There may be multiple reasons underlying the steep decline in male enrollments in American higher education, but I have to think that one is that so many campuses are literally "hostile environments" for guys. Through the prism of a ubiquitous and imperial feminist ideology, they're sexists, chauvinists, potential rapists, etc., etc., with lots of speech and conduct codes in place ready to pounce. It's pretty easy for the boys to get into lots of trouble, and - as KC Johnson illustrates in this piece about an incident at Brown over at Minding The Campus - well nigh impossible to get out of it. An outrage, you say, but one that's also becoming commonplace. How many aspiring college men, I wonder, might conclude that it just isn't worth it?
That's the message that incoming male freshmen frequently get when they arrive on campus these days, which Warren Farrell elaborates over at Minding the Campus. Despite steadily declining enrollments, increasng drop-out rates and ever lengthier times taken to graduate, men on campus nowadays face the expanding phalanx of academic feminist power, which aggressively denigrates them and claims dire victimhood in the same breath. Who can blame them if they end up packing it in or avoid going to college in the first place?
At least that's what you'd think if you didn't read anything besides the Chronicle of Higher Education or its online counterpart, Inside Higher Education. I've long lost count of the articles both of them regularly run about female college and university faculty members, who gripe endlessly about job circumstances lots of other folks would envy.
Gender equity full timers are at it again - you didn't really think, did you, that they'd run out of things to complain about? The earth-shaking injustice in their minds this time centers on college basketball: whenever double-headers featuring both men's and women's basketball teams are scheduled, the ladies usually play first, followed by the men's squad. Is that a big deal? Evidently the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights thinks so. On the basis of an anonymous complaint it received last March, OCR is now hard at work investigating several collegiate basketball conferences to determine whether, as the complainant alleges, such "sexist" scheduling demeans women's basketball. Inside Higher Education has the details here. But when you've read that, be sure to check out this recent piece by the always-lucid Christina Sommers. Feminist sports advocates, she notes, are in a big lather over the fact that men's sporting events typically draw much larger TV and live audiences than women's do. In this case, though, they aren't dealing with clandestine federal bureacrats or easily cowed college administrators, but with the actual public sports market where fans can freely adjust their TV channels or decide which games they want to attend. On that basis, female basketball teams may well see most of the crowd head for the exits if OCR decides to coerce college sports schedule makers into having the guys play first. I'm all for women playing basketball, needless to say, but if feminists win here, female athletes will likely lose.
Our friend Christina Sommers has frequently piqued the wrath of academic feminists by arguing that public education, far from favoring boys as legend has it, is loaded heavily against them and in favor of girls all through the K-12 years. See, for example, her book The War Against Boys, which makes that case very convincingly. In this article in today's American, the AEI magazine, Sommers illustrates how the "war" continues in the New York City school system's program for gifted students. Despite the fact that, statistically, there are approximately equivalent numbers of academically talented boys and girls, the selection process, especially the heavily verbal rather than quantitative orientation of the qualifying exams, is decidedly skewed in favor of girls. Not surprisingly, nearly three-fifths of the students selected for the special programs are girls. Of course, there's nothing wrong with providing talented girls with every opportunity to realize their potential. But equally talented boys are currently getting the very short end of the stick. It's simply one more example, Sommers concludes, of the fact that boys of every variety have been relegated to second-class status by feminist-dominated school systems. To my mind, the greatest irony lies in the fact that, despite the increasing dominance of academic, leadership and social awards by girls, many of them also graduate from high school with a strong sense of grievance and victimhood. Thus, the typically upscale suburbanite valedictorian on her way to an Ivy League school next Fall, with lots of scholarship support in hand, will often as not give an address explaining how things are so heavily stacked against women, and she fully expects to encounter massive discrimination in the years ahead. Her college experience, alas, isn't likely to dispel that outlook.
The American Association of University Women Action Network is pushing for passage of an idiotic bit of federal meddling in the labor market, the Paycheck Fairness Act. We're told that this is "a man's issue, too" because some men might benefit if his spouse or significant other received a mandatory pay increase. So paying women more is good for everyone! Naturally, there is no consideration whatsoever of the unseen costs and unintended consequences that would have a deleterious impact on women and men. Evidently, AAUW members are expected to check their thinking caps at the door and just go along with their leadership. Also delightfully absurd is the admonition to "give Dad the gift of AAUW membership for Father's Day" because "it literally pays dividends." No, it doesn't pay dividends at all. Not literally. Not even figuratively.
John Tierney has an interesting piece in today's New York Times about the ongoing controversy over what an "equitable" proportion of female faculty in scientific fields such as physics, aeronautics or engineering might be. His title - "Daring to Discuss Women in Science" - indicates how politically radioactive that subject continues to be, although perhaps we can take heart from the fact that it's appearing in the Times. Given the ubiquitous presumption that male/female statistical disparities are attributable to entrenched "bias," Tierney asks whether the "gender equity" legislation just passed by the House of Representatives would be amenable to at least considering some pretty solid evidence that other factors may be at work as well. Echoing the seminal work of Christina Sommers which we noted here last week, he observes that in any case, we're talking about a relatively small number of people, since most of us, male or female, aren't especially talented in the hard sciences, and tend to fall in the middle of most statistical measurements. A small number of men, however, score both much lower AND much higher than the comparable number of women in mathematically oriented scientific fields such as those noted above. If this is true, then perhaps we cannot continue to assume that social factors alone account for differences in the ratios between men and women. In any case, it's striking that male/female disparities are much more pronounced in a number of other fields, such as English Literature, psychology, veterinary science and special education, but aren't attracting the solicitude of Congress or "gender equity" activists on campus. Go figure. Be that as it may, it's fine with us if you want to discuss "women in science" at this page, so feel free to let us know what you think. We won't try to prevent you from getting tenure or seek to have you sacked from your job as a college president.
As the House of Representatives approaches a vote on the America Competes Reathorization Act, our long-time friend Christina Sommers takes note of an obscure section tucked deeply within the bill which could have major consequences for academic searches in the sciences or engineering. On the face of it, the act seems like a good thing, intended to maintain an American competitive advantage in the burgeoning global economy. But take a look, Sommers tells us, at that unheralded little section the, "Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Science and Engineering Amendment." If that provision becomes law as seems likely, Sommers argues, we can expect to see an explosion of "gender bias" and "gender equity" workshops intended to redress the "underutilization" of women in aeronautics, physics and mathematics, under the aggressive leadership, no less, of the White House Office of Science and Technology. "Gender Equity" in the sciences, of course, has long been chief among the perpetual discontents of academic feminists, a remaining citadel of entrenched sexism and male domination. Now, it seems, they are about to add substantial federal clout to their arsenal.
Kudos to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for raising an issue that the higher education establishment would rather keep buried. The commission's latest inquiry involves suspected gender discrimination on campuses, where women are approaching 60 percent of the applicant pool. As this report indicates, women are “more plentiful” in college admissions, no matter that feminist activists have been carping for years about supposed discrimination against females. The question arises whether, bowing to "reverse" gender bias, campuses are now limiting the number of women they admit so as to increase the ranks of less meritorious men. Jennifer Rubin at Commentary remarks aptly on this ironic turn of events:
First, where are the Justice Department and so-called feminist groups? They apparently don’t much care if women are now on the short end of gender preferences. It’s all about “diversity,” you see. And second, one realizes how misplaced has been the hue and cry about anti-female discrimination in education. Apparently there is no civil-rights or other organization upset that men now make up only 40 percent of the college-admissions pool. Are they being discriminated against? Are their educational needs being ignored? We don’t know, and no one seems interested in finding out why.