Friday, November 06, 2009

Affirmative action for men?

A reader (thanks!) sent me a WSJ article entitled, "The Lost Boys" written by Richard Whitmire, author of a forthcoming book, Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind. The article discusses universities admitting men with lower qualifications than women, and why guys might need these preferences:

This week, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that it will investigate whether colleges discriminate against women by admitting less qualified men. It will strike many as odd to think that American men would need such a leg up. From the men-only basketball games at the White House to the testosterone club on Wall Street, we seem surrounded by male dominance....

In theory, the surge in the number of educated women should make up for male shortcomings when we're looking at the overall prospects for the economy. But men and women are not the same. At the same levels of education, women remain less inclined to roll the dice on risky business start-ups or to grind out careers in isolated tech labs. Revenue generated by women-owned businesses remains less than 5% of all revenue. And while the number of women taking on economically important majors is rising, women still earn only a fifth of the bachelor's degrees granted in physics, computer science and engineering.

Why males don't seem to "get" the importance of a college education is a mystery, especially considering the current collapse of jobs that traditionally don't require post-high-school study.

What is a mystery to me is why so many schools and colleges don't "get" that they are anti-male, pro-female (liberal only) and designed to teach in ways that are not conducive to attracting men but that is another post. This one is on affirmative action for men.

Typically, I would not be for any type of affirmative action. I think people who are qualified, regardless of race and gender, should be admitted to these universities, end of story. But in today's PC world, that is not possible. If we admit people based on their gender and race, then we must do it in an equitable way. Men should be represented at colleges in equal numbers to women since they comprise roughly half (a little less these days) of the population.

What do you think?



Blogger TMink said...

I am with you Dr. Helen in being against affirmative action. I hope it is not necessary. I think dad's being excluded from their children's lives through the courts and subsidizing single mom's is more the problem. Still, I agree with you that our current education system is geared toward females.


3:55 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

At this time and for some years to come, the lure of a college education for teenaged boys will be somewhat diminished by a competing factor: You can make lots more money as a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, or a macadam technician.

Businesses have been scaling back their hiring of the college educated, and many of these have lost their jobs already, as we know. But the need for good, reliable tradesmen is continuous, and grows as the population grows. As the supply of such tradesmen has been depressed for two or three decades by the swelling of the "office sector," young men are taking increasing notice that the career prospects are better in the trades than in college. More than that, as a self-employed tradesman, you can't be fired!

Given current trends, pretty soon, calluses and dirt under the fingernails will be regarded as signs of a "good catch."

3:55 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger David Foster said...

"the current collapse of jobs that traditionally don't require post-high-school study" this really true? No numbers are provided to justify this assertion.

At least some companeis are now adding production workers while keeping office workers at the levels established after the cuts were made.

5:04 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

There was an article in the local paper regarding this trend and the psychologist blamed it on video games. So I asked my underachieving 17 yo son if he agreed with that and he just laughed. That's not the issue. He just really hates the way schools are run.

But no, I don't agree that we should let underachievers get in college because they are male. There is not an equitable balance for a reason and if we try to 'tweak' that balance it'll create more problems than it solves. Seems like the same concept of that firefighters discrimination law suit, I think in NY.

5:06 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger art.the.nerd said...

> Men should be represented at colleges in equal numbers to women since they comprise roughly half (a little less these days) of the population.

Dr. Helen, are you kidding? Would you expect that half the Poetry majors be men? That half the Math majors be women? That 80% of the football scholarships should go to whites?

Population does not correlate with talent or interest.

5:36 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

I am firmly opposed to any sort of affirmative action for any group, male, female, black, white, or green. All it does is to reduce the quality of the students.

Fran Porretto has made a very useful comment above that I think has some very strong logic to it. I personally know of several young men thinking in this direction.

I think also we are devaluing education and thereby making it less attractive to really capable young men. The undergraduate degree today in most schools is not too much more than a good high school degree of 50 years ago. I think that some of our best and brightest young people can look at the whole process and see it as largely phony and say they just do not want to put up with it. I cannot blame them for that conclusion if that is the case; I would agree.

6:18 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger LPF said...

"What do you think?"

I think you're going to make liberals' heads explode! :)

But on the whole, I need to side with the 'no Affirmative Action of any type' side.

While many schools will self select themselves out of the conservative (or just NOT liberal) male admissions candidates, other institutions (presumably the for-profit ones) will pick up the slack. And the payoff (alumni contribs) will come down the road as those candidates who are more likely "to roll the dice on risky business start-ups or to grind out careers in isolated tech labs" and do quite well for themselves. We see time and time again that hard work and entrepreneurial spirit is more important than a sheepskin.


Add in what many predict is an 'Elite College Bubble' and the coming decades could see some interesting changes... after all, a woman with a PhD in 'social work' will probably still end up working for a pittance in a non-profit, whereas the man with no social skills and 2 year degree from a community/commuter college will be making good money as even an entry-level IT staffer.
Or think about all the art-history, poetry, English lit degrees out there working as waitresses... Just because higher percentages of women are getting degrees doesn't mean they're earning a better living (true for guys too). That's the 'bubble'; there are a ton of people getting degrees (on daddy's money or gov't loans) that will _never_ pay off, because they got degrees that don't actually teach them how to DO anything USEFUL. In the old days a 'liberal arts' degree at least taught you how to think critically, but with the dogmatic uniformity that the PC liberal dominated staffs require now; that's no longer the case.

After all, the colleges you're talking about are probably the same ones that emphasize self-esteem and 'all ideas are equal' over testing/ grades/ hard work, and satisfaction in a job well done. How successful will those people be in the real world?

As someone who interviews a lot, seriously: a degree is only important for your first job. After that it's experience, and the ability to present and prove what you've done, and what skills you have...

When looking at a resume, does anyone really think an Ivy League Master of the Arts in "Womyn's Studies" will impress me rather than be a HUGE red flag?


6:38 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Acksiom said...

Maybe these young men are ahead of the curve. Online higher education for far lower costs is growing rapidly, allowing them to get comparable learning sometime later in life for far less, so that they do not begin their professional careers already thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in student debt.

Credentialing of comparable value to the existing institutions is probably not far off, so all these young online-educated men would be missing is the network of peer contacts that physical campus presence traditionally provides. And the growth of social connection internet services may provide sufficiently functional alternatives to that as well.

7:14 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger gemma said...

Francis W Porretto is absolutely spot on. First learn something marketable, plumbing, electrical, heating and air, whatever, those are the skills that never fade, then, TA DA go to school and polish up to market them......learn about accounting and basic business skills. You know. Those skills that tell you that you have to actually make more money than you spend to be sort of successful.

Sigh,,,,am I dreaming or what

7:16 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Davout said...

In the USSR, the proportion of female doctors increased via affirmative action. The result was that less status was conveyed upon 'doctor' as a profession.

Currently, in Scandinavian countries, the real status is in private sector jobs where men predominate and not in the public sector jobs where women, through affirmative action, predominate.

Given that more women than men are getting degrees now, it is not hard to see why Charles Murray and co. put out articles on why the value of a degree is now much lower than it was pre-affirmative action: the women are much less likely to put it to good use.

8:26 PM, November 06, 2009  
Blogger Fen said...

My fav was an interview with Maryland University. The board consisted of 4 females who asked what I thought of diversity.

2:49 AM, November 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's funny, Fen. Sad, but funny.

As the 7th largest industry in the U.S., higher education has turned into a huge financial black hole.
In the four years my daughter went to her first university, overall costs had risen 12.5% in her fourth year from her first. And she only lived on campus the first two years.

6:26 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Let's take a look at what college is. You sit quietly in a classroom, you take notes, then you take some tests and then you get a report card. It is an extension of high school, which is an extension of elementary school. Now let's look at office work. You sit quietly, you take notes, you work on a computer and you receive a paycheck. Not too much difference there.

Who is going to be better at office work? Men or women. Women have been sitting quietly since the dawn of time. Men not so much. The only barrier to quality office jobs for women in the past has been cultural. We've somewhat lifted the barrier and the women have flooded the offices. I expect women to reach the top levels of corporate America in the next 20 years.

You can talk about "status" all you want, but you can't ignore the facts. Women are taking many of the lucrative jobs available and are becoming equal and primary breadwinners with men. HVAC jobs are nice too, I think it's great to have your own business. This work can be a blessing for men and women.

I'm not sure there is a crisis right now. But in a few years if we look across the office and only see women we might have to think about how we are presenting education and employment.

8:39 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

@ Cham

You have presented a rather simplified version of what it means to work in an office. All of my career as an engineer, I worked in an office, but there were very few women in those offices and it had nothing to do with discrimination. It had everything to do with aptitude and and interest in the work being done. Today this has changed a little (my daughter is an engineer), but not very much.

Businesses don't hire people to simply sit quietly at a desk and work at a computer, simply keeping a chair warm. That is not the point. They hire people to produce a result, and they will only hire the people who can produce that result, whether they be men, women, or martians.

They also hire people that they can expect to have with them over the long haul, without timeouts for having children. Society has gotten this idea that it is perfectly reasonable for women to be able to work a few years, then take several years off to have a family, and then expect to come back to the old job and pick up right where she left off. This really sounds nice, but it neglects the fact that the business function has to continue, if the woman was doing anything worthwhile in the first place. So who will do her work while she is away, but be ready to quickly step aside on her return?

There is still a place for men, even in the corporate world. They should not be relegated just to crushing boulders and digging ditches.

9:27 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I work in higher ed, and I see anti-male bias all the time, from the post-modernist readings to counseling for post-grad work (don't bother applying for that Ph.D. program, you're a white male). It takes a strong man to endure this.

In general--and I do mean general--girls do better at following the bureaucracy rules and graduating. They are more compliant students and thus somewhat edge out boys in achievement. That doesn't help boys much either. So, some sort of affirmative action might be necessary; you will never get the academy to admit they are wrong about their innate anti-male bias.

10:20 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger meep said...

As I wrote at, there are a couple ways of getting rid of this disparity if people really cared:

1. Get rid of all the useless and intellectually weak majors/departments [such as women's studies, critical studies in whatever, etc.]
2. Beef up math and mathematical science requirements for admissions and/or graduation.

I think that would take care of that problem.

Oh, and my idea for fixing the whole Title IX mess with college sports: all sports co-ed, everyone has to clear same physical standards. If all the people on the football team turn out to be men, tough.

Seriously, I am unconcerned by this "disparity" other than to the extent a bunch of women are having their time wasted on meaningless degrees. The "meaningful" majors/degrees are not lacking for men.

10:27 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Women are taking less and less time off when they have kids. Their paycheck is responsible for paying more and more of the family's bills. And yes, some larger corporations are looking for people to sit quietly and do a job. Management likes people that don't make waves and do what they are told while they produce results. This is why women are so successful in offices. Given enough time, they'll take the engineering jobs too.

10:28 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Cosmo said...

" . . . investigate whether colleges discriminate against women by admitting less qualified men."

How selective. Wonder if there's a similar investigation into 'discrimination against Asians by admitting less qualified minorities'.

The apparatus of the 'civil rights' and 'human rights' industry have fully internalized the politically-fashionable victim-group hierarchy.

10:37 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Jeff Y said...

Women are so successful in offices because of affirmative action. In all professions, men are more productive and more versatile.

The only reason women get head is because they bring a value to a business that men can never bring: women reduce regulatory risk, but men increase it.

It is the same at the schools. Women reduce regulatory risk for universities. Men increase it.

The laws create economic incentives to vaginize our institutions.

10:39 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Billax said...

Dr. Helen,
Here are two data sets that might enrich your artcle:
• 2000 US population by gender
At age 18, the matriculation age for most college Freshmen, there are 105 males for every 100 women.

• SAT scores consistently show that males have higher test scores than females, not only in the Math section, but in the Critical Reading section as well.

So, there are more males than females in the relevant age cohort and they achieve, on average, higher SAT scores. Yet college admissions officers continue on an inexorable path toward a super-majority of female admits.

In 1972, when Title IX was added to the Civil Rights Act, males constituted about 62 percent of college admits. That number was, in my opinion, the proximate cause for Congressional action. Today, women constitute slightly more that 60 percent of college admits, yet no evidence exists that Congress is even aware of this irony.

11:16 AM, November 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless one is entering a profession that requires a college diploma, college is largely a waste of time and money. You start 4 years later and $150 grand in the hole.

The richest people I know swing a hammer or install sinks or have occupations that do not require knowledge of Shakespeare or trigonomtry.

And you'll hate me saying this, but women are in a position of having the luxury of spending time learning worthless crap. It may be somewhat outdated in practice but men are still thought of as having the responsibility of being the breadwinner-of-last-resort in the family unit.

I say this as someone who graduated fourth in my class and attended an Ivy League school on scholarship: College is a waste of time and money. You can learn more with 6 months of on the job training than you can in 4 years of university.

12:04 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger K said...

Forget affirmative action.

The real issue is why, all of a sudden, are girls out performing boys? Could it be that agressive gender feminists are now in charge of the educational establishment? Aren't most elementary school teachers female? How many are union members? How many union members buy the party line? Are they purposely doing to boys what they claim was being done to girls?

These questions demand answers and soon.

12:20 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Dark Eden said...

I really oppose affirmative action for men... the problem is, as you say..

"What is a mystery to me is why so many schools and colleges don't "get" that they are anti-male, pro-female (liberal only) and designed to teach in ways that are not conducive to attracting men but that is another post."

Fix this and there won't be any need for affirmative action. Its like minorities saying that tests are rigged against them... yet they never want to fix the tests or cay say what exactly is wrong with them, they just want free points.

12:21 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Eric said...

The summary of the book
seems to undermine your post, Helen. The book apparently decides that boys can't read well enough soon enough and therefore girl's better reading skills blow them away.

"The signs and statistics are undeniable: boys are falling behind in school. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the biggest culprits are not video games, pop culture, or female-dominated schools biased toward girls. The real problem is that boys have been thrust into a bewildering new school environment that demands high-level reading and writing skills long before they are capable of handling them."

That sounds like a book I don't agree with, and from what I know about you, you wouldn't agree with either.

12:48 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Lupus Solus said...

Tmink -"I think dad's being excluded from their children's lives through the courts and subsidizing single mom's is more the problem."

I agree.

2:29 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Michael S. Kochin said...

For many years Harvard had higher admission standards for women than for men (a point discussed at length in Klitgaard's Choosing Elites, as I recall). Of course, one disguise this as a preference for athletes from "revenue sports."

2:35 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger kentuckyliz said...

Women pursue higher ed because it makes more of a marginal earnings difference to them than it does for a man.

Uneducated women earn the minimum wage or less.

Uneducated men can get higher paying labor jobs.

It takes a woman a college degree to earn what an uneducated man can earn.

That's why more women go to college. They have to.

4:02 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger campy said...

Uneducated men can get higher paying labor jobs.

So could women, if they wanted to.

4:58 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger PioneerPreppy said...

I will have to go against what I see as the norm from posts here and say HE** YES!!

The reason we are in the position men are in today is because the white part of men is not a protected class.

The only white men I see who get any use from their degrees are in a few very technical areas and those who managed to land a job in the 80's.

These days government hires 100's of percent higher in minority areas because of AA (NASA being the least by over hirering almost 47% in minorities).

They are all so afraid of not reaching the AA quota they over hire so the only way to achieve any balance is the make the quotas balanced across the board.

Personally I would rather get rid of all AA but that isn't going to happen so men should get their rightful place in the quota as any others.

7:38 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Amateur Strategist said...

I don't think we should get Affirmative Action, or anyone else for that matter, but I highly doubt the other AA's will go away (why am I saying others? Ours doesn't exist!) because people are too attached to them.

I think if less Men go into college, the whole college system will eventually collapse. I remember reading an article that showed that the less Men go to a college, Women start to stop going to that college as well, how interesting.

I believe that aside from the fields that actually REQUIRE 4 more years of learning (because they have that much more information) college learning can be only 10% as valuable as job experience. I think the college system has become the end-all cure-all answer to anyone earning less than 50k per year (and it's possible to earn more than that without college anyway) and it is time for it to be recognized as the situational solution that it is.

11:12 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

It really isn't feminization of college, but I think of K-12. More and more emphasis is being placed on doing homework, working together, etc., places where girls excel. And, yes, in middle school and high school boys don't do as well academically because they don't sit still as well.

Now, on to college. a lot of colleges have been feminized enough that they give more credit for grades than for test scores. I was in that category 40 years ago, with much higher SATs than grades. I got in a decent small liberal arts school anyway. But I watched a guy this last couple of years who was very much like me, and ended up at a state school (despite his family having plenty of money) much lower ranked - and he had better grades than I did.

Meanwhile the girls I know who recently started college all seemed to have around a 4.0 or better, and the competition among them was brutal.

So, to some extent, the colleges are where they are right now by feminizing their admissions process. But why AA then?

The problem is, apparently, that for many girls right now, who don't want to go to all girls schools, won't go to a college with too many girls. After all, one of the reasons to go to college is to meet potential mates, and you can't do that as well if there aren't enough of them around.

So, there is apparently some magic number between somewhere around maybe 55% to 60% that if the female percentage rises above that, the school loses selectivity.

I should note that the rumor is that the social scene becomes too competitive then, and the guys there can be players, some of them taking a different girl to bed every night, and the girls put up with it to get dates.

So, in the end, the schools discriminate in favor of guys over girls to try to even out the sex ratio, and most everyone is happy.

11:42 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Superdestroyer said...

For all of those who want to blame mean old women teachers or feminist, why do Asian males, jewish males, and the sons of the rich perform just fine in the same schools that fail middle class whites, blue collar Americans, blacks, and Hispanics.

Maybe it is much more about how people raise their children than about how schools operate. If boys never learn to sit down and concentrat, I doubt they will function very well in any job.

8:48 AM, November 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By whose standards are men failing? The men in question would rather go to work than to college and this is failure? Quick, call the White House, we need another program.

9:09 AM, November 08, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

The value of college as a method of learning a career is vastly overrated. There are almost no careers where on-the-job learning isn't vastly superior to classroom learning.

5:18 PM, November 08, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

"There are almost no careers where on-the-job learning isn't vastly superior to classroom learning."

Oh, I don't know about that. Medicine, law, engineering, the sacred ministry are a few that come to mind real quickly.

8:15 PM, November 08, 2009  
Blogger Mister Wolf said...

"If I could offer one piece of advice to young people thinking about their future, it would be this: Don't preconceive. Find out what the opportunities are." - Thomas Sowell

I'm still a rather young man but I have to say this is the single best bit of advice I have ever seen. Find out what the opportunities are and grab them, don't wait around for a job as a copy editor just because you got a degree in poetry(mind you, I actually have a relative who's a successful poet but becoming one is like being a successful actor, vary rare). Find some work and just do it.

Remember, our forefathers didn't have a choice of what job to take. They did what their fathers did usually. Only since the 50's or so did we have true opportunity of employment(granted, it happened for my family during the very early 1900's but that was thanks to the British Raj and the need for educated westerners in India). Appreciate that you have a choice and take it.

12:44 AM, November 09, 2009  

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