Is there an ideal gender mix in academia?

In which I link to Rex Hammock twice in one day: Rex reports that colleges and universities are seeing a drop in male students. As Rex quotes, from the WaPo:

“Colleges and universities across the country are grappling with the case of the mysteriously vanishing male. Where men once dominated, they now make up no more than 43 percent of students at American institutions of higher learning, according to 2003 statistics, and this downward trend shows every sign of continuing unabated.”

So to recap: Secondary education was long dominated by men. Now it’s 60-40 in favor of women, and as the article says, the trend shows “every sign of continuing.”

The question that fascinates me is, what mix of sociological and other factors got us here? Was it an activism-based shift in trends, a simple shift of societal tides, or a mixture of both? And now that we are here, what do those who campaign(ed) against male-dominated universities say about the opposite? And how do they feel in general about this news?

Commenters, share your thoughts, or link to places where others do.

One Reply to “Is there an ideal gender mix in academia?”

  1. I was told by an admissions officer that there is a fairly clear difference in quality between female applicants and male applicants. The officer’s explanation was that women mature faster than men, and so at age 17 or 18 can do a much better job mastering the application process and writing essays. So there are more good applicants who are girls at that age than there are boys. The officer I spoke to said they think about that, because they want to keep an even gender mix, but they also want to take the best applicants.

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