Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Selective Concern on Sex Imbalances

In Stuart Taylor’s recent National Journal article “Selective Concern On Sex Imbalances” he writes:

It is an article of faith in the Obama administration, Congress, and much of the academic establishment that there are no innate differences between females and males in interests or cognitive capacities. From this dubious premise, they conclude that only pervasive, ongoing sexism and stereotypes can explain the huge gender disparities in academic fields -- hard sciences, engineering, and mathematics -- that are still male-dominated.

But advocates of this disparity-proves-discrimination dogma apply it quite selectively. They have shown virtually no concern about the small and shrinking percentages of males in colleges generally and in most academic fields.

Taylor concludes that amid the alleged "crisis" of gender bias in math and science departments, “The academic and political establishments treat as a non problem a real crisis that affects far more people: the ever-more-dramatic shrinkage in the percentage of males who graduate from college at all.”

The graph and table above are based on recently released data that provide new statistical support of the shrinking percentage of men graduating from college in general, and the female dominance in higher education for almost all academic fields at the graduate level that Taylor discusses in his article.

Read the entire post here at
The Enterprise Blog.


At 10/27/2009 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see the ratios for the various areas in 1970. Education and Health sciences would likely still be female lead. (Elementary Teachers have historically been female, and there are more nurses than MD's for example). The other issue is was the male graduation rate in 1970 influenced by the draft? Recall that staying in school provided a deferment until you graduated. This incentive to stay in school has gone away. So some percentage of the decrease in male graduation rates can be attributed to this.

At 10/27/2009 10:26 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...


Isn't making a few million more dollars over a lifetime by obtaining a college degree an incentive? Men like money, too.

At 10/27/2009 11:33 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

if the draft had a major impact on enrollment and graduation rates, you would have seen a step function drop when it ended.

the lack of such a step down in the data makes the draft argument look unpersuasive as a major factor, particularly given the constancy of the slope.

while it may sound un-pc, i'd love to see this data broken down by race.

minority representation at colleges and universities has gone up dramatically in recent decades.

i wonder if that has been a significant source of a change in the gender ratio.

anyone seen any data like that?

At 10/27/2009 12:06 PM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

Mark Perry,

You've blogged before about the fact that the tails are fatter for men than women. Do you have the actual shape of overall SAT scores for both males and females? (I don't know the actual data).

My question is to look at the left side of the curve where overall college admissions cutoffs occur. Over 50% of men and women go to college, putting the cutoff point on the left side of the curve. Since males have greater variance in both directions, this ought to imply that colleges that use SAT for admissions will admit fewer males.

However when the rate of those attending college was less than 50% of the population, then that would imply that more men than women would be admitted by a meritocratic college admissions board.

At 10/27/2009 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't making a few million more dollars over a lifetime by obtaining a college degree an incentive?


A student who secures a degree is increasingly unlikely to make up its cost, despite higher pay, and the employer who requires a degree puts faith in a system whose standards are slipping.


Consider two childhood friends, Ernie and Bill. Hard workers with helpful families, each saves exactly $16,594 for college. Ernie doesn't get accepted to a school he likes. Instead, he starts work at 18 and invests his college savings in a mutual fund that tracks the broad stock market.

Throughout his life, he makes average yearly pay for a high school graduate with no college, starting at $15,901 after taxes and peaking at $32,538. Each month, he adds to his stock fund 5% of his after-tax income, close to the nation's current savings rate. It returns 8% a year, typical for stock investors.

Bill has a typical college experience. He gets into a public college and after two years transfers to a private one. He spends $49,286 on tuition and required fees, the average for such a track. I'm not counting room and board, since Bill must pay for his keep whether he goes to college or not. Bill gets average-size grants, adjusted for average probabilities of receiving them, and so pays $34,044 for college.

He leaves school with an average-size student loan and a good interest rate: $17,450 at 5%. The $16,594 he has saved for college, you see, is precisely enough to pay what his loans don't cover.

Bill will have higher pay than Ernie his whole life, starting at $23,505 after taxes and peaking at $56,808. Like Ernie, he sets aside 5%. At that rate, it will take him 12 years to pay off his loan. Debt-free at 34, he starts adding to the same index fund as Ernie, making bigger monthly contributions with his higher pay. But when the two reunite at 65 for a retirement party, Ernie will have grown his savings to nearly $1.3 million. Bill will have less than a third of that.

How can that be? College degrees bring higher income, but at today's cost they can't make up the savings they consume and the debt they add early in the life of a typical student. While Ernie was busy earning, Bill got stuck under his bill.

New York Post

At 10/27/2009 12:28 PM, Anonymous Benny The Truth Man said...

Men commit suicide, crime, and get incarcerated at much higher rates than women, and die younger.
Evidently, we are less educated now as well.
No one waas-waas for guys.
Just the way it is.

At 10/27/2009 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Americans are wising up to the fact that college is a big fat waste of money. Sure, if you’re lucky enough, and smart enough, get into a big-name school, college is just fine. But for millions of other students, a four-year degree often puts them in a mountain of debt and doesn’t give them the skills they need in the job market.

First, let’s consider how long it takes many students to finish college. Even after six years, only 54% of college students even get a degree. For high-school students in the bottom 40% of their class and who go to a four-year college, an amazing two-thirds hadn’t earned a diploma after eight-and-a-half years. Sheesh, that’s worse than Bluto! I can’t think of another industry that has such a dismal record.

David Leonhardt recently wrote at the New York Times: “At its top levels, the American system of higher education may be the best in the world. Yet in terms of its core mission—turning teenagers into educated college graduates—much of the system is simply failing.” He’s exactly right.

Still, tuition costs continue to skyrocket. Between 1982 and 2007, tuition and fees rose 439% compared with just 147% for median family income. The trend shows no sign of stopping. One year at Yale now goes for $47,500. The University of Florida system wants to raise tuition by 15%, the maximum allowed.

Much like the housing bubble, the Higher Ed bubble is being driven by cheap, government supported credit. The problem is compounded by the fact that hugely important financial decisions are placed on the backs of 19-year-olds, many of whom simply don’t have the life experience to weigh the implications of a gigantic, 20-year debt load.

Crossing Wall Street

At 10/27/2009 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bachelor's degree wage premium may be declining (see Mike Mandel here), but this study indicates an NPV of ~$300K in 2003$.

Anyhoo, the NYPost article misses the mark, because there is no accounting for the difference in take home pay after the 5% reduction for either the retirement contribution or the student loan.

At 10/27/2009 1:21 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...


I don't see where you are factoring in the unemployment rate for those with just a high school education and those with a college degree. You are assuming both would be gainfully employed their whole careers. That's not what is happening nowadays.

Yes, for some people a college degree is not a viable option, but most studies show education and training beyond high school is necessary in today's job market. By most accounts, those with the marketable skills and credentials will be much better off than those without.

At 10/27/2009 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see where you are factoring in the unemployment rate

Most analyses do not take into account that variability, let alone other pecuniary benefits such as the likelihood of employer sponsored retirement contributions or health care premiums and any part-time or summer earnings for the college student.

All that does is increase the net present value of a college education.

Tangentially, some argue that the non-pecuniary benefits are at least as valuable as pecuniary benefits. See here and here.

At 10/27/2009 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tangentially, some argue that the non-pecuniary benefits are at least as valuable as pecuniary benefits.

Non-pecuniary benefits?

You mean like these?:

In 1996, [Elliott] told her audience at Kansas State University that all whites are racists, whatever they believe about themselves: “If you want to see another racist, turn to the person on your right. Now look at the person on your left.”


She told the students that if they were angry at her, they should write letters, but that they must do so without paper, alphabet, or numbers, all of which were invented by people of colour. “You’re all sitting here writing in a language [English] that white people didn’t come up with,” she told [Webfronds] magazine. “You're all sitting here writing on paper that white people didn’t invent. Most of you are wearing clothes made out of cloth that white people didn’t come up with. We stole those ideas from other people.”


Jane Elliott has lived through revolutionary cultural changes without taking note of any. She teaches only helplessness and despair to blacks and only blood-guilt and self-contempt to whites. She addresses no issue with intellectual seriousness or purpose. She also is the reigning star in thought reform these days. On May 7, 1999, CBS News ran a feature on her that declared: “For over 30 years, Jane Elliott has waged a one-woman campaign against racism in America.” CBS might want to rethink the notion of “racism”.


She describes herself as the “resident bitch for the day,” and speaks to the blue-eyed contingent as though they were criminally stupid or stupidly criminal. “Keep your fucking mouth shut,” she tells one smiling blue-eyed young man. “I don’t play second banana.”


At 10/27/2009 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of the non-pecuniary benefit your kids get from an instructor like this:

The late Richard Rorty, the philosopher and devout atheist, is refreshingly honest. He argued that secular professors like himself need to “arrange things” so that incoming students who enter college “as bigoted, homophobic religious fundamentalists” will “leave college with views more like our own.” The goal of education, said Rorty, is to help these youth “escape the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents.” Rorty was bracingly candid in his message to parents: “We are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable.”

- Richard Rorty, "Rorty and His Critics", Robert B. Brandom

National Review

At 10/27/2009 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So colleges and universities do not need a single additional “conservative.” And they have plenty of “liberals.” What they do need, and would much benefit from, is more Marxists, radicals, leftists – all terms conventionally applied to those who fight against exploitation, racism, sexism, and capitalism.

We can never have too many of these, just as we can never have too few “conservatives.”

- Gover Furr PhD, English, Monclair State University


What additional value does a business get when hiring someone steeped in Marxist dogma for four years? How exactly does this indoctrination enrich the individual and contribute to society?

At 10/27/2009 5:15 PM, Blogger Milton Recht said...


Based on 2003-4 numbers, when one stratifies by income, the story is different. (link below).

Across all races (White, Black, Asian, Hispanic), if family income is above $70,000 (1995 dollars, about $96,000 today), the male college ratio averages 49 percent, with little difference among the races.

In income below the $70,000 (1995 dollars), the average is below 44 percent. Also, this grouping is showing the sharpest declines in male college enrollment from 1995 to 2003.

The question is why are upper income families (top 20 percent, approx.) putting sons and daughters in college, but middle and lower income families are favoring daughters?

See: http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/10/14/college-enrollment-and-completion-the-intersectionality-of-class-race-and-gender/

At 10/27/2009 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

middle and lower income families are favoring daughters?

Why? Marriage opportunities (aka dowry). It's been happening since humankind began. Instead of camels, donkeys or horses, it's the paper chase, an art history or communications degree, not dung for fire on the Serengeti Plains. BTW, that's a non-pecuniary benefit of a college education.

At 10/27/2009 6:31 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Can't most of the disparity since 1970 be attributed to women students achieving college degrees at the same level as the percentage of their population? If so, the study should be why woman are 7% or so above the 52% of the population they represent while men are at 41% or 7% or so below the population they represent. Those numbers might not be completely accurate; however, the comparison is reasonably valid.

Another way to study this would be to compare the number of male college degree completions from 1970 to today/male population of 18-35 year-olds and the number of female college degree completions from 1970 to today/female population of 18-35 year-olds and see if they increased/decreased at the same rate over time. Assuming females were underrepresented in 1970, this might be a better outcome measurement of gender educational attainment than the example above.


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