Gender separations cause more problems
October 6, 2006
Geoffrey Scheurman put it nicely in last week's Student Voice: "Nobody wants to talk about how correcting one error has created the seeds of the next one."
And that is precisely what happened.
Colleges have been begging women to continue their education beyond high school. By focusing on steering women away from traditional roles in the workplace and becoming better educated, males have been left to their own devices.
This problem may be rooted in early education. K-12 education has seen a decline in the number of males graduating, and females are outperforming males in the classroom. To compensate, some schools have separated their classrooms by gender so that each can focus on more gender-oriented educations, but that seems like a quick fix to a more complex issue.
Colleges have even considered affirmative action-style application procedures so male enrollment reaches a certain male quota, but that again is a hasty solution to a deeper problem. We should be encouraging males to pursue post-secondary education the same way we did for women: by reinforcing the benefits of a college degree and making sure they are graduating from high school with a good education. Lowering college admissions standards and making special exceptions for males in classrooms doesn't produce smarter males or otherwise solve the problem; it simply produces dumb guys with college degrees.
This isn't an anti-female or pro-male issue; it's one of equality. If males are left without proper educations and are economically reliant on their spouses, then our society is right back where we were 50 years ago, only this time the men have the raw end of the deal. Statistically, we know men aren't achieving to their fullest academic potential, and they aren't applying to or enrolling in colleges. Something practical should be done to curb this trend.
Without drawing too much optimism out of a potentially damaging situation, this lopsided girl-to-guy ratio might end up benefiting the future male population at UW-RF — a blessing in disguise. Believe it or not, there are some males who base their college choice on social factors, like the girl-to-guy ratio. You can just imagine some of those high school boys saying, "If there are more girls than guys at this school, then there's gotta be one for me!" Perhaps that skewed logic and this emerging gender trend will help redirect UW-RF down the path of an equal sex demographic.
But putting faith in that alone would be silly. It might account for a few percentage points here and there, but the larger issue would still remain: men are behind.
Well-educated women who see this emerging trend are, no doubt, proud as can be, for the trend will likely benefit the perception of women in the workplace and gender salary differentials — and rightfully so. Men had dominated the male-to-female ratio in college for much longer than women, and male dominance certainly wasn't an area of concern for college administrations or society back then. It may be women's turn in the educational limelight, which was an area they had been denied for ages.
But remember, a healthy society is an equal one. Everyone helps everyone else out to get to where he or she wants to go, or at least that's the fantastic vision. Though no society will ever be equal in the truest sense, it is still worthwhile to strive for that mark.
Ben Jipson is a student at UW-River Falls.