NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Women Outnumber Men On Campus -- But Not At 10 Most Selective Schools

September 26, 2000

Over the decades, the proportion of women at America's colleges and universities has steadily grown -- to the point where women now dominate enrollments, even though there are more men of college age. However, men are in the majority at elite schools, statistics show.

  • At 54.5 percent, women now outnumber men in colleges and universities -- even though men make up 51 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds.
  • As recently as 1950, women earned only 24 percent of bachelor's degrees -- a proportion which by 1997 had grown to 57 percent.
  • Yet at Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, MIT, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Brown and Stanford, women comprise only 47 percent of the student population.
  • The proportion of women at schools across the nation rises sharply in the sophomore year.

Various theories are advanced to explain the phenomenon. Men may be more inclined these days to skip or leave college in their haste to participate in the new economy. Or colleges may be turning men off. The jump in women as a proportion of schools' populations in the sophomore year may indicate than men are giving college a try, then leaving if they feel the experience isn't for them.

Source: Peter Brimelow, "Charticle: The Missing Men," Forbes, October 2, 2000.


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