College & Workforce Readiness Opinion

The Muddled Politics of Male Gender Preferences

By Richard Whitmire — March 18, 2011 1 min read
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As Richard Kahlenberg points out in the Chronicle, the issue of colleges reaching deeper into their applicant pools to draw in male candidates muddies the political waters. The groups you would expect to complain the loudest about discrimination against women -- national feminist groups and the American Association of University Women -- are mute.

Why are they okay with discriminating against females? After watching the issue for years I’ve come up with three explanations.

First, liberals want to safeguard the freedoms granted to admissions officials to pick the freshman class they want, which includes putting the thumb down to favor minorities. They have a good point. Male preferences, for example, are no different from favoring a potential star quarterback, cello player or legacy admit whose parents are likely to finance a new dorm.

Second reason: Women have an interest in a gender balanced campus. Based on what I’ve observed at gender-imbalanced campuses, some men take advantage of their relative scarcity and become abusive.

The final reason is that these same national groups essentially ban discussions of the lopsided gender balances on college campuses. Talking about women pushing 60 percent of undergraduate classes raises awkward issues for group such as the AAUW. If women dominate college campuses, what’s the point of having the group?

The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.