answers sorted by gender.

    I think maybe college admissions SHOULD settle out at 49/51 or 48/52, advantage girls, but I would like to speculate why they’re not.

    1. I think it’s very important to note than men can have “careers” with just a h.s. education in fields like construction and the military. Now, I actually know a woman electrician and several women in the military. It’s open to them too, just not as open.

    2. I think culture is teaching young men to be bad and be stupid. Period. The way masculinity gets represented in the media is both profoundly hateful toward women and damaging to young men’s ability to participate in the highly competitive, intellectual, polite (even PC) world of higher education. And I LOVE the college environment and I wish both genders were equally prepared for it by their early educations and culture. However, if it’s women students who are able to do the work and hear the message (especially of a liberal arts curriculum), so be it. Give me my unbalanced class of intelligent women.

    Anecdotally, I’d say that something on tv is telling men not to do their work on time. To generalize, female students always do their classwork, seek help when needed, and turn in major assignments on time. That goes a long way. I’ve had students do absolutely none of the work for the semester and hope to pass, but it’s always been male students.

  56. I very nearly went to an engineering college that had just started accepting women the year before. I suspect I really dodged a bullet there.

  57. One thing that I don’t think has really been brought up specifically yet, in the realm of ‘boys are raised to behave in ways that are not conductive to learning in a classroom setting’, is the huge difference in the ways that boys and girls with different GPAs are treated. If a boy has a low GPA, it’s ok; boys will be boys, he’s just rambunctious, he has more important things on his mind/schedule, etc etc etc. If a girl has a low GPA, she’s stupid, and omgz, why did we even let women into school again? She’s wasting resources, she must be a slut, she’s a pretty face and nothing else (or, better yet, she’s ugly and therefore of no worth whatsoever). Conversely, if a boy has a high GPA, he’s clever, possibly even an overacheiver; maybe he’s a nerd, a dork, he doesn’t like sports, he’s a pasty be-spectacled goody-goody. If a girl has a high GPA, she’s a good girl, a credit to her gender, she’s doing a good job of being appropriately invisible, she’s meeting expectations, maybe she’s even a ‘star pupil’. So there’s a lot more social motivation for girls to do better academically, with punishment for doing poorly and reward for doing well, whereas with boys there are excuses for doing poorly and indifference, even punishment, for doing well. Especially at the high school level this is true, which, of course, colors your college application. So there’s that to consider as well.

    Perhaps if not enough menz are getting into colleges, instead of kicking the ladies off the mountain, we should teach the men to be better climbers?

  58. I will accept the props but I am baffled by them. Animal Farm is pee pee canon, for goodness sake. Most people have to read it! So there’s no real surprise in being able to reference it.

  59. Lady Eve, Fellow CMU alum who probably went there around the same time you did!!!! (Same phenomenon. Were you there around the same time as Fro girl? I was a couple years after her. Perhaps we know eachother.)

    Even though there were more girls people were still calculating the Female to Dave ratio in a lot of classes, so I don’t know what people were complaining about.

  60. @ LilahMorgan – Yeah, I can’t tell you how crazy-making it is when clicks of journalists who all went to Harvard and Yale write about that world as ‘the world of higher ed’ – as if it’s more than a tiny fraction of people who go to college, let alone people who don’t, who are the ones we’re supposed to be worried about. (And yes, not locking up poor and minority men for non violent offenses would be an excellent place to start if anyone wanted to address this.) This has changed a bit since Obama ‘discovered’ community colleges, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

  61. I have been a tutor in university writing center for four years now (I swear, I’m about to graduate!) and I have to agree with AnthroK8 above. I see many many more girls than boys at the writing center. And the boys that do come in are much less willing to work with me on what’s wrong with their paper, and more often want me to “proofread” or “fix their paper.”

    I do think, though, that girls are socialized to be more verbal, and so maybe writing is seen as easier for them. We have this weird writing/math cultural divide where someone is good at either/or, and boys are “naturally” better at the math side of things, so of course they all suck at writing, amirite? I’m not saying this is actually true, but that’s the perception.

  62. Thank you so much for addressing this. I heard this on NPR as well yesterday and nearly went into a spitting rage.

    I’d love to find where I read this (I think it was a sample article in one of my rhetoric textbooks), but back when Newsweek published that article on the “boy crisis” in education, one rebuttal indicated that when you control for race and income, the gender gap goes away. In other words, white middle class boys are doing just fine compared to females. It’s their non-white lower income counterparts who are lagging behind.

  63. Starling, I completely agree with that bit about cultural expectations and male behavior in schools being related to having women as teachers probably being a huge influence. I have 4 wildly disproportionate classes right now, and I unfortunately sometimes think the tracking comes down far too much to gender. The two honors level classes have 28 girls and 2 boys each. The remedial level has 3 girls and 17 boys. And the middle of the road group has 19 boys and 7 girls, and the boys can at times be fairly rowdy, distracted, and unfocused.

    After reading their big term papers in the honors class, the girls don’t really strike me as so obviously academically superior that they should be outnumbering the boys in the honors class to the degree that they do—but the scores on their papers ARE better, in part because they took every single drafting and conferencing opportunity available. I can’t quite tell if it’s because they feel comfortable approaching me more than the boys do, or if it’s because they are really underconfident and approval seeking. Whichever of those reasons are the case, it’s working in their favor.

    And in the remedial class, I have several boys who could probably give the honors level work a go–in fact, we do some of the same work, just at a slower pace and with additional adult support. It strikes me, though, that I think a lot of them ended up in that class for behavior more than anything–not even terrible behavior—but they’re kind of big, kind of loud, have some trouble sitting still. It’s behavior that I can find irritating, and that I never would have done in school, but, you know, I was a girl. I have to work to seperate that from what they can actually DO and THINK about.

    I did a little mini-lesson at the beginning of the year when it suddenly occurred to me that I had to keep asking the boys to be quiet. . . turns out they just DO NOT KNOW how to whisper, so we girls taught them. I had two girls demonstrate, then one of the boys–the boys just drop their voices but are still talking aloud (and in a small classroom if a couple of boys are doing that it’s hard for people to concentrate).

    It made me sad that being completely unheard is a skill the girls had acquired perfectly. . .

  64. I’m tossing in a quick two cents, based off of what others have said:
    #1 – Women have fought for equality in the sense that they should be granted the same opportunities as men, which means that when they go to apply for college, admissions decisions should be based on the strength of their application, and not their gender.
    #2 – Any disparities in gender or race or socioeconomic background that become visible in pools of college applicants and attendees began way, way before those kids applied to college. They happen because of upbringing, environment, societal expectations, and opportunities that were made available to those people during their first 18 years of life. If you want to change the balance in colleges, you need to start there. Which just means the whole thing is a lot more complicated than what NPR is willing to address in their 5 minute segments (or however long they are).

    Ugh, I know I probably repeated what others have said, but I wanted to say it too!

  65. Not *all* science is male-dominated anymore. Vet schools and pharmacy schools are particularly woman-heavy. It’s interesting because most of the instructors are still male, but clearly that’s going to start turning around with a vengeance soon. (I hope.)

    “Pure” chemistry has a lot of men in it, at least where I am, but once you start applying that chemistry to medicine or zoology or microbiology, that starts to change pretty quick. And women in physics tend to be interested more in applied physics rather than the “build a giant huge expensive machine in the core of the Earth just for the fun of it” physics.

    I *generally* find the women in my courses to be more focused, to take grades more personally, and to pay closer attention to lectures than the men. Then again, I hang out with older women students, and we’re bound and determined to get through, no matter what, so undoubtedly that skews my perceptions.

  66. Vet schools and pharmacy schools are particularly woman-heavy. It’s interesting because most of the instructors are still male, but clearly that’s going to start turning around with a vengeance soon. (I hope.)

    We certainly can hope, but unfortunately more women in the profession doesn’t necessarily mean more women higher up. Library science has been heavily female almost from the beginning, but library directors and professors are still predominantly male and male librarians still get paid more in analogous positions. Male children’s librarians tend to be stigmatized as sissy and/or pedophiles, but they still get paid more; classic example of the patriarchy hurting both genders.

  67. Vet and Pharma are notoriously devalued, so it comes as no surprise they female heavy.

    When I was a kid my father was a medical librarian and we lived a decidedly Huxtable lifestyle. It wasn’t until I was much older I realized that gender pay disparities had more to do with this than his choice of career. He later went on to med school. Meanwhile, my mother who was a NURSE and brilliant was never encouraged to do the same.

  68. When my brother was growing up, he was always told that he could go to college if he wanted to, but he was never pushed into it and ended up joining the military. I, on the other hand, was told that I absolutely have to go to college if I wanted any kind of shot at being successful. My mom had to overcome a lot in her life to get where she was, including being the only female she knew while growing up that actually wanted a successful career over staying home to raise a family. I think that’s why she pushed me so much harder than my to get an education. My guess is this is the case for a lot of women of my generation who grew up with mothers that were held back, and fathers who never liked that the women around them had to work ten times as hard as them to be successful. They wanted to give their daughters opportunities that the women before them never had. So then you end up with a lot of girls who are working harder than boys because they are being pushed harder.

    I actually think that this will play out, 30 years from now, with women holding more advanced positions than men. The guys at the top of the field in veterinary medicine are probably the old, crusty guys from my parents’ generation, and they’ll be pushed out by the high-achieving women of my generation in the next decade or two.

  69. Not *all* science is male-dominated anymore. Vet schools and pharmacy schools are particularly woman-heavy. It’s interesting because most of the instructors are still male, but clearly that’s going to start turning around with a vengeance soon. (I hope.)

    I hope so too. I’m a PhD candidate in a biomed research field at a Big 10 school, and it seems like each year the female to male ratio of first-years increases a bit. We’ve also got a decent number of women faculty in my department and in general; the director of the umbrella program for biomed first-years is a woman (I think she’s also a biophysics prof).

  70. I was just counseling a friend of mine who is in her first year of teaching beginning comp at a state school. She is a tiny little person in the sense that she looks like she’s still a teenager even though she’s in her mid 20s. And she’s had all sorts of problems with this one student being disruptive, etc., until she finally took his cell phone away and threw him out of the room.

    He’s whinging in emails to her about how unfair it was, threatening to go to the chair, blah blah blah and she was ripping her hair out about how insane he was until I pointed out it’s because she’s a tiny little girl he thinks should not have power over him. It has little to do with his grade and everything to do with her embarrassing him in front of his buddies.

    I’ve done this dance numerous times with male students who resent women being tough and ordering them around (one of the rare cases where I’m grateful for my fat body, because it literally gives me weight to throw around and makes me more intimidating physically). I learned years ago that I had to set hard rules and enforce them right out of the gate, to the extent that I will be far more snappish and harsh in the first four weeks of term than at any other time, so I can establish where the line is of what I’ll tolerate in class. Otherwise the class will be out of control and useless.

    I fucking LOVE having classes that have more women than men. It’s relaxing, compared to warring with male egos every day. If you’re lucky a few of the male students will be both more mature and leaders and will help keep the class focused, but when there are enough women present it absolutely helps keep the male students from some of their more immoderate behavior because they don’t want to look like jackasses in front of their female peers. It’s the OPPOSITE of distracting. I know that’s close to a “women civilize men” argument and I don’t mean it’s universal but as an overall observation out of my own experience, guys behave differently around female peers.

    DRST

  71. If I could add one more ridiculous story to this lovely coverage of the BS going on in higher ed….

    I just completed a BASc and an MHSc in Nutrition at Ryerson University in Toronto Canada.

    Very few men go into nutrition and the field that nutrition typically leads to for many women-dietetics.

    Why don’t men go into nutrition? Well, one reason is that dietitians, although essential in a clinical setting (although I realize many spew BS about weight/bodies), are basically treated like worms. They are low on the prestige hierarchy which means not so attractive pay. Also, historically, nutrition education in higher ed was the only area in which women interested in science could have access to labs that were other wise reserved for men who were admitted to chemistry, biology, medicine, and physics programs.

    Anyway, the school of nutrition from which I recently graduated held a “men’s only” party to encourage the men currently in the program to bond. “Of course”, there was lots of beer served at the party. Women were invited to cheer on their male colleagues. BAARF!!

    Again, that was Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. If any one feels the need, feel free to drop them an email to tell them how you feel about this “attempt at correcting an inequality”.

  72. Hi,

    I work for a mid-sized private university. In the course of my job duties, I deal with reports about admissions applicants, look at numbers of on-campus residents, year-to-year retention rates, and so forth.

    One thing is consistent: more women apply than men, and of those women, more are qualified. Once they’re in the door, they’re more likely to stay than men — so the senior class has an even higher ratio of women to men than the freshman class.

    In the traditionally male-dominated fields like computer science, mathematics, physics, and so on, it’s less uneven: it’s about 50/50 right now in these programs.

    Qualifications for admissions are not “fuzzy” things like how much volunteer work you’ve done, either. They’re easily quantifiable things like SAT or ACT scores, and the female applicants are simply outperforming the male applicants in this area.

    Retention rates aren’t fuzzy, either, and the numbers are clear.

    There is plenty of speculation as to why this is; my personal theory is that boys are not taught skills that are important to succeeding in college. As male privilege erodes (at least in the college admissions & retention arena), these deficiencies will become more apparent.

    At first I felt a bit fearful of a future that seems to be full of uneducated, grunting, high-school-dropout males, but then realised that’s much better than having to deal with uneducated, grunting, degree-wielding males who didn’t earn it!

  73. Even with all these “advantages”, we as women are still getting paid less, promoted less often, and denied access to critical business relationships forged in the old boys’ network.

    FUCK. My FFIL (future father in law) is a full believer in this men’s rights BULLSHIT. He really thinks that schools conspire to put boys at a disadvantage so women can get our revenge for sexism.

  74. Then why are these women still earning 78 percent of what men earn in similar positions? Please explain that to me Pell Institute.

  75. I haven’t read *all* the comments, but someone mentioned affirmative action and this idea of mine has been cooking since I read the post this morning. Awesome post, btw, FJ!

    Here’s the problem. Gender isn’t a suspect class according to our judiciary. Not the way race is. If this were truly an affirmative action situation it would go to the courts and be given strict scrutiny for fairness and state interest.

    In United States v. Virginia when a woman applied to VMI she got shunted off to a local, private, all-girls college and given supbar academics and a military training dumbed down for women. Justice Ginsburg delivered the Opinion in which the Supreme Court stated that the publicly-funded VMI had better let women in OR create an equal institution specifically for women. Hmmm, that sounds suspiciously like something that was overruled many, many years ago…I wonder what it was.

    AND the biggest complaint from the menfolk was that they’d have to lower their rigorous standards so teh Ladiez could meet them. How about you raise your freaking expectations?

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the men have no legitimate cause of action in this situation, because there’s no such thing as female affirmative action. It seems to me, that the women are getting in on their merits, not because there’s a quota to fill. They’re much more interested in your race/ethnicity on an app. than your gender.

  76. fillyjonk: So I guess you also don’t believe in affirmative action because you weren’t around for slavery and Jim Crow?

    Sorry, but centuries of oppression actually do need to be balanced out.

    Hmm? I support affirmative action.

    Affirmative action does not ‘balance out’ centuries of slavery and oppression. I find that suggestion bizarre to the point of grotesque.

    Affirmative action, in its half-assed way, makes up for the fact that people who are living now are still oppressed. It isn’t about giving formerly oppressed people ‘their turn’ to be advantaged. It’s about trying to correct the way keeping people down wastes human genius because oppression makes it impossible for people to fully realise their natural talents. The kid from the demographic where he’s likely to have no academic help, be discriminated against grade-wise in school because of her skin colour, not have access to computers at home, have child-care responsibilities at home, hey, she deserves a leg up to compete with the kid who had a private fucking tutor and everything she needed and got half a grade point better. Because that disadvantaged kid is actually the better performer, all things considered. This has squat to do with the fact that her grandparents were more oppressed than she is. It has to do with the fact that she’s talented and all of us, including her, benefit if we leverage her ability to contribute to the human enterprise.

    These dips with the OMFG more girls in college! whinging are claiming that this phenomenon means that boys are disadvantaged in public school. I firmly believe this is false. If it were true, then these affirmative action-esque methods in college admissions would, in fact, be appropriate, because male bodies sometimes house human genius, too.

  77. @Jenna: When I was at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, some of the male students resurrected a ‘Gentleman’s Society’ that you could only belong to if you lived in a certain male dorm. Girls were only allowed to attend their parties as specifically invited dates.

    They strutted around for a while, very proud of their No Girlz Allowed! policy. When they did invite girls, they were extra condescending about the whole thing. Luckily though, most of the girls let them know they couldn’t care less about their special club and they wouldn’t miss them at the other parties.

  78. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the men have no legitimate cause of action in this situation, because there’s no such thing as female affirmative action. It seems to me, that the women are getting in on their merits, not because there’s a quota to fill. They’re much more interested in your race/ethnicity on an app. than your gender.

    Actually, white females by far are the group that has benefited most from Affirmative Action policies.

  79. @snarkysmachine:

    I’m not going to dispute your statement, but what I meant to say is that affirmative action wasn’t meant to help women when it came about and I don’t *think* (and of course I’m always ready to be corrected in these situations) that the government had any interest in forcing universities and colleges to have equal gender populations. Gender was only an issue when it was the gender integration of a public all-male/female school.

    I’m a Pacific Islander, so I may very well have benefitted from some quota out there, but the University I went to was already pretty diverse when I got there.

  80. “I think I have read most of the pee pee canon. Thank you, Henry Miller and Sydney Sheldon.”

    And Chuck Pahlahniuk. (Talk about a world class whiner.) Oh, and Freud.

    Note to boys: Please do your fripping homework or we will be forced to cart you all away in the world’s smallest waaaahmbulance.

  81. I know this isn’t all about me. I’m not a guy.
    But really, the way people describe their male students sounds like me. I couldn’t focus in class, I had trouble asking for help and when I managed to I didn’t know what to ask for. I would complete one assignment, late, and still hope for a good grade in the course. (I didn’t bully teachers or professors.)
    I have pretty bad ADD. I’m not a slacker who didn’t care about school, value my education, or respect my teachers, even if it looked like that a lot of the time. It’s not that I wasn’t willing to put the work in to succeed. I wasn’t able to. When I started developing the skills I needed to succeed in school, I started actually succeeding.
    High schools and colleges don’t really teach students how to get things finished on time or ask for help. They expect students to know how to manage those things on their own. But they are skills, and they can definitely be learned.
    I guess I’m hearing a lot of “guys don’t know how to school, they suck too much to get in lol!” and taking it a bit personally (despite, again, not being a guy myself). Do people who struggle in school not deserve to go?

  82. Where where where?!?! was I reading the piece on how the top female HS level mathematicians only come from 20 elite schools across the country*, whereas the males come from everywhere? Dang! Anyway, this is a recent study, and it is relevant insofar as it shows clearly that environmental factors determine far more of our academic success (or lack thereof) than inherent/genetic ones.

    In a generation where >80% of women will enter the workforce as full time workers (as opposed to stay at home unpaid labor), it is to be expected that higher education will be sought by most. And, as others have pointed out, the ratio gains have probably come at the expense of men of color and/or lower socio-economic class. Incarceration rates adversely affect MOC school attendence at all levels, and in frightful proportions of the population. Also, the military is a far more attractive option to men of lower SES than to women even still. And the proportion of young workers at low-skilled jobs instead of higher education is on the rise, IIRC.

    All of this is the direct, (but unintentional?) result of economic and political policies pushed by the right-wing since the Nixon administration; minimize social services, make college expensive, make the military attractive, keep wages low, but consumption up and expenses high, the war on drugs, etc. I don’t think the Bush’s have to worry about losing that Yale legacy just yet.

    *As an alum of one of those 20 schools, I can say that my school absolutely expected the same, if not superior performance in all areas from it’s female students as it did male. The school was started as one of the few places a woman could receive an actual college-prep education after 8th grade (rather than finishing school, or just work/get married); that female centric culture still exists at the school, although it has been fully co-educational now for 20+yrs.

  83. Does anyone know about or know where to find that statistic that basically states women need on average about one degree more to get hired into the same positions as men on average? (I am pretty sure I remember seeing that somewhere but can’t remember for sure.) Basically it breaks down to women with bachelors degrees getting similar jobs as men with high school diplomas, women with masters getting same level of jobs as men with bachelors.

  84. And the people who work on these campuses say that boys, frankly, are not at their best where they are outnumbered two to one by girls.

    Well, if we’re defining “at their best” as “better than all the girls”, of course not. Funny how that works.

  85. I’m finding these generalizations about men and women in higher education fascinating. I believe they are founded in experience; I’m just intrigued that my own experience has been so different. Since then early 1990s, I have been teaching at a small liberal arts WOMEN’S college, which has had graduate programs open to men for years, but recently also began admitting men to the undergraduate nursing program.

    Now, I do think the population of men that a women’s college gets (especially for a nursing major) is not your ordinary male college-student population. Any man who would be distracted/intimidated by a slight imbalance, or even a two-to-one ratio, is never getting though orientation, so I do not see them. I teach literature and writing, and I have never had more than one male student in the class at a time, but usually I don’t teach any. So I can hardly generalize!

    But among the young women I work with, I see the whole range of behaviors we have been discussing here, plus others: the quiet, invisible women who are upset that now they have to participate and think more to be good students; the loud, ego-focused ones who can’t see who *I* am to tell them what to do; the ones who take advantage of every available moment I can give them; the ones who have been told that they deserve and require support and adjustments but who are not active partners because they expect accomodation (and high grades!) to be hand-delivered to them; the ones who have been told that belief makes things happen so often that a string of Ds and Fs does not shake their conviction that somehow things will just work out; the ones who are convinced that others’ opportunities are their loss and do nothing but complain; the ones who are so peer-focused that I hardly exist in the classroom for them; and, you know, the people who are trying to get their education and take advantage of what help there is, and who do gain skills at a higher rate than the others, even when they have to work through frustrations.

    My current irritation is that some people appear to have been reinforced so much for SEEKING help (for instance, making appointments with me outside class time) that they don’t feel much need to actually TAKE the help (i.e., the 3/4 of my appointments so far this fall in which the students did not show). I do suspect that it’s linked to the social payoff for appearing to be good girls.

  86. This has squat to do with the fact that her grandparents were more oppressed than she is.

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written about the purpose of affirmative action until you start acting like oppression comes out of nowhere. A history of oppression is…a history. Some of it is… going to take place in history. The deep inequalities in opportunity we still suffer are backed by centuries of even deeper inequalities. There is much more than one generation of disadvantage at work here, which is part of why it takes more than simple bootstrapping to overcome it.

    You’re right about the purpose of affirmative action (and either deliberately or mistakenly distorting what I said about it), but you’re wrong about whether current oppression is independent of past oppression.

    If I understand you correctly, part of your objection is to men being now put at a disadvantage by not being considered over more-qualified female applicants. In other words, men should have the privilege that comes with a history of being the only ones considered, and additional consideration for the current crop. That’s not something I’m willing to support.

  87. Puffalo, I don’t think anyone was saying that people who struggle academically don’t deserve to go to school. As a teacher head over heels with my current special ed class, I definitely wasn’t saying that—those kids are some of the most interesting thinkers I know.

    What I was saying was that in the context of the classroom some of those behaviors we associate with being teenage and male is sometimes unfairly categorized as “disruptive” or “problematic.” It sounds like the same thing happened to you too, because of your learning differences…sometimes behavior that teacher can read as being rude or disrespectful is not at all intended that way. And some of the behavior that is approved of in girls is also behavior that will get one ahead in an academic context. . .

  88. Fillyjonk:

    I’m not saying that oppression has nothing to do with a history of oppression.

    The fact that my example woman is oppressed today has everything to do with a history of oppression. The fact that she deserves affirmative action relates only to the fact that she is oppressed today. She would not deserve affirmative action if everything was equal for her now and it was all fine except she had this background of having had oppressed ancestors. If that were the case, I’d deserve affirmative action for being a Scotsman.

    If I understand you correctly, part of your objection is to men being now put at a disadvantage by not being considered over more-qualified female applicants.

    Nope. I don’t object to that, and said nothing of the kind. For one, it’s not happening. I keep trying to say that men are, in fact, at the advantage and for this reason they are less motivated to succeed in school or go to university. Their success does not depend on it the way women’s does. If women enjoyed the advantage of having decent-paying somewhat-satisfying work available to them fresh out of HS, they’d probably slack off more and the gender-ratio in colleges would start to reflect the gender-ratio in the population. What we need is not to have college admissions people men to correct the ratio. What we need is affirmative action to provide employment opportunities with decent pay for less-educated women. I suppose if that existed to significant enough degree, the ratio would even out by itself.

    What I object to in your post is text that I understood as a sarcastic implication that, since women once weren’t allowed to go to college, making it harder for men to go is fair, as if we want to play a sort of ‘well, I was at an unfair disadvantage, now it’s my turn to be at an unfair advantage’ game. This is okay when you’re playing chess, but does not work when it is spread over generations.

    (I am not saying that anything in the actual situation is making it harder for men to go to uni. I think the opportunities are probably still favouring men unfairly and we are seeing more women in higher ed in spite of that, because women need it more. Unfairly so.)

    I did invent a devilish new salad dressing to make up for centuries of racial oppression, but people only laughed and said it was delicious.

  89. making it harder for men to go

    See, this is what I thought I was characterizing above… that you think men are somehow being put at a disadvantage in the situation described. Women aren’t getting an edge on men in college admissions because someone’s making it harder for men to go. They’re doing so because nobody’s making it easier for men to go. You catch my meaning? It’s not about disadvantaging men but of failing to preserve their historical advantage.

    You’re making a lot of good points but you keep occasionally saying things that I think are missing the point. (Though maybe I’m the one missing your point?) Sorry to be ignoring the good points in favor of responding to the ones that baffle me! We’ll call it even for you calling my point “bizarre and grotesque.”

  90. I didn’t say that it’s really making it harder for men to go. I thought I’d refuted that notion repeatedly.

    Affirmative action as payment for oppression really is bizarre and grotesque, but not as funny as salad dressing recipes as payment for oppression. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings with that phrase, though.

    You keep saying that I’m saying things that are missing the point but that I think I’m not saying. We’re having an aspie-NT moment here. Thanks for being patient about it.

  91. I didn’t say that it’s really making it harder for men to go. I thought I’d refuted that notion repeatedly.

    Oh, ok, I think this is where my comprehension was failing.

    Affirmative action as payment for oppression really is bizarre and grotesque

    It would be, which is why I’m a little puzzled that you would think that was literally what I was saying! But that may well be an aspie-NT thing. (It is not literally what I was saying.)

    We’re having an aspie-NT moment here.

    I thought that might be the case. Though it might also be an aspie/different-not-quite-NT moment, as I am sort of experiencing myself as being ADD-hampered here. You’re laying out a very thorough hypothetical and I am not having a brain that can process it right now.

  92. Oh, I’m certainly prone to be too literal for most. Also, I actually have encountered people who think that oppressing people who’s ancestors oppressed somebody else’s ancestors, or oppressing this generation of men because previous generations of them oppressed previous generations of women, is a good idea. They may be otherwise clever and wise people who are in that case not thinking about what they think.

    (I deny that I am actually unusual in that I am very bright in some ways and absurdly stupid in others. Everybody is, they’re just usually bright and stupid about different sets of things than I am.)

  93. Puffalo, what I am hearing from your comment is that you were underserved by a school system that did not recognize you have a learning disability. It was late on introducing you to the skill sets that would help compensate for that, and it was remiss in providing you legally required services to cope.

    That is not the same thing as being frustrated that some women are entering a domain once reserved for men. That is still for the most part institutionally designed to advantage men. And they are doing well. And some men and some institutions are calling the success of women who are on male-advantaged turf an oppression of dudekind everywhere.

    My observation on the ways in which my students avail themselves of resources wasn’t an LOL dudebros comment. It was an observation suggesting why my female students are doing better this term.

    Okay… so should you not go to college if you struggle to get there?

    YES. Yes, but my male students didn’t struggle, as far as I can tell. And the difference is they are doing fine mostly, and my female students are more likely to excel.

    As for teaching students how to ask for help, I couldn’t agree with you more. I hope, I really, really hope, my students will start their sophomore years learning how to ask for help and seeing seeking help as an advantage.

    Also, I have noticed that some see “seeking help” as “I need help” and some are “seeking help” as in “I am enthused and wish to be enthused in company.”

  94. Oh my… I mean… if you struggle to go to college, you should go (and successful struggle means you come in prepared to ask for help… which is an asset!). Absolutely, you should be there.

    I used to teach in two prisons for men in an Associate’s Degree program. Talk about struggling to make it… a few dropped out in 8th grade and had 3-week old GEDs.

  95. I reread comments. All of what I was responding to was snark, I think.
    And lots of people actually said things just like what I said.
    So… nevermind.

  96. Am I the only man who was really excited that my school advertised the huge proportion of women in the physics and math departments when compared to other top ranking math and physics schools? (that huge proportion is 35% female, compared to less than 10% at some other top ranking schools)

    I loved walking into my quantum mechanics lecture and seeing 1/3 of the students being women. It was shocking. I was expecting maybe one or two women, not 10 or 15.

    Re: Affirmative Action…
    I don’t think we should be considering the colour of people’s skin in the admissions process (or their chromosomal makeup). However, that doesn’t mean we can’t take into account the efforts, struggles, and socioeconomic backgrounds of people who are applying for college.

  97. I also work at a “historically” women’s college, it is now about 20% men, and the guys I see want so much more help than our female students. Not, can you help me figure out how to do this thing help, but can you do this for me while I bat my eyes at you help. It’s pretty off-putting, I think some of them feel their privilege is more potent since there are so few men around.

    Grafton:

    This is how I think of the effects of historical oppression – for, well, almost ever, women and minorities were artificially held in the lowest levels of working society. If my mother had the same opportunities I have, as imperfect as they are, instead of being a librarian I could be a professor in library school. If my grandmother had had the same opportunities, I could be the dean of that school. If my great grandmother had those opportunities, I could be the head of a library foundation. Great-great grandmother – independently wealthy politician. Great-great-great grandmother – President of the United States.

    In order for women to gain high positions they must believe that they can from a very young age, and in order to believe that in a society which is bombarding us with advertisements and media saying we are best for the fucking, we have to see real women who have already gotten there.

  98. Oh: Instead of the professions listed, my mother is a clerk in an office, my grandmother worked in a factory, my great grandmother was a dairy farmer’s wife, and my great-great grandmother was a prostitute.

    So, we’re all a step above the past generation, perhaps my great-great granddaughter will be President.

  99. Sigh.

    Commenters above me have said it all and said it better, but every time this argument comes around again I kind of want to throw things. My current school is pretty even gender-wise, but looking around my department, you’d never know it. Out of this year’s transfer class, I was the only woman to make the cut, and the other day I was talking to a girl in my physics class who claimed to be the only female sophomore in AE. It’s not a big department (~500 undergrads), but still manages to be overwhelmingly white and male.

    College has been nothing but pressure. Pressure being the only woman in advanced physics for a year at my old school. Pressure from dropping out of high school and coming from a community college. People expect me to struggle by default because girls can’t handle hard sciences and junior college is for people too dumb for ‘real college’, but when heaven forbid the boys have to face a fraction of the same pressures I’ve faced my whole academic career, it’s still somehow women’s fault. It’s crap and I’m sick of it.

  100. I work at the Writing Center on the campus of my law school and I’ve noticed a very interesting dynamic. Non-traditional students seek help, are grateful for it, and do their very best to put my advice to work (regardless of gender). Younger women come to me with decent papers, but an attitude of “tell me if it stinks.” As though they are expecting the criticism. Young men come to me, at the verylastsecond, expect me to edit and don’t care to learn what they’ve done wrong for future use. But the charm was on full-blast while I attempt to help them. This is after just one semester, so my “data” isn’t comprehensive, it’s just what I’ve experienced.

  101. Bellacoker, I getcha. Most people don’t do things until they realise they’re possible things. I’m not sure if it extends so far generations-wise, but I take your point. You need opportunities, and the knowledge of them, and proof that they’re more than theoretical.

    I did have to say, “were artificially held in the lowest levels?” I’d say are. (The unequal pay business drives me crazy; there is a marked and visible gender divide at the office where my spouse works — there’s part of the building where there are a lot more men than women, and part where there are almost all women, and hey, the women’s area they make less money but need more education. And the highest paid individuals in the mostly-men side are men, and the top-manager-creature is a man. Yet casually glancing over the room and saying, “Wow, this is sexist,” would no doubt get a response of, “But lots of women work here!”)

    Not, can you help me figure out how to do this thing help, but can you do this for me while I bat my eyes at you help. It’s pretty off-putting, I think some of them feel their privilege is more potent since there are so few men around.

    I understand that this Boyz at the Reference Desk thing happens in the public library, too, with men wanting the reference librarian to go fetch and carry and edit for them. Now I want to conduct a survey, but I only know one male reference librarian to ask.

  102. I agree that rich white dudes should shut up and put up, particularly because statistics show that they are, in fact, going to college at the same rate as their rich white female peers.

  103. I regard reference librarians much like I regard patron saints or skilled bakers – with awe and fear. I cannot imagine approaching them with anything less than powerful respect and apologies for interrupting their work.

  104. Aw, now. They want to help you, and complain bitterly that not enough people know just how helpful they can be.

    The scary librarians are the catalogers, and they are stored down in the basement, for they are perverts and space-aliens all. Moo hoo he he ha ha.

  105. This is so way late in the thread, but OMG Afii, did you go to William Woods?!? I did my freshman year there back when they were still all gals.

  106. Besides the fact that it’s fun to be surrounded by girls when you’re a guy

    You forgot the word “straight” before “guy” ;)

  107. The single most offensive moment in my secondary education came during the last week of high school. My school recognized the top ten graduating seniors (by GPA) but did not specify in the graduation ceremony which was the valedictorian. Of course, they told us, they just didn’t make a big deal of it. The assistant principal (male) who was meeting with us told us that the valedictorian was the single male student of the ten of us, and observed that, in his experience, the top ten was usually all female, but when a guy did work hard enough to get into it, he was always the top student.

    In other words, when men get around to using their manly brains, they definitely beat the weak attempts of those of us with sweet lady-brains! Aaah, if I could but go back in time! It distressed me, but at the time I was too quiet and polite to actually call his sexist ass self on it.

  108. You know, I only just started thinking about this (this blog is obviously good for my brain) but this thing about men getting paid more at lower levels actually works out for my hubby and me (we are the same age and started med school the same year). I have three bachelor degrees, a postgraduate diploma and a masters. My hubby has two bachelor degrees and a postgraduate diploma. So, who earns more on an hourly basis? I’ll give you a clue, it isn’t me…

  109. I go to an Ivy where engineering is 50/50, the best student in the physics department is female (though the dept as a whole has more men), and where there are probably more women than men in pre-med. I don’t exactly see guys suffering for it – and they already have an advantage in applications since we stress athletics so much in the application process. My experience as a peer tutor has led me to believe a lot of (white, wealthy) guys here don’t really care about their GPA as much, if only because they have connections to job opportunities already – they just want to pass their class with minimal effort, whereas the women want to do better (not that there aren’t a lot of wealthy white women with connections, it’s just that the ones I know all put in at least some effort in their classes anyways).

    I think the education system needs reform, but mainly to help socioeconomically disadvantaged students. The SE-privileged guys do seem to be doing the most complaining, but they’re not genuinely falling behind, not in the classroom or in the workplace or in society in general, unless they judge their own worth by how much (undeservedly) farther ahead they are of women and minorities (tough luck bro!).

    I don’t get this whole “boys are falling behind since they just can’t sit in classes all day whereas girls are obedient because it’s in their NATURE” thing. For one thing, if it’s completely “natural”, then we should think of it in the same way we don’t mind a gender gap in the sciences – no big deal, it’s just normal for women to be superior in the classroom. And it’s not even biologically sound – other countries (eg China/Japan/Korea) stress rote learning, long hours of studying and homework etc FAR more than the U.S. does, but they have even or male-biased breakdowns in college rates. Culturally white, upper-middle class American boys just seem to get away with being rambunctious, rebellious, sucky at academics and are sometimes even validated for it (since they’re all like, noncomformist, misunderstood individuals gifted with non-book intelligence – unless they’re poor or a minority, in which case they’re juvenile delinquents), whereas girls are considered stupid and shallow rather than misunderstood if they don’t do well academically. So of course girls are going to apply themselves more in school and take more advantage of help, sometimes at the cost of doing things they genuinely love. I’d be thrilled if a greater variety of talents outside the classroom were appreciated, but for all genders.

    On a random note – Some people complain that female teachers somehow privilege girl students due to their teaching style. Well, maybe you shouldn’t stigmatize male primary and elementary school teachers then. I really wish there were more of them anyways, if only so kids can grow up with more male role models who are intelligent, nurturing, open-minded and communicative etc. I absolutely hate the offensive suggestion that male primary school teachers are pedos or unmasculine or something, I can think of several guys off the top of my head who are great with kids of both genders and they are just ridiculously cool.

  110. I am taking a physics class (my first mathy type class since AP Calculus) because I’m a bit too Humanities heavy and need to science UP before going on for my PhD. I am the only female in my class (but not the only person of color.) My entire class is POCs (Thank you, Dr. McNair!) so the dynamic is fairly different in the sense I feel we are all experiencing racism pretty similarly (based on some conversations) but there are marked differences in terms of how our work is perceived based on gender.

    Also, though the McNairs scholar program is for students of color, the assumption is we would be from economically disadvantaged situations. Everyone of us (again, based on conversations.) is a Huxtable and I find that incredibly bizarre, yet unsurprising.

    So when folks talk about AA not necessarily leveling the playing field they are accurate in a way. Even among the “disadvantaged” those with more privilege (race, class, gender, ability) are still going to be neck stepping on the ones who have the least.

    Disadvantaged folks have a hard time unpacking that. Myself included.

  111. @Snarkysmachine – I remember back when I was doing college apps there was the suggestion that AA isn’t so much helping economically disadvantaged minority students, but rather wealthy minority students, since colleges desire racial diversity but don’t want to pay for it (esp since most colleges are rather tight on funds atm – they’re supposed to be need-blind, but I bet you can often guess someone’s SE status through applications anyway, like the kind of school they go to, what they mention in essays, their activities etc). Though I’d venture that wealthier students in general apply to more colleges or more of the kinds of colleges that have AA programs.

  112. Another random observation – I used to have that kind of pooh-pooh attitude about junior and community colleges and BOY HOWDY have I gotten myself schooled on that subject. Because it’s true that there are skills you need to survive in colleges and universities many of which are not taught in high school, and there’s an entire population of people who need some time and practice to hone those skills and that’s what the CCs can provide. I’d so much rather have a student who did a year or two at a CC first because they understand how college courses work and how to cope.

  113. Elizabby, how does that ‘work out?’ If you were paid fairly, you’d be much wealthier as a couple, so this thing isn’t working to your advantage. Except that it’s to your advantage to be straight and married.

    Snarkysmachine, that’s pretty interesting. I wondered how much AA worked for economically advantaged people. Which would seem to defeat the point. At least a bit. I doubt that the Huxtables aren’t at least a bit disadvantaged academically just because of skin colour. There’s probably a some form of metrics one could do to fix that. If what blu says wasn’t in the way. Hrrm.

  114. @blu: “Culturally white, upper-middle class American boys just seem to get away with being rambunctious, rebellious, sucky at academics and are sometimes even validated for it (since they’re all like, noncomformist, misunderstood individuals gifted with non-book intelligence – unless they’re poor or a minority, in which case they’re juvenile delinquents), whereas girls are considered stupid and shallow rather than misunderstood if they don’t do well academically.”

    THIS. I also read applications for one of the elite Honors programs here, where the mean SAT score is around a 1500 and most of the applicants come from elite high schools in the suburban areas of Dallas and Houston. There’s not a major gender gap among that cohort, from what I can tell. I see enough football captain Eagle Scouts with perfect grades to stock the entire program.

    Among the rare applications that we get from lower socio-economic students and persons of color (non-Asian), most of them are girls. This, by the way, is what drives me nuts about parents who complain that their precious dime-a-dozen Eagle Scouts with near-perfect SAT’s (which mean squat, by the way) are being boxed out by poor black kids. Most of these poorer schools don’t have the resources to even INFORM THEIR STUDENTS THAT HONORS PROGRAMS EXIST. Which means that in a stack of 1000 applicants, you will likely get 1 poor black male (the Holy fucking Grail of admissions) who managed to overcome all the odds just to get the goddamn application in. That’s not because poor black men aren’t smart enough to hack it or don’t take advantage of resources. It’s that there are massive cultural and institutional barriers preventing alot of them from even knowing what resources are available to them.

  115. I don’t think it’s an accident that both FAFSA and most college apps ask for the highest education level completed by your parents. I certainly believe that colleges would much prefer bright minority students be also from class privileged backgrounds.

    A not so clued in (but tenured) prof remarked that “those” students tended to be more like “us”.

    There does seem to be some basis for that rather assy statement. Class values tend to be shared among members. Though part of the way in which racism works, is by claiming the culture of poverty and its markers are solely the domain of POCs. When actuality, the values people tend to associate with “Ghetto” life are often evident (illiteracy, accessing entitlement programs, etc) regardless of race. My state tops the list of folks receiving the most government benefits. My state also tops the list of having the smallest POC pop.

    In fact living here has given me a clearer sense of the narrative of poverty told to respective races and what impacts it has on their ability to empower themselves.

    We don’t call them food stamps here. It’s a nutritional program. This is the only place I have ever lived where people are actively working to destigmatize folks dealing with food insecurity issues and the people in power are actually listening.

    How does this relate to education. Our colleges are some of the most expensive, lowest attended by in state students and the economic disparities are staggering. We pay the most prop taxes and our schools pay the most per child and yet many would say our money is wasted as most of our children will not be able to afford to attend college anyway.

    Our state would rather send college reps to affluent black suburbs of Los Angeles, Atlanta, Charlotte and Houston in hopes of finding one Theo, than spend the money in state to fund the education of dozens of residents.

    And we’re back to how oppression hurts everyone.

    ETA: What Ashley said 1000x.

  116. Well, I’m glad my alma mater is still a WOMEN’S college and not just “historically.” Even though men can cross-register from the other colleges, the focus on campus remains decidedly I-am-woman-here-me-roar.

  117. For learning for learning’s sake don’t forget about women’s colleges. They work well in creating a positive learning atmosphere and then if you want to go drink beer to excess with guys, the local university has plenty of those.

    Boys and girls are different. However, we all need to figure out how to just get along.

  118. @Ashley – I totally agree, the differences in opportunities are just staggering. And even if you actually heard about these extracurriculars or programs and somehow managed to pay for them, you’d probably face very different cultural barriers. I knew plenty of Asians whose parents were poor but who at least had cultural expectations that their kids would work hard at school, do extracurriculars etc (I’m one of them :)) whereas other parents may not be so encouraging.

    I also think that the kinds of activities that honors programs, colleges, scholarships etc look for privilege certain cultural backgrounds. I was in the piano program at my creative & performing arts high school, which focused on classical music and offered us access to competitions, for recitals, etc, which obviously bolstered our college apps if only in a completely toolish way. Meanwhile, my friend who was an absolutely brilliant pianist/keyboardist – he was by far the most naturally gifted player I’ve ever seen, and I know quite a few players who went to Juilliard and Carnegie etc – loved playing jazz rather than classical and therefore wasn’t in the department. He played for local bands and the jazz band, and it took up most of his time but he couldn’t write things like “won gold medal in world competition etc” on his apps. (Though I guess he wouldn’t be happy going to places like Juilliards anyway, or even college.)

  119. This reminds me of the story of a dear friend of mine (we met in high school). She went to a women’s only school, in part because she has a very submissive personality and knew that she would spend all her time at a co-ed school feeling cowed by the men in her class and not speaking up and not trying as hard (lest she hurt the poor widdle men’s feelings). It’s not that she necessarily believes those things, but she was raised by VERY southern conservative parents, so it was very difficult for her to escape the patriarchy (as compared to me, who was raised by liberal atheist parents who told me I could be absolutely anything I wanted). Her senior year, the school (which had been women’s only for a good hundred or so years) decided to start admitting men.

    The uproar was tremendous. She spent the entire year going to protest after protest, even though the dean and school board had made up their minds. And it wasn’t even about “zomg those stupid penis-toters” or anything. It was their fear of losing the sense of togetherness. She told me once that she’d hated girls in high school, because we were all supposed to be in competition (except me, because I was a slacker), not just academically, but when it came to the boys too. When she went to the women’s college, though, that was gone. There was still some competition, but it wasn’t so cut-throat, so horrible. There was a real sense of companionship present, and putting men into that setting was going to change all that.

    The fact is, men make academic situations more difficult for women as of right now, because of many of the things others have mentioned above. Lack of respect for female (or even male, sometimes) authority figures, having excuses made for them, general asshattery. I would often find myself being angry with men in my classes in college (general classes, not my major classes) because they wouldn’t shut up long enough for ME to learn something.

  120. ” However, we all need to figure out how to just get along.”

    Women are always trying to get along with men. It is a remarkably unsuccessful strategy.
    What we need is: more men to get along with women. Imagine a world where men didn’t get freaked at the idea of someone being ahead of them. As snarkymachine said: white women have been the greatest benefactors of affirmative action programs. It is a sorry condemnation of our society that men have only overcome their misogyny because their racism is greater.

    I enjoyed this discussion. I especially liked the commenters who said,”Women are in front of men: So? this is a problem?”
    It reminds me of my favourite feminist cartoon ever :
    first frame: woman speaking, noble expression on her face – “It will take a lot of work for women to take their place as equals at the side of men.”
    second frame: same woman, gleefully – “And then one small step to get in front where we belong.”
    (I like irony.)

  121. Hm. *Maybe* dudes are just socialized to do poorly in school. But on the other hand — how did that go again? — oh, yeah:

    “Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren’t” due to socialization after all.” – Lawrence Summers

    So maybe their poor widdle testosterone-addled brains just can’t keep up.

  122. Hidden Tohru:
    You are absolutely right. The college I work at is in the same town as another public university that is co-ed, and the feeling on the campuses is completely different. The way both the men and women at each school act and interact is different. Strikingly, the levels of self-confidence and self-acceptance of the students at my college, the women’s university is amazing compared to the women at the other college which is literally four miles away. We are a commuter school, so there isn’t really a strong community feeling, but there is a sense of not having to defend yourself 24-7 for having a brain and a vagina.

    On AA:
    I read an article, which I can’t find now, on affirmative action admissions to law schools. The author found that there was an application inflation among privileged students which minority students couldn’t match, and which was not an indicator of greater success when the students were followed for years after graduation. In fact, the minority students who were allowed into the school with fewer application “points” did as well or better in their practices than their colleagues.

    This gentleman recommended we adopt a system where schools determine a minimum level of qualification for success, instead of making students race to be most impressive, and then fill the open positions through some sort of lottery which reflects the demographics of the greater population. I know that this would never fly politically, but I think it’s a great compromise because it doesn’t assume that people with more opportunities are inherently better and, as in every good compromise, every group would get fucked a little.

  123. “Meanwhile, my mother who was a NURSE and brilliant was never encouraged to do the same.”

    It really bothers me to see this. People assume that because nursing is “women’s” work, it has no value in and of itself. I enjoy nursing. I have no desire to practice medicine, yet people assume that because I’m fairly intelligent, I secretly want to be a physician (I don’t).

  124. Mortenson comes across as a tool. Any statement or implication that women have it too good in education is absurd. And I see nothing right now that’s going to turn that around. Women and girls are not doing too well.

    A very valid question and totally separate question is whether men and boys are doing too poorly. Not because female students are being given some unfair advantage, but because some element of the edu-sphere is failing (or being failed by) males, at least within certain demographics. Not enough male teachers, not enough male role-models who showcase education, too many parents who tolerate goofing off from their sons, an anti-intellectual conception of masculinity . . . All of these problems need to be addressed, and none of them conceivably result from the exponential growth in female educational achievement.

    I am stoned out of my mind right now (I have a prescription for that) so I hope my meaning is understandable.

  125. On a random note – Some people complain that female teachers somehow privilege girl students due to their teaching style.

    Psh, I wish. Being called on less, listened to less, and then reading exactly *one* book by or about women in all 4 years of high school didn’t do my girl self a lot of favors. My (female) English teacher in freshman year literally *apologized* to the boys in the class for making them read The Joy Luck Club after we had just finished reading back-to-back The Catcher in the Rye, Ordinary People, A Separate Peace, Hamlet and The Great Gatsby (I shit you not.) And then we read the Old Man and the Sea, which at least wasn’t about a *young* emo white male. (And by apologized I mean she basically said “sorry guys, I know it will be boring reading about a bunch of women for the next few weeks, try to bear with us” which seemed to translate into youngdudebro speak as “feel free not to give a shit about women’s lives” because they mostly didn’t.)

  126. I guess, technically, my male English teacher was worse. 3/4 of the way through the year I asked him why none of the books on our syllabus had any female authors or major female characters. (We had just finished reading Huckleberry Finn and Red Badge of Courage and I was fed up to my freaking *eyeballs* with slightly assholeish white-boy coming-of-age stories. At that point I felt I could pretty much describe in loving detail what it felt like for my *balls* to drop while my male peers weren’t entirely clear what a “period” was. And most of them were pretty sure that girls didn’t have sexual fantasies at all either. So, yeah…that was a pretty 1-way coming-of-age street there…)

    Anyways, he told me (I swear to god) that there wasn’t any famous female American literature from before the 20th century. So the next day I brought him a book entirely dedicated to famous female authors (it was just one frigging long list of woman writers from the last century or so, a giant love letter to lady literacy!) and he was all “um, thanks…”

    A few days before graduating I got the book back from him and asked if he had found it useful. “I didn’t actually get a chance to look at it” quoth he.

    So yeah. I guess an apology + 1 female author/female cast is better than no female authors/characters at all. Aren’t we girls so privileged to have all those female teachers who will prioritize us above the male experience so far as to include a single book with us in it? 9.9

  127. It really bothers me to see this. People assume that because nursing is “women’s” work, it has no value in and of itself. I enjoy nursing. I have no desire to practice medicine, yet people assume that because I’m fairly intelligent, I secretly want to be a physician (I don’t).

    Well my mom had a pretty not-so-secret desire to attend medical school. In 1962 a smart brown girl from a middle class family was steered towards social work or nursing, regardless of their own aspirations and talents.

    Medicine doesn’t work without nursing. I realize there are many people who go into the field because they truly want to practice nursing and their motives are often considered suspect. However there are also people, often women and minorities, who have gone into nursing because other opportunities in medicine were not available to them.

    It seems you pulled my quote to speak about your own experiences, which is completely valid. Nurses get a lot of shit. And smart people in nursing get even more. My intention was to speak about my mom’s experiences with a dream denied and not the value of nursing as a career option.

  128. I think it’s overly optimistic to think that just because there is an overwhelming majority of female students in fields like pharmacy, veterinary medicine and ahem, modern languages that eventually the professoriate will be mostly female as well.

    This is just not true. For many reasons, the few men who go to grad programs in, say, modern languages, have a lot easier time getting tenure track jobs. Many things can account for this, so I can’t be too bitter, but I do keep a list of the jobs I’ve lost to men. I’ve applied to and interviewed for around 100 jobs in my career in a quest to actually live in the same state as my husband (haven’t succeeded), and more than 50% of the jobs that left me thinking “why didn’t they choose me?” eventually hired men. Additionally, both my husband and the males in my cohort from grad school found tenure tracks more quickly. It’s hard to say just why. Talent, of course, factors in. You could say, well, obviously, my husband must be a better writer/researcher/teacher. I give you “researcher,” but my teaching evals are higher and I copy edit everything he writes to fix his grammar and style. We all have talents, but many women get pushed aside in academia. We’re seen as natural adjuncts and non-ladder faculty. Having children can derail our careers completely if we don’t time it just right. I’ve seen many, many female professors leave academia to have children. There’s not a lot of professions that strike the odd balance between incredibly liberal politics and policies and habits that just don’t favor the hiring and retention of women.

    The “ideal” hire for a university is a married man with a “captive spouse”–someone who trails him. The school never has to worry about placing her for a tenure-track position. She can be an adjunct, or teach high school, or leave the profession completely. Many women make these choices, and I may as well. So far I’ve chosen my career path over living with my husband, but it doesn’t feel worth it most days. Very few people have the gumption to sustain a situation that drains their finances and makes them miserable. Yes, we’d have more disposable income if we had one household and one salary. Our two households plus the travel spend everything we make.

  129. I don’t think I can really ad anything to this discussion, since most of it has already been said. I did, however, go to a women’s college – one that was part of a consortium of 4 other (coed) colleges. It’s a weird experience being framed as both a prude and a slut, academic competition and just looking for an “Mrs.” all at the same time. My major was probably 75% women, but from what I can tell, aside from myself, it was only the men who continued on to graduate school…hmmm…

  130. There is an entire subculture that views higher education and the jobs it spawns with distrust. Sort of like cheating. I did not understand this well until I got to know my wife’s family. They come from a long line of family businesses and when they finish HS, the expected course of action is not higher education, but rather joining the family business. Of course some do attend college, but it is not expected and does not carry any sort of high respect. They do much better than average in terms of income in the long run, though the early years are lean. They work very hard if measured in terms of hours and they seem to be juggling a lot of shit all the time. I don’t think I could do it. They are very conservative and I have heard them make many racist comments (my interpretation, not theirs). My wife and I have been outcasts even though I am polite to them. I went to medical school and and have heard a lot of jokes about being over educated, about wasted time in school, better off going to work immediately after HS and so forth. To this subculture feminism is a complete abstraction, no relevance at all. Higher education is a waste of time. I must admit to some degree of admiration for them as they do accomplish some remarkable things at least as far as earnings go. So far I have seen them start three businesses from scratch, 2 by women, and all three do well. I could not do it.

    As for my field, I have never seen someone graduate from medical school and fail unless they broke the law or were unethical. So, I can see how they feel that medical school is a form of cheating because in a sense success is guaranteed (if you can get into medical school). No one ever flunks out of medical school either; help is always there if it is needed. Some drop out, but no one flunks out. Is there any other field where success is a sure thing? Maybe dentistry and teaching.

    By they way, over 50% of my class was female in 1993 as was my undergraduate class in 1989.

  131. Some people complain that female teachers somehow privilege girl students due to their teaching style

    Nonense. Elementary education has long been “female dominated” (Feh on this also) and white men have traditionally done just fine, because the system is set up for them. Guess what? It still is. I’m a public school teacher and I see it every day. For example, sexual harassment is supposed to be a no-tolerance issue, but that’s not how it works in a school with a good old boy principal who hirea copies of himself exclusively. Most of the literature chosen has male protagonists because “boys won’t read about a girl” and there is a lot of pointless fretting about whether or not boys are getting enough chances to physically act out. Don’t even get me started on how kids who don’t gender conform are treated. Ugh.

    A feministteache can allay some of this idiocy, but not all of it by any means.

  132. Sniper,

    Yeah, what IS it with the hires being exactly like the head guy? It’s so disturbing…it’s like the Rat King.

    Your post made me think maybe we work in the same district, and then I was like, oh, no, crap. It’s just like that everywhere.

    I taught my students about a study that showed some of the reasons boys get called and participate more in class–they call out, don’t raise their hands, are louder, and girls sit and wait their turn and the teachers never get to them. We had a big discussion about it (9th grade) and then those little suckers caught me doing the very same thing THREE MORE TIMES in an 85 minute block. So, my own teaching style wasn’t helping the girls out much in that scenario.

  133. @ Bob: Oh yes. I moved last year to be in a place where I could get a better education than the state I was raised in (got my undergraduate there, but NC isn’t really that stellar on graduate voice performance programs), and as a result ended up near my mother’s sister, who lives about half an hour away in Kentucky. She never got a college degree, from what I understand, and married a man who was very much expected to do well for himself, regardless if he got any college under his belt or not (he did end up getting a business degree, but only after working at his father’s business for several years). And while their children all have bachelors, it was more of a “because they could” thing than a “must have edumacation” thing. Two of their five kids work at the family company (the youngest is unable to hold a job for mental health reasons) and one of the others is a policeman, while the last is a stay at home mom (but she’ll likely go back to work once the kids are all old enough). They’re also very traditional, and I think they were always a bit wary of my dad for being a doctor (and a specialist, even, he had to do a four year residency).

    Also, it’s not necessarily true that you can’t flunk out of medical school. My dad almost did, but he decided to tough out the ridicule of his peers and did the entire year over again. It wasn’t because he couldn’t handle it, per se, it was more because he was a spoiled rich kid who also had to deal with a wife and two young children (three when I was born, right after he graduated).

  134. blu: Some people complain that female teachers somehow privilege girl students due to their teaching style. Well, maybe you shouldn’t stigmatize male primary and elementary school teachers then. I really wish there were more of them anyways, if only so kids can grow up with more male role models who are intelligent, nurturing, open-minded and communicative etc.

    This reminds me of my dad: he got a master’s in education when I was in high school because he wanted to teach primary school, partly so that the boys would have better role models than, say, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The school he was working for kept having him tutor 6th-grade boys with behavioral problems because these kids would not respect female authority, or the authority of anyone who was unable to physically intimidate them. He did not feel that he was making a difference, and is now doing IT for that school.

    Grafton:
    FWIW, I understood your point, and I’m not on the Asperger’s/Autism spectrum. As I read your exchange, I wondered if FJ reading it differently might have a lot to do with the fact that she’s a moderator, and the type of comments she becomes used to seeing here that we never have to see.

    I remember reading an article–I wish I could remember where–where they did an experiment with fictional Curriculum Vitae that were assigned male or female names, and the people rating them came up with criticism for the females that sounded totally valid, but did not come up with the same criticism for men, when given the same CV. (Of course, there have been plenty of other studies like this showing that women are often judged more harshly than men for the same behavior, but this one was pretty striking to me.) Given all the situations like this where women are judged differently than men for the same behavior, it’s just ludicrous that some people are freaking out because women are outnumbering men in college admissions. Just as women as individuals often have to be better than men to get the same results, women as a group will have to outnumber men in order to be equally represented in desirable jobs. Don’t worry, men, you’ll still be overrepresented among CEOs, tenured faculty… [the list goes on] for some time to come.

  135. Hey Snarkymachine,

    Quick correction: in order to qualify for the McNair Scholars program, a student has to meet two of the following three criteria:

    1. Underrepresented ethnic minority group
    2. Low-income background
    3. First-generation college student (i.e. neither parent completed a college degree)

    So actually, McNair is not only for POC, and lots of poor whites participate in it as well, though yes, the majority of participants (by my observation) ARE students of color, who happen to disproportionately also fall into the other (2 and 3) categories. I’m a McNair Alum as well, and worked with a McNair program for a while in grad school (on the other side of it, basically). In both programs, we had a fraction (about 20%?) of our scholars who came from desperately poor (like, one girl didn’t grow up with running water), white rural backgrounds. I’m not saying this in a “what about the white peoplezzz” kind of way, but just to clarify a common misconception about McNair, even among those who are/have been in it. I was qualified for McNair on all three criteria, but in terms of the “slot” I filled, was there b/c of criteria 2 and 3, so my ethnicity did not actually determine my participation in it.

    This is a really long comment that was actually just meant as a quick little correction. Sorry!

  136. closetpuritan: FWIW, I understood your point, and I’m not on the Asperger’s/Autism spectrum. As I read your exchange, I wondered if FJ reading it differently might have a lot to do with the fact that she’s a moderator,

    I’m not sure that autistics understand the idiosyncratic communications styles of other autistics all that much better than NTs. Perhaps it was expectations of moderator-ness, or my running on in too much detail not suiting her mental state of the moment, or perhaps she’s a holistic thinker and I’m almost always fail at making such people understand that I’m comparing two lines of thinking. If we were face-to-face I’d probably have started to draw diagrams, which makes people tear their hair. It’s all cool. This sort of thing happens to me a lot and is a drag, but I doubt it’d be quite reasonable to expect more than the tolerance required to figure it out, and I got that.

    Y’know, I wonder if male schoolteachers get and keep jobs easier, and or get paid more, because of this thing about how kids need more male role models. I was raised by a single mother, and all through elementary school, any time there was a male teacher for my grade level I was in that class. I learned later that they did that on purpose. It’s certainly obnoxious that your dad ended up the school hammer, and I wonder how many male teachers get stuck with that. It happens to male librarians.

    The whole ‘role model’ business is weird anyway. I spent a lot of schoolboy-time butting heads with cultural expectations about childhood hero-worship, because the hero that I worshiped was Jane Goodall when all other boys adored Sylvester Stallone or some professional base/foot/basket ball player. If you were a seriously intellectual little boy, it was an astronaut. There’s something messed up in the culture when the range of ‘heros’ boys are exposed to and encouraged to be interested in is so narrow.

    Comedy bit: I was convinced that if any child should select a public figure as his or her hero and announce this choice, a poster of said public figure would be made available on the racks of posters at ‘Kmart’ etc. I felt that the lack of posters of Jane Goodall was a sort of personal injustice and kept baffling store workers by explaining, in a demanding way, that she was my hero. (But I did get to meet Dr. Goodall when I was nine, so nnnnnyaaah-nnnnyaaah to all those who had ‘Rambo’ posters.)

  137. Y’know, I wonder if male schoolteachers get and keep jobs easier, and or get paid more, because of this thing about how kids need more male role models.

    Absolutely. Male school teachers get away with a lot of slacking, especially if they are coaches. At my last district, we had a male teacher who sexually harassed colleagues for 3 years. He got away with it because of the good old boy network of principals. The administrators who forgot all about the contract or established HR practices when they wanted to get rid of a woman suddenly became very wary about wrongful dismissal when it came to their buddy.

    That’s not to say that male teachers are all slackers, but in several years of experience I’ve observed that there are two sets of expectations.

  138. @ Grafton – I am so, So, SOOOO envious that you got to meet Jane Goodall. o.o I would’ve killed to meet her when I was a kid (she was one of several personal heroes). Or now. Or at any point in the near future. She is such a cool person.

  139. @ Sniper and Grafton, re – male teachers’ greater staying power: oh, yes. And here I thought it was just my dad’s fucked-up, mafioso district. His department head drove drunk and killed someone (actually a former priest from the Catholic school I attended – which was weird, since my family are all atheists, but wev), spent a year in jail, and was welcomed back with open arms and handed the department head position again, and the higher salary that came with it, over my dad, who worked there for over thirty years and had exactly *zero* vehicular manslaughter convictions. ‘Cause, you know, poor misunderstood dude had suffered enough, or something, and was clearly a wonderful role model.

    (They really, really didn’t like my dad there, boat-rocker that he was, what-with his using Howard Zinn as his textbook; giving detention to football players – on game days, no less! oh noez! – when they sexually harassed and assaulted girls in his classes instead of conveniently not seeing it; wearing his admittedly obnoxious anti-standardized testing t-shirts on casual Fridays; leaving his highly-political and satirical letters-to-the-editor posted in the faculty room, etc. A student took a swing at him a few months before he retired last year, and I’m frankly surprised it wasn’t a member of the administration instead. Oh, how I love that big silly hippie – I should probably call him tomorrow).

  140. lucizoe, how very creepy. My HS principal was known to put his hand on the knee of any girl he had sent to his office, and they were all freaked out. I thought that was bad enough.

    HiddenTohru, hooray for knowing that Jane Goodall is totally great. I’ll raise your envy, because that time when I was nine and went to hear her lecture and got to shake her hand, Berke Breathed, the guy who drew Bloom County was there for the lecture too, and he just happened to be seated next to me and my mother and, uh, my psychotherapist, whom I had invited because this event was actually my birthday ‘party.’ It was great. Only thing that would have made it better was if she’d been talking about hyenas instead of chimpanzees.

    Additional comedy: Jane Goodall was a bad influence. In her book about her research concerning hyenas, _Innocent Killers_, she mentions how she had a baby and she would sing her notes into her tape-recorder to get him to sleep while she was watching hyenas from the land rover, and thus produced the amusing lullaby line, “Nelson gives a hysterical giggle as the twins lick his penis.” No doubt she put it in the book because the contrast of seeming sexual reference and lullaby is funny. I just couldn’t figure out how it could possibly metre correctly with any lullaby I knew, and so I repeated that phrase under my breath, setting it to various tunes, for a long time and in, well. The wrong places. I still can’t make it metre as a lullaby.

    And I still want a poster of her. Darn it.

  141. Well, the thing is, I think education is just a microcosm of larger society, so while there are cultural norms specific to schools, there’s also just the same old offensive crap you see in any other context, professional or otherwise. So, the good old boys get ahead and support each other, and there are women who buy into the flirt-to-get-people-to-do-what-you-want (because they think that’s where their real “power” lies). Sadly, teachers are often not much more informed about the patriarchy and its ills than any other segment of our society.

  142. @Annitspurple:

    Thanks for the clarification. I wondered about the actual program objectives versus the way in which they are actually implemented. I know there is often push back from program coordinators when asked to “broaden” the scope when administering the program. As a part of TRIO, which has the same mission, but is still administered in the same narrow way, I wondered why students who meet other program criteria aren’t accessing the program. It seems most programs have become de facto programs for students of color, which is not entirely a bad thing, despite not being the original mission.

    Though the programs policies are written in coded language (conflating race with class) and that probably explains why it wouldn’t immediately occur to other qualifying groups to apply.

    That said, I have observed the way in which these programs tend to provide a remedial component/college readiness blah blah blah and often that effort is focused primarily on students of color, without regard to class status. In a similar way that International students of color still are required to provide TOEFL scores despite originating from countries where English is the primary language.

    It’s early, so my brain is still booting up.

    Thanks for clarifying McNair for me. It’s one of those programs I understand, but don’t really understand. In the sense I don’t always believe it is actually doing what it was designed to do, but haven’t always paused to consider why.

  143. @ Grafton – … I have no words. YOU LUCKY PERSON YOU. Admittedly, Berke Breathed was more my brother’s hero than mine, but I still ended up reading all of their Bloom County books (and that strip that happened after Bloom County, I forget what it was called). I have a great amount of respect for him.

    And now you have me singing that line in my head along to lullabies I know. XD It must not be a very well-known one.

  144. FWIW, it ain’t the first time the patriarchy’s gotten its knickers in a twist about women doing too well in higher ed. When I was having my own fit about the NPR piece, I came across an excellent paper on the history of women in college.

    Not long after women were allowed to go to college, men were worried about them being too good at it. Coed policies got rolled back or capped, and the “Feminization” argument reared its ugly head.

    And here I thought I’d never have the pleasure of living in the early 20th century. My bad.

    One thing to keep in mind about this issue is the financial agendas of the colleges and universities making what amounts to an argument, however contrived, for maintaining some artbitrary level of diversity. An unwritten bias toward male applicants without a ban or a public cap on female admits means encouraging more men to apply without discouraging women from same. This adds up to more application fees and an even more impressive admit ratio, in addition to a not-so-tacit shoring up of the patriarchy.

    Just another twist in the games people play with equal rights…

    I’ll be watching to see what the US Commission on Civil Rights digs up in its investigation. I did think the NPR piece was abominably shallow, and I’m an NPR addict.

    Not unrelated, did you guys see that Women Are Overtaking Men in the U.S.? Combine all those degrees with the BoL stats, and we’re apparently in charge of everything. Who knew?

    (P.S. I think this might be my first comment, although I’ve been lurking for a long time. Hi!)

  145. HT — clearly we are the same person. My brother loved Breathed, did not want to see Goodall, regretted it.

    Do not sing the Nelson lullaby to the 4th grade.

  146. Grafton, it’s interesting and cool that your hero was Jane Goodall. I remember it took some time for me to grow up enough to not automatically pick The Girl as my favorite character in a TV show. I’m still not gender-blind when it comes to identifying with fictional characters or seeing someone as a role model.

    Also, Jane Goodall + hyenas sounds awesome. I didn’t realize that she’d done hyena research. I saw her on The Daily Show recently, though, which was also awesome.

  147. I suspect it’s innate for children to identify with and model their behavior after people of their gender, and that my Goodall-worship was one of many examples of Socialization: He’s Doing It Rong that can be found in my personal history. I expect I did the whole ‘role model’ thing wierdly and that other kids wanted to ‘be like’ their heroes a great deal more than I. I remember not seeing the relevance of “But Jane Goodall is a girl!” in the whole, “Who is your hero you’d like to grow up to be like?” sort of conversation. I probably hadn’t mastered the do-be dichotomy.

  148. @ Grafton – That is so funny. XD I think I’ll have to share this story with my brother, he may turn the color of your monster in response.

    On the subject of role models, I remember thinking back in high school that there must be some unbalance in my psyche as a result of growing up with very few male role models, while I had all these awesome independent women in my life (my mom, my surrogate grandma, my therapist, my teachers). I had so many cool women showing me how cool women were, but I never had any men showing me how cool men could be (let’s just say my father, while in the picture, was more absent than not). These days I think that imbalance has a lot to do with the strangeness I see in men. Sometimes it’s almost to the point of sexism, where I can’t seem to see men as real thinking creatures, but other times it’s a minor point. It all depends on the dynamics of the situation. What complex creatures we humans be. @.@

  149. All of this, and yet men (demographically) still do better in the job market, with higher pay, etc. If college is biased against men, that bias doesn’t seem to be hurting them in the career arena.

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