Young men and the college degree gap

Posted at 7:15 AM Apr 13, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

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According to the U.S. Department of Education, there is an increasing gap between the number of men and women getting college degrees, with women graduating at ever higher numbers and men graduating at ever lower numbers. Now, if you read this news and you think, "Holy cow, let's figure out what's going on here. Let's try to understand why this is. Let's try to understand what this means, and what we might need to do to get our heads around this," you might be a non-sexist, even feminist, thinking person.

If your reaction is to blame the whole thing on women and also tell them to fix it because they "completely dominate" now, you might be fucking stupid, and misogynist besides. Of course, you might also have a graduate degree and an MBA, but as someone who currently roams the halls of a major university getting a grad degree, I can tell you that they give degrees to all kinds of ignorant assholes, including Some Dude, Ph.D, who would like to know when all the selfish, educated women of the world will start fixing this problem and, preferably, get back to not getting more degrees than men. (His contribution to the solution is, presumably, this blog post.)


What Some Dude, Ph.D. is making a not-so-veiled argument for is "Male Studies," a pseudo-academic steaming pile of gender-essentialist horseshit that wishes to prove some kind of innate dudeness that all men share and to help the sissy boys of the world recover from their sissifiedness and be Dudes With A Capital D, the way they were really born to be, again. Think of it as the Axe Body Spray Center for Shit Associated with Your Penis.

Some Dude, Ph.D.'s bottom line question is this: "Will College Women's Centers Address *This* Gender Issue?"

To which I reply, yes, Some Dude, Ph.D., college women's centers are and have been addressing this gender issue for ages, and you're a sexist jerk for assuming they aren't without, you know, trying to find out if they are or not.

So let's lay out the true facts: before second-wave feminism in the United States, say, in 1959-60, out of 392,440 bachelor's degrees awarded, men received 254,063. In 2010, out of 1,669,000 bachelor's degrees awarded, men received 713,000. That's a switching of the sexes, and then some. No argument here. But while Some Dude, Ph.D. is having a coronary over the unthinkableness of it all, the rest of us can talk in reasonable terms that don't include immediately blaming and shaming women for having the nerve to get degrees.

Some Dude, Ph.D.:

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of University and College Women's Centers across the country, here is a partial list. A Google search of "College Women's Centers" finds almost 6,000 links on the Web. A Google search of "College Men's Centers" finds almost no links on the Internet (a few hundred, now inlcuding this post), and asks the question: Did you mean: "College Women's Centers"?

Interestingly, the aforementioned Google search of "College Women's Centers" brings up Some Dude, Ph.D.'s blog as the second hit, to give you an idea of just how rampant the evil, man-shaming college women's centers, where women conspire all day to think of new and nefarious ways to smash men with their giant hateful vaginae, are.

I'm also trying to get my head around what "College Women's Centers" means to Some Dude, Ph.D. Are we talking gender studies departments? (Because hey, Some Dude Ph.D., some time around 20 or so years ago, many people realized that men's studies were super-interesting and that studying masculinity was fascinating and necessary if we were also going to study femininity and feminism and queerness and the whole awesome spectrum of sexual identities, which is why most "college women's centers" are actually also or entirely gender centers nowadays.) Or are we talking about rape crisis centers, outreach centers, activist centers? To be sure, these are all going to be staffed at the university level by many of the same people, but I think it's important to draw some kind of distinction between academic departments dedicated to the study of gender and outreach centers meant to facilitate the experiences of students, staff and professors who encounter gender-related challenges to their work and happiness. Either way, though, Some Dude, Ph.D. is not please about these rooms of their own, as it were. 

Some Dude, Ph.D. couches his pantywadding in the "just asking questions" trope favored by many different varieties of jerks. Question the first:

1. Now that women completely dominate higher education at almost every degree level and men have clearly become the "second sex" in U.S. higher education, isn't there a greater need for thousands of "Men's Centers" on college campuses than "Women's Centers" to help address the challenges males face completing college and help improve the quality of men's experiences in college?

To which I respond: getting more degrees does not "complete domination" make, particularly when we consider that the highest paying college degrees are in programs wherein men are significant majorities. And to get an idea of Some Dude, Ph.D.'s target audience, for reference, many of the commenters on the blog post don't believe in the pay gap, so talking about equal pay for equal work isn't a good tactic here to demonstrate continuing economic subordination of women regardless of education level, since women do not actually only make $.80 to every dollar made by men. The fact that some people think there is a pay gap is probably also the fault of college women's centers, but it's hard to be sure, because they are responsible for crimes contributing to the education of women.

Further, no, "Men's Centers" are not needed on college campuses because they already exist, and they are called gender studies departments, centers and outreach programs. He's asking college programs like these why they haven't already solved a recently identified issue like gender equity in college degrees. Well, Some Dude, Ph.D. has many degrees in finance and economics, so I'd like to know where his solution to this recession was 5 years ago.

Next up, Some Dude, Ph.D. used Google to find a book about women in education called "A Journey Toward Equity."

2. Didn't the "journey toward equity" that is mentioned in the book title above end back in 1981 when women started earning a greater share of college degrees than men?

Sure, Some Dude, Ph.D. If equity is measured solely and only on how many college degrees are awarded in the United States, then yes, gender equity was achieved in 1981. But since equity is in no way measured solely on how many college degrees are awarded in the United States, equity has not been achieved because women all over the entire planet are still socially, culturally, institutionally, economically, explicitly and implicitly oppressed, marginalized and abused in vastly greater numbers and in vastly more areas of their lives than men. Though to be fair, Some Dude, Ph.D. may not have realized this due to the close proximity of his head to his ass.

This is my favorite question, though:

3. If the best college Women's Centers "respond to particularly difficult challenges in higher education related to gender," will they now turn their attention to the apparent difficult challenges men are having completing college degrees at the same rate as women?

Newsflash, Some Dude, Ph.D.: GENDER STUDIES PROGRAMS AT UNIVERSITIES AROUND THE WORLD ARE CONCERNED ABOUT EDUCATION AND GENDER, INCLUDING DUDES, AND WE ARE ALREADY ON THIS, OKAY? In the two graduate women's studies courses I've taken here at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, we have spoken and studied explicitly about education and gender, particularly the challenges faced by male students, especially in junior high and high schools when they drop out at astounding rates compared to young women, which seems to me might be directly related to the lowering rates of college degrees acquired among men. It may also surprise Some Dude, Ph.D., to find out that many people who work and study in gender issues are women, but they are also mothers, wives, daughters, siblings, lovers and friends of men who they love and care about succeeding in life. Of course, if you're a sexist douchebag, it can be difficult to visualize someone else caring about the welfare of the opposite sex.

Further, the U.S. Department of Education statistics suggest to me not that women's centers are some kind of degree-hogging, man-hating coalition of bitches, but that concentrating on the specific needs of gendered individuals has real results in improving their educational prospects (Again, Some Dude, Ph.D, this is something gender studies centers are actively interested in and working on with regard to men and boys. That's why it's called "gender" studies, because we also study masculinity and males and maleness.)

The guy's knee-jerk reaction is to assume that gender studies departments and women's centers--which are staffed by gender studies people, largely--aren't thinking about this. I wonder who's not doing their part, here: the many, many gender studies scholars who study education and social activism with regard to gender, or Some Dude, Ph.D., who figures that highly educated women are just lazy assholes who want to rule the world? If I thought psychoanalytic theory had any merit, I might speculate that Some Dude, Ph.D. is projecting his own personality and desires on to others ....


Comments

Rick said:

Andrea,

You make many valid points. I think something that can't be overlooked either, is that many of the numbers for women are from folks who are already in (or have been in) the work force, and are not getting that degree. My gut feeling is that men lag WAY behind women in that regard.
My guess is that this same "PHd", when faced with the inequity that used to be, reacted much less emphatically.

Rick, (aka some dude with no PHd)

Ethan Moore said:

Meanwhile the hard sciences are frequently male dominated, especially physics. Sincere people have been trying to address this literally for decades with almost no change to show for it. So there's another interesting question: how did the male:female ratio change so drastically in colleges overall while remaining essentially fixed in some fields? Sounds like a good subject for a Gender Studies department to address.

-- Ethan Moore, PhD (Physics)

Spark. said:

I'm relatively sure there are these men's centers that he's looking for. You know, manly man penis ass grab kind of places. They're called Fraternities, and they seem to be pretty widespread. Also, zoos.

Tristan Lennon said:

I don't understand the point Dr. Some Dude's original article. I am a undergrad (and a man), and I have no interest in the gender of anybody else attending university. All I want to do is complete the work and earn the degree, why should I concern myself with the demographic of others who want to do the same?

An academic is an academic, and the gender of the academic has no bearing on their qualifications. This is the type of thing I learned in primary school. How does Dr. Some Dude get a Ph.D and not figure that out.

Paul Elam said:

The one thing that this conference has provided me more than anything else is entertainment. There is nothing funnier that watching feminist react so virulently (and nervously) to the fact that there is an emerging threat to their ideological hegemony in academia, as well as a competitor for their funding.

This rant was so completely exemplary of the fear spreading through the feminist matrix. I have no doubt that by the time of the international conference on male studies in October that you and a boatload of other gender extremists will be one stress factor away from pushing a shopping cart down the street and talking to yourself, the latter of which you already appear quite skilled at.

This is better than Murphy Brown and Maud rolled up in to one.

I am smiling SO big these days!

MjY said:

Women cannot allow this to continue.

We know women are ALWAYS the victim and never the perpetrator, ever.

Feminist victimology must not allow itself to be scrutinized or questioned.. EVER!

SheffieldSteel said:

Campus police spend far more time investigating sexual assaults on women than on men. More evidence of the power of the feminist matrix?

The real fear here is evidently being felt by those who have spent all their lives smug in the belief that no matter how hard they try, women will never be on an equal footing with me - but who can now see the writing on the wall: It is becoming increasingly, almost painfully obvious that the way Americans raise their sons - to be selfish and irresponsible - is resulting in those boys growing up to be shiftless, uneducated, apathetic Neanderthals. Eventually even the most hidebound employer will realise that to get quality staff, one will have to emply women, and to get the best, one will have to pay a competitive wage.

I am also smiling, though less broadly than some, because I can see what a waste is being made of a generation.

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