Local News

Where the Boys Are ... Not on Campus

Posted September 13, 2007 7:31 p.m. EDT

— A gender gap on college campuses nationwide continues to expand, but officials said those numbers haven't yet moved from the classroom to the boardroom.

Women earned 58 percent of bachelor degrees last year, and the number is expected to hit 60 percent by 2012, according to national figures. Females also rule on University of North Carolina system campuses, where they comprise 57.4 percent of undergraduate and graduate students.

"I don't know that this is a crisis," said Steve Farmer, admissions director at UNC-Chapel Hill. "Young men are going to college in greater numbers than ever before. It's just that young women are going to college in greater numbers than men."

Four decades ago, men accounted for about 70 percent of UNC's enrollment. But after Title IX gave women more educational opportunities, their numbers started growing, and they first outnumbered men in 1975.

North Carolina State University and the North Carolina School of the Arts are the only schools in UNC's 16-campus system with more men enrolled than women this year. Meanwhile, Duke University is close to an even split between genders.

Some people have asked if early education is somehow failing boys, who are more likely to drop out of high school, go to prison and seek lower-skilled jobs than girls.

"Some of the factors have to do with different economic opportunities available to men as opposed to women," Farmer said.

Many UNC students said they have grown accustomed to the campus gender gap.

"I think it's a really good thing because it shows growing opportunities for women," Kelsie Grabert said.

"As long as they consider you on your qualifications and they're not biased by gender, I think its completely fair," Jakub Dmochowski said.

Still, the female education numbers barely register in the corporate and political world, which remain dominated by males, said Donna Bickford, director of the Carolina Women's Center.

"I think its overblown," Bickford said of the campus gender gap. "We're often in the situation of celebrating the gains we've made, but continuing to point out the work that needs to be done."