Man Quotas

Jennifer Delahunty Britz, the dean of admissions for Kenyon, writes an op-ed in the Times apologizing to all the girls that she’s had to reject in order to keep a 50/50 ratio on campus. 

Had she been a male applicant, there would have been little, if any, hesitation to admit. The reality is that because young men are rarer, they’re more valued applicants. Today, two-thirds of colleges and universities report that they get more female than male applicants, and more than 56 percent of undergraduates nationwide are women. Demographers predict that by 2009, only 42 percent of all baccalaureate degrees awarded in the United States will be given to men.

We have told today’s young women that the world is their oyster; the problem is, so many of them believed us that the standards for admission to today’s most selective colleges are stiffer for women than men. How’s that for an unintended consequence of the women’s liberation movement?

Admissions officers have to let underqualified men into their schools in order to assure that the man quota is met.  If there aren’t enough men, then the school becomes unattractive to upcoming students, Britz writes.  Ew.  Nobody complains when schools are man-heavy.

Good Lord, this is horseshit on so many levels.  Where are the affirmative action haters?  Why aren’t they up in arms about this? 

In one week, we have worried that there aren’t enough women succeeding at top positions and also that there are too many girls succeeding.  I’m confused.

(A pile of years ago, I received a hand written acceptance letter from Kenyon.  They liked my essay, and I liked their creative writing department. They even coughed up some money, but not enough.  Huge soft spot for that school.)

UPDATE We’ve already had a long and interesting discussion about why boys are falling behind girls in school. We said biology was a factor. Boys also may feel like they have a range of jobs available to them without a college degree.
Now, the question is what to do about this. I believe we can nuture boys in elementary school, without holding back the girls. The boys may need a different methods, and it’s worth spending some time thinking about it. Some of my commenters also thought that single sex schools might be the ticket.
These 50/50 quotas for college admission rub me the wrong way. Quotas should be a last resort, a method for rectifying great social wrongs. I feel very uncomfortable having different standards for acceptance for boys and girls just to insure that frat parties have a good mix. I understand that schools are a business and a good frat parties are part of the draw, but I still feel that quotas will lead to worse results — discouraging girls from trying hard in school.
Lindsay puts some thought into this question.
UPDATE2 Read Tim Burke with comments from me.

14 thoughts on “Man Quotas

  1. “Where are the affirmative action haters? Why aren’t they up in arms about this?”
    I for one wasn’t aware that there were colleges that consciously tried to maintain a 50-50 balance of genders (Millsaps was about 54-46 female, I think; no clue what Duke is). But, yeah, it’s horseshit.
    Of course, the classic affirmative action argument is that these women will be successful at other institutions, and thus aren’t actually harmed by the practice, and (per Grutter) the men will contribute to the understanding by the women who are admitted that out in the “real world” they will have to deal with people who have penises.
    Doubtless that’s small comfort to the young women who get Kenyon’s rejection letters, or otherwise are the target of Britz’s (or Kenyon’s faculty’s, or whoever sets these quotas’) conscious decision to discriminate against them.

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  2. Mind you, I’m not even opposed to affirmative action that is narrowly tailored to ameliorate past discrimination at said institutions–for example, at institutions that historically discriminated against African-Americans and other minorities. So maybe I’m not the hater you’re looking for 🙂

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  3. Interesting, I haven’t really read much about the sexes balancing act in college. I have however thought about it with respect to graduate school. My (quant driven) busines school kept a standard ratio of 30% women for some time, realistically the application ratio was (significantly) different, therefore men were likely held to a stricter admission standard. By the way, that is not to say that they were not qualified ( the school turned away many qualified applicants).

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  4. Good lord, this has suddenly made me furious about something I blindly accepted years ago as a “temporary corrective measure”.
    My historically women-only Oxford college was going mixed the year I applied. We all “knew” the men who got in that year had it easy – presumably few had applied to this college as their first choice, and suddenly they had a winning ticket in the arcane academic lottery of the Oxbridge college system.
    Looking back, it’s not so funny how gracious the college’s women students were about the gender boost the university’s male applicants got that year to balance the new mixed student body.
    Society seems to tell women: ‘just hang on, be “better” than a man, it’ll all even out eventually.’ And the message to men? ‘don’t worry chaps, we’ll correct in your favor today!”
    Horseshit, indeed.

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  5. I don’t think it’s a problem to balance for gender – socially, it’d be a pain to be at a college that was 2/3 women, and that’s important. (I also think affirmative action in other ways is great, and this tends to be very unfair to talented East Coasters, private school grades, etc.) And I do think people would be up in arms if there were more men then women.

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  6. >>Doubtless that’s small comfort to the young women who get Kenyon’s rejection letters, or otherwise are the target of Britz’s (or Kenyon’s faculty’s, or whoever sets these quotas’) conscious decision to discriminate against them.
    So, let me get this straight…when colleges consider gender and fail to give entrance to applicants based strictly on merit, it’s “discrimination”, but when affirmative action is used to give preference based on race and based NOT strictly on merit, it’s NOT “discrimination”??
    I’m amazed how you’re so unable to see the hypocrisy in your thinking. Wait a sec…being a part of higher education for almost 20 years now, then again, I’m not.

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  7. You know, instead of going on about how unfair it is to hold female applicants to higher standards, why don’t you stop and think about what’s really going on?
    The data show that the gender disparity in college enrollment is clearly linked to economic class. (In other words, if a male comes from a lower economic level, he is less likely to attend college, while at middle- to upper-level incomes, the gender ratio is almost 50/50.)
    This shows that the issue is more about the interaction between gender and economics then about gender alone. Of course, you like to see it through the prism of gender alone.
    Basically, the market for higher education is becoming saturated, and among lower-income families, the girls are more likely to see the advantages of college than the boys, who don’t see that it’s in their interest and don’t see why they should care. This is what is accounting for the gender gap.

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  8. db – Yes, we’ve already talked here about why girls are succeeding in school, while many boys are falling behind. As a mother of two boys, I can see that boys need some extra nudging in the early grades. Before I had kids, I thought there were no gender differences beyond what society did to kids. After you have kids, it’s quite obvious that boys and girls are built differently. They grow more alike later.
    Boys also may feel like they have a range of jobs available to them without a college degree.
    Lots of issues. Here’s the post to where we talked about this.
    Now, the question is what to do about this. I believe we can nuture boys in elementary school, without holding back the girls. The boys may need a different methods and it’s worth spending some time thinking about it. Some of my commenters also thought that single sex schools might be the ticket.
    These 50/50 quotas for college admission rub me the wrong way. Quotas should be a last resort, a method for rectifying great social wrongs. I feel very uncomfortable having different standards for acceptance for boys and girls just to insure that frat parties have a good mix. I understand that schools are a business and a good frat parties are part of the draw, but I still feel that quotas will lead to worse results — discouraging girls from trying hard in school.

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  9. People should be judged on their minds by college admission officers, not the accidents of their births. The myth that geographical diversity or racial diversity will bring intellectual diversity is a fallacy, it seems to me.
    I was a pro-monarchist conservative when I applied to colleges–which should have made the diversicrats salivate–but it didn’t do me an ounce of good.
    They’re only interested if people look different but think the same.
    But you have a point, except boys are too often victimized by effeminate approaches to learning, such as reading books about “relationships” in junior high and high school. A real turnoff to reading for us guys who’d rather read about war or adventure.
    So file under “What Goes Around Comes Around.”

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  10. Not me — I think I’ll probably read or sleep or otherwise get into Spring Break. Of course, it could just be a Y-chromosome thing on my part.

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  12. Brent hit the nail on the head – ‘What goes around comes around.’
    You feminize the education system and belittle the achievements of men for long enough and of course boys are going to be put off college. This ‘man quota’ is a poetically ironic result of the fanatical push by feminists to further the cause of women in education. They’ve pushed too far.
    How does it feel? I can immediately see that many women are very upset to see affirmative action being applied in the opposite direction – in favor of the male. Now you have experienced a little of what men have had to put up with regarding decades of feminist legislation.

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