The Cost of Raising Boys Like Girls

Total enrollment in colleges and universities is expected to rise to 20.6 million by the fall of 2018, according to a new projection from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. That’s a 13 percent increase over the 16 million or so enrolled in 2007, according to the report.
The greatest percentage growth in college enrollments will be among ethnic minorities, according to the report: 38 percent among Hispanics and 26 percent among blacks. Those projections seem to be based upon trends reflecting increased immigration among the former and improved socioeconomic status among the latter. College enrollment for whites is expected to be relatively static, only a 4 percent increase.
The most intriguing—and perhaps most demographically alarming–of the National Center’s projections is this: College enrollment among women is expected to grow by 16 percent, compared with a growth of only 9 percent among men. The U.S. college student population is already 55 percent female, with the total number of women on campus, nearly 10.5 million, outnumbering male students by nearly 2.5 million. Two conclusions can be drawn from this gender gap that is slated to grow wider, not narrower, as the years pass.


The first is that the “war against boys,” the campaign, described by American Enterprise Institute scholar and former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers in a 2000 cover story in The Atlantic and a 2001 book by that name, is continuing unabated. Sommers pointed out that, thanks to efforts by feminists and their male allies in academia, “Raise boys like we raise girls” (to quote Gloria Steinem) became a pedagogical mantra. Schools promote girlishness via, for example, insisting that sports be co-ed, encouraging open expression of feelings, and focusing on female heroines and role models in textbooks, while at the same time downplaying pedagogical approaches that encourage boys to acquire self-discipline and get interested in learning, such as competition, scope for rough play, and all-male groups such as Cub Scouts or Little League that provide positive images of masculinity. Added to that is the tendency of feminist academics to pooh-pooh fatherlessness, despite sociological studies indicating a strong correlation between growing up without a father and violence and other antisocial behavior among young men. As a result Girls generally outperform boys in school, and boys, as the National Center’s statistics amply demonstrate, are increasingly less likely to go to college.
The second conclusion to be drawn is the near certainty that the so-called STEM majors in college (science, techonology, engineering, and mathematics) that are academically demanding but crucial to scientific and technological innovation, will further decline in popularity.
Already only 28 percent of entering college freshman choose STEM majors, and only 17 percent of undergraduate degrees are awarded in STEM fields. Because male high school students consistently outperform their female counterparts on the quantitative section of the SAT exam that tests mathematical reasoning, the foundation of the sciences (probably because—sorry, Harvard faculty!–the male brain is structured that way), STEM majors are overwhelmingly male-dominated. Only 14 percent of female entering freshmen decide to major in STEM fields, compared with 33 percent of male freshmen.
And while, due to the growing campus gender imbalance, we can expect to see fewer and fewer college students choosing the majors that turn out the scientists and engineers who are critical to America’s economic vitality, we can also expect to see the feminization of the humanities proceed at an even faster pace, with a concomitant decline in their status, for despite feminists’ protestations of unfairness, men shun fields in which women predominate. As long ago as 1998, Lynn Hunt, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that women were approaching parity with men in numbers of undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded in the humanities. Now, it’s safe to say that certain humanities majors—literature and art history, for example—have a reputation as “chick majors” that draw little male student interest, which translates into diminishing student interest in general. Indeed, according to a February 2009 article in the New York Times, only 8 percent of college students these days (about 110,000 of them) are choosing humanities majors, about half the percentage of young people who decided to major in the humanities during their academic heyday of the mid- to- late 1960s. Furthermore, Feminized fields tend to be seedbeds of feminist ideology, another turnoff for male students in particular and students of both sexes in general who would rather not sign up for thinly veiled indoctrination sessions.
In short, the latest campus-demography projections from the National Center for Education Statistics are good news in testifying to the improved socioeconomic status of historically lagging ethnic minorities but bad news for a society that ought to value men and the role that only men can play in constructing a vibrant and healthy civilization.

Charlotte Allen

Charlotte Allen blogs for the Los Angeles Times and writes frequently about cultural trends for the Weekly Standard.

One thought on “The Cost of Raising Boys Like Girls”

  1. While I agree overall with you Ms. Allen is it possible that our society is nearing a crossroads that we don’t know how to mentally accept? In the hellenistic period many countries like Turkey were based on female dieties, and matriarchy. For a man to castrate himself & become a eunuch priest of the Goddess Diana was considered a priviledge. This is extreme I know, but so are the demands on males to be supermen, when there’s no need for them anymore. Just go with the flow, women will rule us eventually, yet want us to be macho men simultaneously.

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