Application Ratio Reaches 60-40
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Women are surpassing men — in number of applicants to Kenyon, that is.
The female-to-male gender gap in applications, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Delahunty, was greater than ever this year, at about 40 percent male applicants and 60 percent female. The incoming class, however, will be about 44 percent male and 56 percent female, according to Delahunty.
This imbalance is an increasing trend, she said, and one she expects to continue, both at Kenyon and nationally.
Colleges and universities nationwide are seeing more women than men applying. In 1979, men made up around 49 percent of undergraduates, but by 2002, acceptance letters , they were down to 43 percent, according to the Kenyon website.
“As recently as six years ago, we were 50-50 in the incoming class, so there’s been a trend toward predominantly … female [students],” Delahunty said. President S. Georgia Nugent said male acceptances were at “an all-time low,” this year, while female acceptances were “on par with last year.”
While the idea of higher-achieving female students and lazy male students has gained traction in recent years, as recently as 2006, males who applied to Kenyon scored higher on math SATs, on average, than female applicants, according to the Kenyon website. Female applicants, however, had higher critical reading scores on average.
Though they actively court male students, Kenyon mails more acceptance letters to females than males, regardless of the gender gap. Kenyon also fills no quotas, choosing instead to evaluate students on the whole instead of basing acceptance on gender, according to Delahunty.
“[Saying we are harder on evaluating female applicants just because we have more of them] would be like saying we’re harder on California kids,” Delaunty said, referring to the large numbers of Californians who apply. “It doesn’t go like that. We’re really looking holistically at the student. …The way we are trained is to look holistically at the students.”
Additionally, the fact that Kenyon matriculates more males — meaning, a higher percentage of males who receive acceptance letters choose to come to Kenyon than females who receive acceptance letters — has alleviated some worry about the increasing application gap, making this just another issue admissions has on its list of things to watch, Delahunty said.
“In the culture and the educational quality of the college, I don’t think it’s [something to be that concerned about],” Delahunty said. “I compare [gender trends] to hanging onto our Ohio base of students. We very much want to keep attracting Ohio students. There [are] so many trends that we’re watching and gender is just one of them, but it’s not a major issue. I think it’s really a confounding societal problem that boys are not going to college.”
Nugent agreed. “I think [this is] true at virtually all liberal arts colleges. It’s not so true at the large research universities, apparently, although they’re experiencing a little bit too. Nobody seems to quite understand what exactly is happening. We’re really trying to think about that. Are there ways that we’re representing Kenyon that don’t appeal to men?,” Nugent said.
Although Delahunty views low male matriculation rates as a problem, she said Kenyon is not doing anything in particular to attract males, mostly because this is not a problem for Kenyon to tackle, but rather the educational system in general.
“[Disproportionate gender trends are] not a Kenyon problem or a Kenyon issue. Nationwide, we’re very close to 60 percent of all students seeking undergraduate degrees [being] women,” Delahunty said. “So what’s happening nationwide is happening at Kenyon, not to the extreme extent, but men [have] much bigger issues [to examine]; if you look at voter participation rates, unemployment [or] suicide, all of those things show … disproportionate emphasis for men. There are larger issues than just college attendance that are working on men or affecting men.”