Thursday, September 17, 2009

Men Underrepresented: 7 of 10 Grad School Fields

The Council of Graduate Schools just released data on graduate schools for 2008, and total graduate student enrollment by gender is displayed in the chart above (based on Table 2.13). Women represented 58.9% of all graduate students in 2008, meaning that there were 143 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men. Further, women were overrepresented in 7 out the 10 fields of graduate study and underrepresented in three fields (business, engineering and physical sciences).

Q: Why does the underrepresentation of women in engineering, math and science get so much more attention than the underrepresentation of men in arts and humanities, biology, education, health sciences, public administration, and social sciences? After all, male graduate students are about as underrepresented in fields like health sciences (20.1% male, and 398 women per 100 men), education (24.8% male) and public administration (25.5% male) as women are underrepresented in engineering (22% female).

21 Comments:

At 9/17/2009 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect the male underenrollment is less reported because it follows a trend from in the past where men dominated most of the fields. It would be interesting to take these ratios and divide by the undergrad graduation rate in fields. Note that the women are picking more stable fields.
The overall ratio suggests the mancession will be a long term issue.
Now at least 2 of the fields Health care and education have been historically female dominated due to nursing and teaching being historically female occupations.
Looking at these figures what does it imply for the leadership of our society in 20-30 years??

 
At 9/17/2009 11:58 PM, Blogger yamahaeleven said...

Perhaps because of absolutes. Is there data representing the male to female ratio in all of graduate school attendance?

 
At 9/18/2009 8:36 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

One thing these posts tell me is that the world is not a fair place, and that most of our efforts to bend the world to our version of fairness just result in other distortions.

 
At 9/18/2009 8:56 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

Perhaps men are more interested in the quantitative curricula while women are more interested in the emotional curricula.

 
At 9/18/2009 10:54 AM, Blogger QT said...

Perhaps, men are often more interested in being actively engaged in a profession than remaining in school.

Not everyone is suited to advanced research or teaching at a university. Having talked to researchers, I have observed them to be highly methodical with the ability to synthesize vast amounts of information and the ability to remain focused on an activity which may take a decade or more to achieve (ie. achieving absolute zero or seeing a drug through development and clinical trials).

Almost always, the education system is focused on worrying about whether girls do enough math or boys do enough reading. Peter Drucker once observed that the educational system is focused on training all students to a certain base level of competency but not on developing high areas of aptitude.

Why do we assume that the outcome is sub-optimal? Isn't it equally possible that the decision of millions of men and women end up directing people who are suited to research and advanced education into those fields?

 
At 9/18/2009 3:36 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Funny thing, except for biology women are in all the useless fields of endeavor...

 
At 9/18/2009 4:01 PM, Blogger Prof Frink said...

except for biology

LOL -- In technical fields, biology is known as the useless major.

 
At 9/18/2009 4:06 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"LOL -- In technical fields, biology is known as the useless major"...

CHA! CHING!...

Very good! Someone got it...:-)

 
At 9/18/2009 4:13 PM, Blogger QT said...

1,

Wouldn't it be more accurate to describe the fields preferred by women as "risk averse" or even "recession proof"? There is a utility value to these jobs or they wouldn't exist.

Many of the fields like health services & education are service oriented and generally, the customer is there whether there is a recession or not. We don't send the kids to work when there is a recession or decide not to have that heart attack.

A mancessation may be an element going forward because many of the fields dominated by men tend to be cyclical ie. oil & mineral extraction, construction, engineering, architecture, and at present, finance.

My original question is "are we sure that this is a problem that we need to solve?" Maybe it is and then again maybe, it reflects the aggregate wisdom of millions of people making decisions.

 
At 9/18/2009 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QT makes an interesting point that career choices may reflect risk aversion. The service professions are less risky than the manufacturing positions. It is interesting the change in gender ratio in the last 30 years in vet medicine for example to where a good majority of students are now women 85% at uc davis. Human medical school is not about 50 50 on average.
Here is a link to a UC Davis web page on their gender ratio
http://www.dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=11086

 
At 9/18/2009 5:14 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Hey QT...

"Wouldn't it be more accurate to describe the fields preferred by women as "risk averse" or even "recession proof"? There is a utility value to these jobs or they wouldn't exist."...

No QT I surely wouldn't think those were more accurate and in light of what has happened over the last three decades, especially so...

I think of them as, 'make work' programs in the pursuit of 'fairness' as dictated by various government bureaucrats and unelected lawyers...

 
At 9/18/2009 6:54 PM, Blogger QT said...

1,

Cool your jets.

I share your aversion for tilting the playing field in favour of women or any other group in the name of "diversity" or "fairness". How can one not be aware of the measures that have been taken to increase female enrollment? No argument there, buckeroo.

These fields that you call "make work" like teaching need to be done all the same. Sneer away all you like. WRT women, my observation is that most of the women I meet are left-leaning. I believe this orientation translates into gravatating towards "helping" careers.

Ca-ching doesn't tell us why men are not going on to grad school. I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of male students are not planning to study english, sociology, biology, history, or nutrition.

So, what's the answer?

1. Are men just responding to incentives? ie. high wage jobs in construction, mineral extraction, high skilled trades like welding, auto mechanics, plumbing, electrical contracting, etc.
2. Do teaching methods fail to actively engage male students in learning. ie. they're bored
3. Anachronistic testing methods which favor graphoria (the "clerical" skill which women on average outscore men) and memorization.
4. Self-confidence? Do women tend to over-educate themselves while men are confident in their abilities?
5. Different attitudes toward education? Do young men equate higher learning with "living in an ivory tower" or "not having a job in the real world" or "being a professional student"
6. High testosterone levels
7. Inadequate educational preparedness and lack of life skills like goal setting, proper study habits, etc.

Whether women want to take basket-weaving 101, that tells us zip about why men are choosing not to go to grad school.

 
At 9/18/2009 10:29 PM, Anonymous jim Egnor said...

But...but...according to that advertisement I keep seeing every freaking day online...Obama wants moms to return to school.Ergo, there will be a surge in female enrollment. Economic analysis can be so simple! Medication time-----

 
At 9/19/2009 12:20 AM, Blogger Audacity17 said...

Yes its interesting to note that the men are mostly in the fields that depend on objective truth, requiring facts and evidence...and the woman are more in the subjective fields, where nobody can say you're wrong.

H/T: Evan Sayet

 
At 9/19/2009 12:30 AM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

I think many commenters are missing the main point. The main point is that women's groups constantly grouse about how they are discriminated against in education, and they maintain this stance despite objective evidence that K-12 education blatantly favors girls, that far more women get into colleges than men, that far more women get into graduate schools than men, and that women dominate in every field except engineering, physical sciences, and computing.

It's time to tell the women's groups to SHUT UP about non-existent discrimination. It's time to tell K-12 educators to quit screwing-up the lives of our sons.

 
At 9/19/2009 4:24 AM, Blogger 1 said...

QT says: "These fields that you call "make work" like teaching need to be done all the same. Sneer away all you like"...

Sneer?!?! Me?!?!

Teaching needs to be done, eh?

I do not have ANY disagreement with you on that...

Hence the reason I used these words: 'last three decades'...

I'm NOT one of those who say or believe that old saying: 'those that can do, those that can't teach'...

The fact that there are males who do join these women heavy groupings sort of reminds me when I was in college low these many decades ago and were pursuing a degree in art history or English just to be in college for no other reason than to be in college...

Sadly a small but vocal groupings of activist and agitated women with a political agenda have as far as the MSM is concerned attempted to paint ALL women with this brush...

It reminds me of that other old saying about the news game: "if it bleeds, it leads"...

Why else would this story and similer ones have been posted on this blog site and others?

 
At 9/19/2009 11:26 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

One of the things that stands out to me is that many of the fields in which women outnumber men tend to be credential-oriented rather than achievement oriented. In the field of education, for example, you don't move into administration until you have at least one graduate degree. In the medical field, MSN seems to be a job title as much as an academic degree.

I've also been in engineering meetings where the guys with PEs and advanced degrees would defer to the judgment of the tool designers and machinists who maybe had two year degrees, but had a lot of experience cutting metal.

Could it be that in the fields were women outnumber men, advancement is controlled more by "objective" measures, like degrees and credentials, rather than "subjective" measures, like whether you're any good at what you're doing?

 
At 9/19/2009 5:55 PM, Blogger QT said...

1,

I agree with you that a small group of rabid feminists has tried to dominate the agenda and that these "leaders" are largely unrepresentative and out of touch with the vast majority of women. Like Dr. T says, these women should shut the f**k up. What Larry Summers had to put up with was ludicrous.

My first reaction was that there was a major problem that needed remedial action however, I wonder whether this type of approach isn't equally likely to create more distortions. Are we jumping to the conclusion that enrollment policy is responsible for a suboptimal outcome and therefore, the answer is more government meddling? Are policies that encouraged female enrollment as pervasive today as they were in the 1970s?

Was wondering if any posters could offer insight into other factors that may account for the results.

It is very easy for these discussions to devolve into acrimony or get caught up in sexual differences without exploring what factors men are considering in their career path. I believe that we can agree that the issue is an important one that merits a comprehensive discussion/analysis.

 
At 9/20/2009 10:33 AM, Blogger bix1951 said...

In spite of everything

men still rule the world

in fact,
white men still rule the world

if that changes some day
we may have men's advocacy groups
or caucasian advocacy groups

in the meantime
things are really much better than is generally acknowledged

 
At 9/20/2009 3:10 PM, Blogger 1 said...

QT's comment: "My first reaction was that there was a major problem that needed remedial action however, I wonder whether this type of approach isn't equally likely to create more distortions. Are we jumping to the conclusion that enrollment policy is responsible for a suboptimal outcome and therefore, the answer is more government meddling?"...

I don't think it takes any jump at all to see that federal government meddling has taken place by how the present day resources are allocated now for schools at all levels...

 
At 9/20/2009 4:55 PM, Blogger QT said...

1,

Fair enough.

 

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