The Gender Education Gap

gender-ed-gapOn the 4th of July, the Telegraph’s health editor, Laura Donnelly, penned an article titled Shortage of eligible men has left women taking desperate steps to preserve their fertility, experts say. Given that there are only very slightly more women born than men (as far as I know, gender selection is not being practiced in the UK), what could the problem be?

A dearth of marriagable men has left an “oversupply” of educated women taking desperate steps to preserve their fertility, experts say.

What can this mean? Surely all the men of marriageable age can’t all be taken. Polygamy isn’t even legal in the UK as far as I know. Have vast swaths of the male population been sterilized by disease?

Experts said “terrifying” demographic shifts had created a “deficit” of educated men and a growing problem of “leftover” professional women, with female graduates vastly outnumbering males in in many countries.

Ah, I begin to see the problem. Educated women are insisting on a man who is educated, and more women are educated than men.

In recent decades, the gender balance at British universities has tipped dramatically. In 1985, 45 per cent of UK students were female, but by 2000, 54 per cent were women. This group, now in their late 30s, is finding it harder to find a man of equal status.

And yet in 1985 (shortly before I graduated from university), I don’t recall there being any problem with men finding it hard to find women of equal status.

“These are highly educated, very successful women and one after another they were saying they couldn’t find a partner. How could it be that all these amazing, attractive intelligent women were lamenting about their ability to find a partner?” said Marcia Inhorn, a Professor of Anthopology at Yale University.

I’m guessing it’s because they have unreasonable standards.

The anthropologist suggested some women might need to be prepared to compromise their standards in order to find love.

Called it.

But she suggested society should act to increase the number of men going into higher education.

And how would it do that?

Traditionally women have also wanted to ‘marry up’ to go for someone more successful, financially well off.

Implying they are motivated by greed?

In some cases, the women taking part in the in-depth interviews said they would be happy to be in a relationship with someone less educated, but they felt they were “intimidating” to the men who were available.

I highly doubt “intimidation” is the issue. Men are very aware of female hypergamy (the above mentioned “desire to marry up”), and have no desire to marry a woman with the expectation that she will divorce them at the first opportunity to better her match. That is why men tend to marry down.

The gender gap for higher education is now as large as that between rich and poor people, which was described as a “worrying inequality” by former UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock-Cook.

So much for “male privilege”.

Professor Simon Fishel, founder of Care Fertility, said: “Anthropologically we are always searching, consciously or unconsciously, for like-minded people so it is not a great leap to understand that women are looking for someone on the same level, who is university-educated or a professional.”

While this may be true for women, I don’t think it holds for men. Men who want to marry look for women who are young, healthy, and want to raise children.

The fundamental question, identified but left unanswered in the article, is how should society get more men into education? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Eliminate scholarships and grants that discriminate based on gender. Move to completely meritocratic criteria, using blind applications if needed.
  2. Stop allowing a vocal minority to prevent men’s issues from being discussed on campuses.
  3. Eliminate sensitivity training and mandatory courses outside of a student’s desired field of training.

If I were advising a young man (or woman, for that matter) today, I would tell him avoid any school that tolerates ideologically driven curricula. He should look for a discipline likely to pay off the student debt he will incur. That means going into either STEM or law. If those don’t seem achievable, I’d suggested looking at technical school or the trades.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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