kitchen table math, the sequel: tipping point, part 2

Sunday, February 27, 2011

tipping point, part 2

The Worthwhile Canadian Initiative post about a gender tipping point in occupations reminded me of this passage from a TIME story on college admissions:
Roughly 58% of undergraduates nationally are female, and the girl-boy ratio will probably tip past 60-40 in a few years. The divide is even worse for black males, who are outnumbered on campus by black females 2 to 1.

...[C]colleges are quietly stripping the pastels from brochures and launching Xbox tournaments to try to close the gap in the quality and quantity of boys applying. "It's a gross generalization that slacker boys get in over high-performing girls," says Jennifer Delahunty, dean of admissions at Kenyon College, "but developmentally, girls bring more to the table than boys, and the disparity has gotten greater in recent years."

Of course, admitting this is taboo, as Delahunty learned two years ago. She was in marathon committee meetings, stacking glorious girls on the waiting list while less accomplished boys wiggled through, when she got an e-mail informing her that her own daughter had been wait-listed. The experience inspired her to write a confessional Op-Ed, "To All the Girls I've Rejected," for the New York Times, responses to which lit up her inbox.


But when it comes to private-college admissions, the law is murky, the process opaque, the needs of the institution primary. This includes ensuring that the freshman class is not 70-30 female, because that makes the school less attractive to male and female applicants alike. U.S. News & World Report found that the admissions rate of men at the College of William and Mary, for example, was an average of 12 percentage points higher than that of women--because, as the admissions director memorably told the magazine, "even women who enroll ... expect to see men on campus. It's not the College of Mary and Mary; it's the College of William and Mary."
If there is a gender tipping point phenomenon in occupations, should we expect to see the same (or similar) phenomenon in college applications and enrollment?

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