I found this op-ed,"To All the Girls I've Rejected" , by an admissions counselor at Kenyon college to be utterly depressing. Most of the op-eds about the gender imbalance in higher education has focused on how "at risk" our young boys are because of the feminization of higher education. This op-ed, however, takes a refreshing look at another, equally (if not more) concerning unintended consequence of the higher numbers of women applying to college: that the standards for admission are much higher and more competitive than they are for male applicants.
I also learned a few weeks ago that one way in which we are able to avoid lowering our standards too much by choosing unqualified male applicants is by keeping our "management program." It appears, at least according to one theory, that many qualified male applicants won't apply to liberal arts colleges without a business degree. Hence, because we have a business degree at our college we get slightly more qualified men than we otherwise would, allowing us to achieve greater gender parity, without lowering the standards for admitting male applicants.
I find this question--" What are the consequences of young men discovering that even if they do less, they have more options?"--to be the most bittersweet one asked in the course of this op-ed. While many wingnuts suggest that women and minorities get jobs and into college simply because they are women and minorities, it appears that the opposite is true. Men now get into college because they are men. Our unquestioned assumption that gender imbalance is an unthinkable social disaster on college campuses has made them valuable, just because of their XY chromosomes. What irony. Before the feminist movement, women had to work three times as hard as men to have any hope of getting into one of the few slots alotted to women applicants. Now, after the feminist movement, women have to work three times as hard to get the positions that they deserve because they have to compete with less qualified men who are sought after, just because they are men. Women are punished for their success.
What I find fascinating is that for many years, college admissions didn't feel the need for gender balance. Many colleges simply did not allow women in. But now that we have dismantled many of those archaic and hopelessly sexist institutional rules, women are suffering from a new rule: gender balance.