There are almost 3 women for every 2 men in college in the United States. Every Ivy League school except for Dartmouth and Princeton has more women than men, and the bar is lower to get into many of them if you’re a man, especially at Brown where it’s about 40% easier to gain admittance, and at Columbia and Yale, where each is about 25% easier to get into. Smaller liberal arts schools such as Sarah Lawrence University find themselves with student populations at 75% women and 25% men. As fantastic as it is that so many young women are getting after it and going to college, the consequence of this dramatic skew harms both genders.
Beyond the actual social and economic impact this could have, having a pronounced gender skew destroys college dating life for women. Hook-up culture has exploded across college campuses nationwide, with the ensuing consequences. This is alive and well at Cornell University, where a minuscule number of men have massive amounts of women at their beck and call.
Such dramatic gender skews on college campuses accentuates the worst of hook-up culture. Women are significantly more likely than men to be distressed after a hook-up, and they generally want long-term relationships more, at least early on in life.
Once in a relationship, men have lower motivation to treat their partners well, as they simply have more options and freedom in the college environment. In many circles in college culture, showing too much care for someone is often a sign of ‘neediness’ and comes off as unattractive.
As unfortunate as these developments are for women in terms of dating, it can also negatively impact men. In the short term, men can be attracted to environments with huge skews, but it doesn’t actually help them develop a healthy romantic life. There is a clear link between frequent hook-ups and chronic dissatisfaction with one’s love life, leading to a cycle of short-term ego boosts but a lack of overall fulfillment.
But why does this academic lag exist in the first place? Multiple factors are at play. Traditionally female-dominated roles, such as nursing and education, require some form of college education. However, traditionally male-dominated roles such as plumbing, welding, and other trades don’t require a formal college education. Additionally, women’s brains develop faster than men’s, which could explain women’s edge throughout their schooling.
Another theory is that the educational system isn’t as conducive to the strengths of boys as they are to girls. According to some studies, young men are worse at following directions and respecting authority. Since grades are largely impacted by how well students listen to and follow the directions of a teacher, this can, in part, explain their worse performance.
Finally, the “girl power” movements of the past few decades, which have been critically important, more than accomplished their goal in terms of equal gender representation in colleges, and we’re witnessing lingering intertia of that carrying women well beyond the 50% mark.
For example, in my time in the American public high school system, the popular film celebrating female success in NASA, “Hidden Figures”’ was mandatory screening on three separate occasions, not including the first time I saw it in theaters. I’m not complaining at all. I love “Hidden Figures,” and thoroughly enjoyed every viewing. There will always be a need for young girls to be empowered, and those films provide ample inspiration.
We shouldn’t scale back on empowering girls, but we should catalyze a similar cultural movement to positively inspire boys as well. If young boys don’t feel included, seen, and appreciated in the academic sphere from a young age, then it’s ludicrous to expect them to embrace higher education.
The void of healthy narratives about masculinity has been filled by toxic extremists such as Andrew Tate. Over the past year, Tate has rocketed to massive popularity, with billions of views on the social media platform TikTok alone, where boys as young as middle schoolers absorb his content.
Tate’s message, which a quarter of men aged 18-29 in the UK agree with, revolves around the idea that men have total control over women in an ideal society. He pushes for antiquated and misogynistic practices, such as not allowing women to drive, keeping women in the home, and furthering the idea that they are a man’s property.
He also promotes violence against women, glamorizing through his many outlets stories of him attacking and abusing women who dared to disagree or annoy him. His sub-human views of women are being picked up en-masse by our youngest generation, and will continue to proliferate in the absence of positive male role models.
Some kind of cultural shift needs to happen in terms of how developing young boys view themselves, their place in society, and their idea of “self-betterment” and ambition, otherwise misogynistic figures such as Tate will only continue to promote unhealthy ideas of what it means to be a happy, successful man in modern society.
So, the question is: should we change the education system to be more in line with the strengths of men? Or, should we change how we raise men to be better at conforming to those societal expectations? Perhaps both need to happen for an effective impact to be made. Perhaps still, society needs to think hard about what they want out of men, what kind of future we are creating for young boys today, and what impact it will have on us all.