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Widening college enrollment gap between men and women

From the Wall Street Journal:

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5 per cent, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71 per cent of the decline. This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65 per cent of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59 per cent of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Assuming that there is some connection between having a higher education qualification and pay (that connection is not by any means set in stone) then if this trend continues, not only will it eliminate any alleged “pay gap” to the detriment of women, but push it another way. Of course, it might be that some US men have worked out that college in many ways is a waste of their time, a cesspit of wokery and pointless diversions, and they’d be better off learning code, or industrial welding, or something that doesn’t saddle them with big debts.

Even so, the male/female college attendance gap in the US, and quite possibly in a few other nations, appears to be one of those stories that very clearly pushes against a standard narrative of how the cards are stacked in favour of we toxic males and that therefore this needs to be fixed in some way. In my day job, I routinely get lots of emails from banks, wealth managers and other firms going on about the wonders of diversity, etc, and rarely, if ever, is this college attendance point brought up. I have raised it once or twice with people, and it gets a sort of muffled response, if at all.

A few more paragraphs from the WSJ article, which is behind a paywall:

Over the course of their working lives, American college graduates earn more than a million dollars beyond those with only a high-school diploma, and a university diploma is required for many jobs as well as most professions, technical work and positions of influence.

Yet skyrocketing education costs have made college more risky today than for past generations, potentially saddling graduates in lower-paying careers—as well as those who drop out—with student loans they can’t repay.

Social science researchers cite distractions and obstacles to education that weigh more on boys and young men, including videogames, pornography, increased fatherlessness and cases of overdiagnosis of boyhood restlessness and related medications.

Men in interviews around the U.S. said they quit school or didn’t enroll because they didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Many said they wanted to make money after high school.

28 comments to Widening college enrollment gap between men and women

  • WindyPants

    And how many of the women started the course identifying as men?

  • decnine

    “American college graduates earn more than a million dollars beyond those with only a high-school diploma”

    OK, but what was the difference in lifetime disposable income? Those college debts don’t pay themselves.

  • bobby b

    “Over the course of their working lives, American college graduates earn more than a million dollars beyond those with only a high-school diploma, and a university diploma is required for many jobs as well as most professions, technical work and positions of influence.”

    Little data is available for the last fifteen to twenty years of college graduates, as “over the course of their working lives” has a bit to go. And college has changed in that time, drastically. The most common statement I hear now from recent grads is that the earning boost just isn’t there like it used to be – that the income differential doesn’t even pay off the loans required by the much-higher-cost colleges. The colleges, through price increases, are harvesting off that differential for themselves. In the commodification of degrees, the colleges are acting as the exchanges, taking the profit and leaving just enough to induce enrollees.

    If “everyone” goes to college, there obviously won’t be the elite tag on a degree that has existed in the past. Now, you are more likely to be a highly-credentialed barista than an upwardly-mobile professional, and the $70k in average loans are one of the very few debts no longer dischargable in bankruptcy.

    Of course, as always, the top ten or twenty percent (by IQ) of any age group is usually going to do quite well in income comparatively, and since most of this group does end up in college – male and female – the numbers will always be skewed by them. But for the masses of the 40%-80% who are now expected to attend, it’s a losing game.

    So perhaps men – boys – remain the smart ones. Ask me again in twenty years. I do know that female suicide rates seem to be exploding.

  • bobby b

    Quick note: Average four-year-college loans outstanding at graduation in the US seems to be around $60,000.00. On top of that, people generally do pay (average) about $20k in current funds for school costs. Put that money into an index fund at 18, make 6%, and you’re close to $900k when you retire at 60. Plus you gain four years on the climb up the income ladder.

    One of the least consumer-friendly business arrangements is the retailer who partners up with a slightly predatory lender. That’s like colleges and student-loan lenders now. They’re very good at harvesting dollars out of borrowers’ hopes for the future. I paid about $7k per year. Same school now is $86k.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    The world is becoming a Monty Python sketch! I distinctly remember a line like- “I could have been a miner, but I didn’t have the Latin.” If we all start going to Uni, will there appear a higher level, called Quarterly qualifications? Will we need licences to operate knives, or ovens?

  • bobby b

    (Sorry, back again.) Even worse:

    My college now at $86k/yr. for 4 years = $344k.

    Invest THAT for 42 years at 6% return. Now you’re at $4,000,000.00.

    You need to make four million dollars more over the course of your working life just to break even if you attend my old school.

  • eb

    $4m, after tax!

    Also, what’s the breakup in terms the type of degrees done by women compared to men.

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    Given what is taught at our hallowed places of higher learning–or not taught–and what is allowed to be said and what is banned among the students (and one supposes, the academics too) then it becomes obvious that there is little point for the majority, whether male or female or in-between, in going to University.

    However as a way of postponing the realities of life and facing up to responsibilities, then the modern university provides an increasingly expensive if temporary ‘safe space’ for the attendees. At least it gives them a sort of voice to regularly demand that all student debt be cancelled.

  • Bruce

    The term, “creeping credentialism” has been around for a while.

    In keeping with this “qualification inflation”, I’d say “credentialism” is now up to a steady canter, at least.

    Whether it has a fall at the next hurdle or water hazard remains to be seen. As long as the punters taxes continue to contribute to the mess, a busted fetlock seems a long, expensive way off.

  • TomJ

    Nicholas, I think you may be conflating 2 sketches:
    1. Peter Cook – A miner lamenting “I could have been a judge, but I didn’t have the Latin.” https://youtu.be/ofUZNynYXzM
    2. Pythons’s northern playwright – https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7u377t

  • APL

    Albion’s Blue Front Door: “and what is allowed to be said and what is banned among the students (and one supposes, the academics too) then it becomes obvious that there is little point for the majority, whether male or female or in-between, in going to University.”

    But at least the ladies ‘feel safe’. And, the less mansplaining the better, no?

    It’s funny how women weren’t satisfied with ( frequently excellent ) segregated education, demanding co-ed. Guess what, now the men seem to want nothing to do with yet another feminized ‘space’.

    I’m old enough to remember, some time around the ’70s or ’80s women feminists demanding entry to ‘mens’ clubs, because apparently, that was where all the big influential deals went on.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Coed education almost inevitably turns to shit eventually.

  • MadRocketSci

    However as a way of postponing the realities of life and facing up to responsibilities, then the modern university provides an increasingly expensive if temporary ‘safe space’ for the attendees.

    This is the edge case where, IMO, the Libertarians fail philosophically relative to the conservatives. (Of course, both fail practically, since we’re both as doomed as the Comanches, having no viable strategy to preserve our way of life in the face of inexorable leftist destruction.)

    Children aren’t adults. They don’t know what they want to do with their lives, and *can’t* know what they want to do with their lives, until they’ve had the opportunity to live. Age apparently has nothing to do with it. Raise them in a dark box with a TV screen and “textbooks” (more or less what we’re doing to them), and all they’ll have to go on is the information they’ve been fed and only understand (at best) at an intellectual level, and expectations that society gives them. When they all march off to college in a daze, they’re doing as their parents command on the advice that an immiserated existence of de-facto slavery is the result of any other course. “You’d better be the next Einstein or Edison, because anything that’s been done before is being done in China!” was how it was put to me: An impossible bar to clear in an impossible economy.

    This is usually 180 degrees wrong, but it takes a certain obstinate inborn skepticism for the advice of society to believe this when you have no information to go on. *That’s* the reason for the gender reversal in college. That and a different sort of status drive in men than women.

    So basically, adults are allowing children to be preyed on by predatory organizations that hold their imagined future hostage, signing their lives away to predatory lenders. The lending laws being written to forbid bankruptcy makes this a sort of enslavement of children. We all agree on this, but Libertarians blame the children for not understanding consequences decades down the road in a life they haven’t been able to start living yet. (No time for life in cram school!) In some flavor of Libertopia, contracts have no termination clauses, and the safeties are off – you’d better be a stone-cold-sober adult at all times!

    IMO, in a “civilized” society, we would hang phone scammers in public if they prey on old senile retirees. One vision of civilization (the more conservative one) is one where the interests of the citizens are protected by not allowing predation. The libertarian vision of civilization is one where anything goes as long as you don’t threaten violence. (When the lenders show up threatening violence through the police though, that’s something different.) The overlap on the Venn diagram are things like robbery and assult, but the non-overlapping areas contain things like what we’re doing to kids by making them run this Red Queen’s Race into debt-slavery.

  • andyinsdca

    Yesterday (can’t find the bloody thing now), someone tweeted the best way to get white males to become leftists was to get them into college (i.e. indoctrinate them) and this tweeter was whining (whinging) about the massive decline in enrollment of men at college. Seems like a win-win for men to stay out of college.

  • Jim

    Its a general principle that any organisation that becomes to be dominated by women is one that is in terminal decline. Women only show up in numbers in an organisation when its become hidebound and set in its ways, and well past its best. Men will be found in the more risky and uncertain sectors of society. Thus to me this information tells me that the days of a university education meaning much are long gone, and all that is left is for universities to become even more female dominated and even less relevant to where wealth is generated than they have ever been.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    It’s funny how women weren’t satisfied with ( frequently excellent ) segregated education, demanding co-ed

    I certainly recall reading that a lot of all-women ed. institutions were excellent in their standards, and it does seem in a way kind of odd that they were so keen to give this up. It is not as if being in a woman’s school or college meant they were banned from meeting males, anyway. (It did not stop my mother from having boyfriends.)

    The key of course is choice. Being a good radical classical liberal, this is something that parents and students themselves should be able to judge, and for the State to keep well out of it.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Some may find this monologue from podcaster and author “Rollo Tomassi” of interest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4vcaWbaLwE

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5 per cent”

    That makes a total of 100% who are either women or men. Why aren’t the trans-ideologues up in arms about this?

  • I’m old enough to remember, some time around the ’70s or ’80s women feminists demanding entry to ‘mens’ clubs, because apparently, that was where all the big influential deals went on.

    Why do you think lots of deals are now concluded in places like Spearmint Rhino? So the boys can have their fun without having to worry about being reported to HR by some pointy elbowed feminazi.

    …and yes, the quid pro quo remains the same.

  • Paul Marks

    Like most modern schools. most modern universities concentrate on teaching “correct” opinions and attitudes – if one dissents, one is punished.

    So the question J.P. is why should any man (or woman) with an independent mind, and self respect, go to a university that will expect total acceptance of the “Woke” (Frankfurt School Marxist) world view?

    “The article explains why – you have to do well at school and university to get a good job”.

    That is the problem right there. A society where, for example, to be an engineer a person must ritually denounce “racism”, “sexism”, “transphobia” and so on – and be perpetually terrified of any word they say being used as a reason to “cancel” them, is not long going to have bridges that stand up and machines that work.

    The education system no longer “transmits culture to the next generation” – it is filled with rabid hatred for traditional culture (and society), and it is increasingly not transmitting instrumental knowledge either.

    If young men are seeing this (and avoiding American universities and the vast DEBT a person gets by going them) – perhaps those young men are correct.

    “But they will not get jobs” – when things collapse (and it is WHEN – not if) there are not going to be these “good jobs”. So what is the point of these young men going to “Woke” brainwashing centres and ritually humiliating themselves for years?

  • Paul Marks

    I forget who it was on Samizdata who recently cited Glenn Reynolds – but they were correct to do so.

    “The left identify a respected institution – they then kill it, skin it, wear its skin as a suit, and demand the respect the institution earned when it was alive”.

    That sums up most modern American schools and universities. Not all – but most.

    “But the institutions still care about human lives” – no they do not, not in the sense of SAVING human lives.

    Remember that the international medical (and other) authorities both covered up the origins of the Covid 19 (and made hero figures out of Tony Fauci and Peter Daszak – and they KNEW what these men had done) and also SMEARED the Early Treatment of Covid 19. And that smearing cost a vast number of human lives.

    “It does not matter how many people die – as long as we get Trump out, and can proceed with Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development, Public Private Partnership, Stakeholder Capitalism, World Corporate Governance. One can not make an omelette without breaking eggs!”.

    Who wants to be part of that?

    Young men are better off finding people who can teach them useful skills – and paying them directly (if not with money – then with work). As for culture – it can still be found, if young men make a real effort they can discover it. Many will not do so (because it is hard) – but I do not know what to do about that.

    Young women will be fine – Hollywood films and television shows insists that young women can beat up young men with ease.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    TomJ, you might be right.

  • John Lewis

    I was studying (loosely) at Newcastle University in 1978 when the gals started flexing their muscles and demanded that the popular ground floor watering hole “The Men’s Bar” be renamed.

    Anyone could drink in it but that wasn’t the point, the name simply had to go.

    This incidentally was the site of the “drink the bar” freshers ritual downing a half pint from each of 17 pumps in turn. The lemonade and coke towards the end were the cause of many disasters. Funnily enough I don’t recall a single woman even attempting it.

  • Paul Marks

    John Lewis – no-no-on. Woman are vastly stronger (and so on) than men – every Hollywood film and television show says so.

    Just as men and women who repeat back whatever their teachers and university lecturers tell them to say, are the most intelligent – indeed rebels, “the resistance”.

    From Hollywood to Harvard. the establishment are united in teaching that the mark of a profound and independent thinker is that they agree with everything their teachers and professors say, including all the contradictions.

    That is the road to academic success and a “good job” – agree with everything, no matter how absurd and contradictory it is.

    Indeed the more absurd and contradictory it is – the more you must agree with it. That is the mark of an educated person. And that is the road to the Holy Grail – the Good Job in the government or corporate bureaucracy.

    I do not see a “Redneck” fitting in with this – or wanting to.

  • JDN

    Does the WSJ article provide a breakdown of the majors that male and female enrollees are in? And in which fields the gender gap is widening? (the bane of so many related discussions is the omission, or just neglect, of important details like that).

    I’d say this is great news if men are bailing out of getting useless degrees.

    [Men] didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Men are apparently getting smarter.

  • Flubber

    “The left identify a respected institution – they then kill it, skin it, wear its skin as a suit, and demand the respect the institution earned when it was alive”.

    I think the original version of this was from @iowahawk, David Burge.

  • Sean

    Any figures on the gap between gender studies and particle physics degrees conferred? Or do they consider all degrees to be the same?

  • Paul Marks

    Flubber – thank you, when I checked the blog of Professor Reynolds he was writing as if American institutions were still alive, it does seem more like David Burge (the Iowa Hawk).

    JDN ad Sean.

    The left are talking control over what passes for the teaching of physical sciences – there is still a difference between physics and “gender studies”, but the difference is being undermined.

    As I have already pointed out – you can be the best scientist in the world, and if you say something that is not “Woke” you are OUT.

    Soon all that will be matter (in any subject) is being “Woke” – i.e. being Frankfurt School Marxist.

    “But the way you have designed this bridge means it will collapse” – “Shut up you RACIST!”.

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