College Gender Gap: Women Earn More Degrees AND Get Special Treatment


Men may make more money than women on average, but women earn more college degrees, and have done so since 1982. Even so, the 177 women’s centers on American college campuses show no sign of closing. Ostensibly pushing for “gender equity,” these centers seem to have achieved their purpose. If they continue to advocate for women over men, that becomes discrimination.


According to the Department of Education, women in the Class of 2017 earned 141 college degrees at all levels for every 100 men (up from 139 last year), leaving a 659,000 college degree gap (up from 610,000 last year). But despite this growing degree gap, there are at least 177 women’s centers still operating on college campuses across the country, some receiving public funding, with the stated goals of “promoting (or advocating) gender equity” and promoting “women’s success.”

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)’s Mark Perry broke down the numbers — and the hypocrisy. This May, women earned 164 associates degrees for every 100 degrees men earned (up from 154:100 last year). They also earned 135 bachelor’s degrees for every 100 degrees earned by men, 140 master’s degrees for every 100 male degrees, and 109 doctoral degrees for every 100 earned by men.

Women overtook men step by step over the past 39 years. In 1978, they took the majority of associate’s degrees for the first time. The bachelor’s degrees majority went female in 1982, with master’s degrees following in 1987. Since 2007, women have also earned more doctoral degrees than men.

Finally, the gender disparity is only expected to increase. By 2026, women are projected to earn 150 college degrees for every 100 degrees earned by men, and the gap increases for associate’s degrees (187 women for every 100 men) and master’s degrees (140 women for every 100 men).


As Perry noted, men are now the “second sex” in higher education. But it also gets worse. Women aren’t just the majority of degree-earners, they also receive special treatment as if they were the struggling minority.

The University of Minnesota Women’s Center aims to “advance gender equity,” by educating and inspiring “feminist leaders.” The University of Virginia Women’s Center (founded in 1989 — seven years after women gained the majority of bachelor’s degrees for the first time) aims to provide “programs and services that advocate gender equity.”

The Women’s Center at Duke University exists to help “every woman at Duke become self-assured with a kind of streetwise savvy that comes from actively engaging with the world. We welcome men and women alike who are committed to gender equity and social change.” What about increasing the number of men who get college degrees? Is that kind of “social change” welcome?

As AEI’s Mark Perry noted, the publicly stated goal of almost every Women’s Center is “gender equity,” but they seem unconcerned with the gender disparity favoring women.

“There is also apparently no willingness for any of these women’s center to close down even though gender equity in higher education was achieved 35 years ago (for college degrees), and there is no question that women are now much more successful than men in terms of both completing college and earning degrees at all levels from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees,” Perry wrote.


He laid out the “gender disparity” hypocrisy in no uncertain terms.

Perry explained “Rule A” of gender equality: “Any outcome where women statistically represent less than 50% of a population (or if the women’s softball field bleachers are inferior to the boy’s baseball field bleachers) is a case of gender inequity, sexism, and/or discrimination that must be addressed with government investigations, awareness, public funding for women’s centers,” etc. (emphasis his).

But it gets really interesting with “Rule B.” Perry explained that “any gender imbalance where women represent more than 50% of a population… isn’t really gender inequity, or at least it is gender inequity that doesn’t really count and can be completely ignored because those statistical gender disparities are a natural outcome of women being more talented than men, or naturally more interested/motivated than men in certain fields of study and careers.”

Perhaps now the explanations for why men tend to make more money than women seem less far-fetched. Men are more willing to take “dirty jobs” at odd hours and with inflexible commitments that pay more, while women are statistically more likely to opt for more flexible jobs that allow more time with children. If it is sexism to explain these preferences, then it is equally sexism to explain why women earn more degrees than men in this way.


But the situation is actually much more perverse. Perry provided the example of the University of Michigan-Flint, which gives out three faculty awards that are only open to female faculty members. “In all three cases, these awards blatantly discriminate against male faculty and staff members (men need not applycannot apply), and brazenly grant special preferences for female faculty and staff members,” the AEI scholar noted.

These awards arguably violate the Michigan Constitution, which explicitly states that public colleges “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Perry asks, “Can you simultaneously be in favor of: a) gender equality and equal treatment for both genders, and b) special treatment and gender favoritism for female faculty and staff, and still be intellectually and legally consistent?” The answer should be clear to anyone.

“Perhaps the problem is that gender discrimination against men and gender favoritism towards women have become so ingrained, internalized and institutionalized in higher education that most students, faculty, administrators, staff, taxpayers, politicians, alumni and donors don’t even see it as a problem when universities discriminate against men and actively promote preferential treatment for women,” Perry wrote (emphasis added).


The argument that women are an “oppressed” class is very tempting for those on the Left, and it helps explain the success of shows like Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a misogynist dystopia which is nothing at all like modern America, whatever Hillary Clinton might say.

Men’s rights activists might be laughed at, but it’s not hard to understand their complaints. Men — especially white cisgender men — are villainized and blamed for the injustices of society, struggle in school, and are more likely to lose assets in divorces. Feminists are also waging a relentless “war on boys,” using buzz terms like “toxic masculinity.” Two photos at the “Women’s March” told the story: a girl held a sign reading “girl power,” but a boy held a sign reading “boys will be boys good humans.”

Some of these complaints may go overboard, but it is quite concerning that colleges still treat women as the oppressed minority when men are really the “second sex” in higher education. It’s time for feminists to stop the hypocrisy and stand up for gender equity, not special treatment for women.


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