Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Op-Ed: The Gender Gap

A recent article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette discusses an "imbalance in the number of male and female college graduates." I feel compelled to bring this dialogue to the attention of others, as the tone of the article suggests that academia must scramble to either balance the aforementioned "imbalance," or return things to a male-dominated world of higher-education. Both notions are not only ignorant but detrimental to hundreds of years of female progression in society.

The article goes on to suggest ways to "counter the gap" and ameliorate the situation going on on campuses throughout the nation. The only shining light in the article is presented by Linda Sax, an associate professor at UCLA (Sax is also affiliated with their Higher Education Research Institute). Sax is quick to refute any inclination that 'the gender gap' will result in fewer marriages, which it appears is a major concern for the author of the article and her audience. In addition, the author touches on an idea presented by Tom Mortenson, a higher-ed analyst that gender-specific teaching is necessary to amend the gap. Thankfully, Linda Sax is able to nix this thought, arguing that better preparing men for college is a cause worth taking, any sex-specific education initiative may be detrimental to the progress experienced by women.

My main concern with some of the sentiments posted in this article are that there is some level of concern simply because women are now in the majority of degree-holders:
"In 2005, women made up 57 percent of the 17.5 million students enrolled in degree-granting institutions throughout the country...In 2005 there were 213,000 more bachelor's degrees awarded to woman than men nationally."
This should be a cause for celebration, or if nothing else further study. Is this such a dangerous problem because it threatens the male-dominated hierarchy that has subsisted in this country for so long? Perhaps. What is alarming is that such a great deal of emphasis is placed on marriage. While it may be noteworthy as a hypothesis for an externality of 'the gender gap,' why not explore more? Maybe 'the gender gap' will result in more stay-at-home dads. I'm sure that would please the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette audience. What I feel is most outrageous is that this article is written by a (wait for it) woman. What's more is that a simple search returns quite a few articles written by Ms. Tubbs for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Wouldn't it make sense for a professional woman to want the most for not only herself but for future generations of women? Why produce an article that, in my opinion, offers no semblance of progress for women?

Stephen Feldman, editor

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