Looking for a Few Good Men?
The concept of bias has a definite negative connotation and so this seems to be something of a loaded question in that way. Do schools take account of gender in making their admissions decisions? Yes. But to call it bias is of questionable value when it is one of countless factors—ethnic background, socio-economic background, co-curricular activities, individual skill set, course selection, test scores, the list goes one—that schools consider as part of a process aimed at getting as full a picture who that applicant is and in turn what they can bring to the community the admissions office is trying to create. That reality cannot be forgotten. Unless it is a women’s college where basic policy negates any need to consider gender, an applicant’s gender will always be among the many factors considered as schools seek to build the community that serves their mission and goals.
Yup. I think that the best example of this is MIT, which (according to their Common Data Set) admitted about 800 women and 880 men in 2010. So far so good…But they received over twice the number of male as female applicants! In short, it’s almost twice as easy to earn admission to MIT as a female than as a male.
Using gender in the process is not allowed at public colleges, but at private colleges it will often be a factor. Most colleges prefer to stay as close to 50:50 male:female as possible. Thirty years ago, this favored women, now it favors men (more women are applying to college than men).
It exists primarily to try to provide some balance to lopsided departments. For instance there are much less female applicants claiming an interest in engineering or computer science. They would have an advantage over someone with a similar academic record. The same may be true for males in elementary education or social work.
I remember the former days of college admissions, when some colleges had not long been coed and when males constituted the bulk of applicants. In those cases, colleges did not fail to mention that there were quotas relative to one gender or another (in my case, not in favor of women). True, things have changed dramatically so that colleges do not overtly show gender bias. Nevertheless, many colleges are not at a 50:50 ratio these days. (In many cases, women constitute well over half of the existing student population.) As a result, students should be aware that gender is considered to a certain extent in the admissions decision. I am very careful about parents and students having unreasonable expectations in that regard, however. One never knows what will happen in a given year.
As you flip through your guidebooks, you might notice that in many schools, there seems to be more young women than young men in the entering freshmen class. In instances where there are significantly more female students than male students, I think that some schools are somewhat sensitive about an applicant’s gender to a small extent. Remember — schools are interested in compiling a well-rounded student community — and that means a relatively equal distribution of female and male students.
Here is my video response to the question.
Yes it does. Each campus has their own ideas about what makes a high quality freshman class. For some it can mean more men because there are to many women attending, for others it is more minorities and then of course geography plays into this process as well.
The effort to achieve balanced male/female enrollment ratios has been viewed by some as gender bias. Presently, women far outpace men in college application and matriculation which makes achieving a gender balanced class a challenge for all colleges and universities. Most colleges and universities recognize the value of classroom diversity for improved learning outcomes. And, families seeking a collegiate environment actively seek gender balance.
Yes, although you are not likely to hear about it much. It is driven by the fact that there are more women going to college (~60%) versus men (~40%). Most colleges ideally would like to have their student body split evenly between women and men. As a result, it is typically easier for a man to be admitted to an institution versus a woman if everything else is equal.
Naturally, but not as much as in the past & ethnic bias as well – don’t kid yourself into thinking that college is a perfect world!
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