UCC Mainstream Online

Women take the prize for greater enrollment in higher education

In the study of gender in higher education, one face is very clear — and it is female.

Research continues to support the fact that men attend college less and fail to thrive as well as women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, men make up about 43 percent of college enrollment. UCC follows this trend with higher enrollment and graduations of women.

Of the 550 degrees awarded at the 2012–2013 UCC graduation, 63 percent went to women. This is higher than the overall percentage of female enrollment, which was at 58 percent for the same year. This means that more women have continued to graduation than men.

In addition to a higher number of overall degrees earned, female students earned significantly more Associates in Science. Of the eight science degrees awarded in 2012–2013, 75 percent went to women in spite of the common assumption that men always do better in this field.

Not only are men lacking in terms of enrollment and earning degrees, but they also, on average, score lower GPAs. The average GPA for men was about 17 points lower than women for 2012–2013, according to Dan Yoder, director of institutional research, planning and compliance.

“There’s a national dialog going on about this.” David Hutchison, library director, said.

The many sides of the debate point to issues in learning styles, communication and the manner in which men are raised.

“I think a lot of it has to do with how we socialize our children. Our culture views asking for help as a feminine trait, so many men resist asking for help, making roadblocks detrimental,” Caroline Hopkins, adviser for TOP, said via email.

While finding a way to encourage a culture where men are more willing to seek help would be beneficial, this would likely take years to accomplish and involve a national push to change society. Men could benefit in the short term by being offered alternate ways of assistance.

Many times, men think asking for help means they are inadequate. A possible solution could be to include help as a normal part of class activity. Assignments could involve visiting the instructor in their office in order provide opportunities for help and create a more welcoming atmosphere.

The overall value of higher education is significantly greater for women, according to a Pew Research poll. The poll finds 50 percent of women believe higher education offer excellent or good value for the money spent, compared to 37 percent for men. Eighty-one percent of women compared to 67 percent of men believed college was useful in improving knowledge and intellectual growth, and 73 percent of women compared to 64 percent of men believed their education helped them personally mature and grow.         

While the majority of both men and women say they benefited from college, men are clearly more unsatisfied with their education than women. Some men prefer avoiding college altogether in hopes of starting at a low position job and moving up the ranks.

Men continue to succeed more in the workplace and earn more money than women, so they are still succeeding in spite of receiving fewer college degrees than; however, this may be likely to change at some point — and perhaps soon.

Concern is rising now since the current economy and state of industry are providing fewer jobs to men without a college degree.

The United States is not the only country experiencing disproportionate enrollment of female students. While the U.S. has 1.4 females for every one male of college enrollment, Qatar near Saudi Arabia holds the highest rate of female to male students at 6.31 female students for every one male student, with the Bahamas in second at 2.7 female to every male, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Whatever the reason for these disparities, clearly something must be done beyond simply trying to artificially enroll more men through government actions. If a solution is to be found, part of it must include a more satisfying experience for men in college, including a feeling of personal growth in maturity and knowledge. Part of this can include providing a learning environment that is equally favorable to men and where help is not considered weak but the norm.