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    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Where The Boys Aren't (Well, Not As Much Anyway)

    Thanks to PCR Sucks. And other useful things I learned in grad school. I saw this article. Excerpts:

    When my grandmother, Martha Georgina Holman (Stewart), graduated from Queen's University in 1902 there were 11 women in arts and science. They made up a tiny portion of the students on campus.

    Wouldn't they be surprised if they walked the corridors or leafy streets of most university campuses in 2005, more than a hundred years later? According to figures released by Statistics Canada earlier this week, women accounted for 59 per cent of all undergraduate registrations in university in 2003/04, the highest proportion ever. . . .

    So what's happened to the guys? What's keeping them out and how is it affecting university life? According to Stephen Easton, who co-authored a study called "Boys, Girls and Grades - Academic Gender Balance in British Columbia's Secondary Schools in 1998," boys are becoming less eligible for university.

    Easton explains, "We evaluate performance differently than we used to." In the past, he says, more importance was given to exam marks, where boys traditionally perform better, but these days overall performance is used and females score higher.

    Louise Gordon, executive director of the Manitoba Council on Post Secondary Education, says because applicants only need a 70 per cent average for admission to the University of Manitoba and 50 per cent for Brandon University, boys aren't being screened out because of marks. She thinks the reasons are complex.

    Gordon says, "You have to look at what is going on in the labour force. Are there a lot of jobs in an industry that will attract young men so that they will take out time to work? Are there fields right now that are encouraging women to go to university? The construction boom across the country is going to attract young men for awhile."

    One thing that has pushed female numbers up is that more women are entering non-traditional disciplines like engineering, spurred on by educators. At the same time, males have not received the same encouragement to pursue non-traditional avenues like nursing or education.

    So, let's recap. Men have opportunities to go make some money when they get out of high school. Women know they're going to end up making $5.25/hr forever if they don't go to college. So they find ways to go.

    Then, we still devalue the so-called "feminine" professions so much that we don't really feel very good about telling anyone they might be a good fit for them.

    Okay. I'm there.

    Whatever the reasons are for declining male enrolment in universities, it's having an effect on everything from classroom discussions to dating.

    Heather, a first year philosophy student at Queen's, says she thinks girls feel more confident to ask questions when they're in the majority. She has also noticed, "There aren't that many guys in the history or English classes and when there are they are mostly good looking, so all the girls flock to them.

    "They run to sit next to them. Some girls wake up two hours before class, straighten their hair, put on a mini skirt, because the guys have so much to choose from. They have all these girls basically throwing themselves at them. Some people aren't focusing as much on the class as getting ready for the class."

    Meric Gertler, vice-dean of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, says while there may be fewer men, it's not silencing them in the classroom. Gertler says, "When there is air time to fill up, the males are more assertive. There have been a couple of noteworthy exceptions where confident young women have made their presence felt in class, but on the whole they revert to form. The young men tend to sound off more quickly than women."

    Somehow I don't buy the argument that heterosexual women would be less likely to straighten their hair and wear miniskirts if there were fewer men around, but whatev!

    As far as the guys holding court, it's true. True, true, true, true, true. I think it would be better if we encouraged/forced women to talk more. Making "participation" part of a student's grade works wonders.

    There are a lot of comments that make me happy. This one intrigued me though:

    Originally, it served as a place for intellectual pursuit, however, in the more technical faculties, such as engineering, business and law, there is little difference from a trade school. The university has become effectively an artificial filter for certain areas of professional practice.


    Anonymous Bitch | Lab said...

    This comment intriqued you: " Originally, it served as a place for intellectual pursuit, however, in the more technical faculties, such as engineering, business and law, there is little difference from a trade school. The university has become effectively an artificial filter for certain areas of professional practice."

    Were you being sarcastic or serious?

    6:55 PM  

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