Affirmative action for males

With women earning 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees, some private liberal arts colleges are practicing affirmative action for male applicants to preserve a gender balance in enrollment. Private colleges have the legal right to discriminate against women, but don’t like to publicize it.  Now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating whether the practice is widespread. From Inside Higher Education:

. . . the Civil Rights Commission’s inquiry is based on concerns about another part of Title IX — its requirement that colleges provide equitable athletic opportunities to male and female athletes. A theory behind the inquiry, outlined in the proposal used to launch the probe, is that colleges may be favoring men in admissions because they are worried about gender-neutral changes they might otherwise use to attract more male students. Foremost among such strategies would be adding more male athletic teams, a move some colleges may be reluctant to make out of fear of the expense of then being required to add more women’s teams.

Look at the underlying issue, Richard Whitmire at Why Boys Fail. Too many boys do so poorly in school that they’re not prepared for college or not motivated to try it. Why?

Update: Dr. Helen has more, plus a plug for Whitmire’s upcoming book, Why Boys Fail.

About Joanne


  1. School is too nannified, too PC, too boring for boys. Schools took away the only method that works for many boys – serious phonetic training – and, as a consequence, many are functionally illiterate. Math, which many of them loved and did well in, has become a mushy mess. As a result, neither boys nor girls understand it. Trust me, I teach Physical Science, and they REALLY don’t understand math, although some can use calculators fairly well.

  2. Maybe it’s because as little outlet as there was for the male, competitive instinct in the scholastic realm previously now it’s seen as positively pathological and thus to be everywhere suppressed. A natural drive frustrated doesn’t just conveniently dissipate. It extracts a penalty and frustration, depression, apathy and rejection are those penalties.

    There’s always a price to be be paid but as long as those in a position to mandate the suppression of normal, health drives don’t have to concern themselves with answering for their decisions there’s no harm. At least not to the people who matter.

  3. Is it role models? There are almost no male elementary school teachers. Most of the volunteering in the school is done by moms. Most of the school parent organizations are run and populated by moms. Who makes sure students follow through with school work, moms or dads?

  4. Pm,

    Huh ? PTA, volunteering, following up with homework was always done by moms. That wasn’t the cause of the imbalance before.

    Looks to me that nearly all of the premises here are wrong.

    Intead of looking at “the underlying issue” and speaking of the students, perhaps someone should just point out that the underlying issue is the federal government’s forced “equitable opportunities” in the first place. If you want to fix it, less federal intrusion would be a start.

    Then maybe pushing back on the notion that the only good is for men to go to college. Huh, with two wars on, why would anyone join the military? With jobs being outsourced, why in the world would anyone want to learn a trade?

    How about we consider that perhaps “too many boys do poorly” in school is a feature, not a bug, for them. That college offers little in the way of increased knowledge, except of a society that’s anti man, anti strength, and anti America.

    The point of a university was an education, an entry into a career path, and also an introduction to a group of potential mates that were of good quality. The career path is tenuous at best now with anything but a STEM path; the education is minimal; and who wants to marry a young lady educated in today’s colleges? Why would a young man want that?

    An underlying disastrous K-12 education is a different problem. It should be fixed for its own reasons, not because of some lack of adult males in college.

  5. I bet if you pared away a lot of the useless majors, you would see there isn’t much of a lack of males.

    Engineering schools don’t tilt the other way, as far as I know.

    Perhaps we should be concerned that there may be a lot of women wasting their time in college on worthless “education” [such as women’s studies] than that there aren’t very men doing the same.

  6. Meep has a great point. Many young men just don’t want to go to the schools that are practicing “male” affirmative action.

    And let’s face it–boys do just fine on the SAT. If preferences are being granted, it’s in the area of grades. And grades are a fraud, so who cares? Admissions should be ignoring grades more, not less.

  7. superdestroyer says:

    I have always found it amazing that the schools are are anti-male or too feminist, seem very capable of educating Asians, Jews, and the male children of the elite in this country.

    Maybe part of the problem is the way that the white middle class is raising boys. Yes, they are different than girls but boys maybe raised to be quitters (see sports) instead of problem solvers.

  8. tim-10-ber says:

    Superdestroyer — if what you say is too be believed then the fault lies primarily on the government/default schools…this is not true in private schools…

    I put this on educators, women’s lib and everything else in that category. Girls needed encouragement decades ago and affirmative action was very helpful. However the pendulum, as it normally does, swung way to far and the white male was left out. In government schools the black males suffers much, much more and these trends continue. Educators and government default schools ignore these kids that need help to understand how society works and how they can be successful.

    For all boys, girls, too, competition is very healthy. Yet government educators are too damn scared of harming the child’s self esteem. No wonder this country is struggling…geez…

    Oh yeah, welfare is one of the worse things that could ever have happened to the black family. It was never ever intended to be a way to support one’s self…it was to be a safety net yet all it has done is destroy the black family….

    Government…the more they are involved the worse things become…government schools are the biggest example of this…

    yes…i am the mother of two males who are doing quite well…because of their family and we finally exited the default/government schools of our community…high quality private schools are awesome!

  9. Scrooge McDuck says:

    Looks to me that nearly all of the premises here are wrong.

    We are so fortunate to have you.

  10. The issue of boys not doing well in K-12 or higher education is of no surprise to me, as when I was in high school, the main goal of why we were there was to actually LEARN something.

    In recent studies, it has been proven that by the time a male graduates from high school (assuming he manages to do so), he is at least a full grade level behind in reading, and one to one and one-half behind in math.

    The lack of two parent households, role models, and the idea that it’s cool to be the class screwup or Mr. sex machine is common on school campuses today, and is not likely to change in the near future.

    As more women become professionals, they’re going to find it incredibly difficult to find a long term relationship with a male with roughly equal educational background (it’s becoming very acute in Canada these days).

    I would agree that the elimination of phonics from schools is probably the most damaging thing which has been done to literacy of the current generation of students compared to students who grew up with phonics instruction.

    In math, the lack of knowledge that students possess when it comes to addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, and fractions is appalling as well (you’ll never be able to succeed in higher math without understanding fractions – i.e. algebra, geometry, trig, pre-calc or calc). I blame the overuse of electronic calculators (which weren’t affordable until about the early 80’s) for damaging the math ability of many students (want proof, watch a person under 25 try to make change when the cash register breaks down, or if they have to figure out sales tax by hand).

  11. Devilbunny says:

    I think one of Helen’s commenters had it right: if you’re male, and not particularly academic, it’s silly to go to college – a plumber, electrician, or other skilled tradesman will make far more money than somebody that barely graduates from college. Since only about 25% of Americans earn a college degree, we’re generally talking about the 70-80th percentile of humanity. They’re not knuckle-dragging morons.

  12. Allison,

    My hypothesis was that with other inhibiting factors for women attending college removed, perhaps role models have become more important.

    Perhaps there is better data than this, but this data seems to indicate a steady rise in female college enrollment:

    So whatever the reason for the trend I’d guess some slow acting cultural changes.

  13. My brother started school in the 40s and I started in the early 50s and almost all of the 1-8 teachers were women, as were most of the HS teachers. However, even the middle-aged/elderly spinsters and nuns seemed to understand boys better than the teachers my kids had. Of course, almost all kids had two, married parents at home, except in the case of widowhood.

  14. Too many boys do so poorly in school that they’re not prepared for college or not motivated to try it. Why?

    The school system is unprepared to deal with such issues, mainly because it is not designed to concern itself with the needs of students in general. teachers always ask eachother how to motivate students. They never ask students.

    For more on this notion:


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