College and the Single Girl

I know it seems like we do this a lot, but it’s time to start wringing your hands again about women who go to college. Apparently there are too many of us! And now we can’t get boyfriends!

North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges. Women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. Researchers there cite several reasons: women tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students.

In terms of academic advancement, this is hardly the worst news for women — hoist a mug for female achievement. And certainly, women are primarily in college not because they are looking for men, but because they want to earn a degree.

But surrounded by so many other successful women, they often find it harder than expected to find a date on a Friday night.

Fifty-seven percent female feels “eerily like a women’s college”? Really?

The line “And certainly, women are primarily in college not because they are looking for men, but because they want to earn a degree” is also an instant classic. Way to go, New York Times.

Needless to say, this puts guys in a position to play the field, and tends to mean that even the ones willing to make a commitment come with storied romantic histories. Rachel Sasser, a senior history major at the table, said that before she and her boyfriend started dating, he had “hooked up with a least five of my friends in my sorority — that I know of.”

These sorts of romantic complications are hardly confined to North Carolina, an academically rigorous school where most students spend more time studying than socializing. The gender imbalance is also pronounced at some private colleges, such as New York University and Lewis & Clark in Portland, Ore., and large public universities in states like California, Florida and Georgia. The College of Charleston, a public liberal arts college in South Carolina, is 66 percent female. Some women at the University of Vermont, with an undergraduate body that is 55 percent female, sardonically refer to their college town, Burlington, as “Girlington.”

It’s “Girlington” because it’s 55 percent female? I think something else is going on here, and it’s not “there are too many ladies around.”

I went to New York University, which does skew female. And yes, my female friends and I joked about the dearth of single straight men on campus (NYU is also pretty LGBT-friendly and pulls in a lot of gay students). But when you look at the actual numbers of women vs. men on campus, it’s not so unbalanced that dudes are pulling five chicks a night. It seems to be a problem of perception more than statistics — if there are roughly equal numbers of men and women in a room, or if there are a few more women than men, we perceive the situation as thoroughly female-dominated. The same phenomenon happens with race. We’re used to seeing men (and white men in particular) as the standard; we’re used to them dominating higher education and the workforce. When we up the numbers of non-men in a situation where men have traditionally made up large majorities, the perception is that no more men exist — even though men are nearly half of the room.

So I am hesitant to believe that “Thanks to simple laws of supply and demand, it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box.”

It gets even worse than that, though, the Times warns. Not only are college women lonely, they’re also “hooking up,” as the kids say, in an effort to find love:

“On college campuses where there are far more women than men, men have all the power to control the intensity of sexual and romantic relationships,” Kathleen A. Bogle, a sociologist at La Salle University in Philadelphia, wrote in an e-mail message. Her book, “Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus,” was published in 2008.

“Women do not want to get left out in the cold, so they are competing for men on men’s terms,” she wrote. “This results in more casual hook-up encounters that do not end up leading to more serious romantic relationships. Since college women say they generally want ‘something more’ than just a casual hook-up, women end up losing out.”

W. Keith Campbell, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia, which is 57 percent female, put it this way: “When men have the social power, they create a man’s ideal of relationships,” he said. Translation: more partners, more sex. Commitment? A good first step would be his returning a woman’s Facebook message.

Women on gender-imbalanced campuses are paying a social price for success and, to a degree, are being victimized by men precisely because they have outperformed them, Professor Campbell said. In this way, some colleges mirror retirement communities, where women often find that the reward for outliving their husbands is competing with other widows for the attentions of the few surviving bachelors.

“If a guy is not getting what he wants, he can quickly and abruptly go to the next one, because there are so many of us,” said Katie Deray, a senior at the University of Georgia, who said that it is common to see six provocatively clad women hovering around one or two guys at a party or a bar.

Sidenote: If I could take one phrase out of the English language, it would be “provocatively clad” (or “provocatively dressed”). What, exactly, is a provocatively clad woman provoking? Erections? When I see a dude at a bar wearing one of those white COCKS hats, I feel provoked into punching him (although I restrain myself, obviously); when I see this young man without any pants on, I think, “those are some nice thighs, I would like to see more of that.” Yet I have never once heard a man’s style of dress described as “provocative.” Even when he’s wearing a hat that simultaneously advertises his favorite sports team and his junk. Even when he’s pantless and smoking a cigarette on the potty.

ANYWAY. Again, the ratio of women to men in college is not six to one! And instead of just bemoaning how a 56 percent female population means that we don’t get as many dates as we would like, perhaps it’s worth looking at the fact that women go to college in larger numbers in part because men have more options if college doesn’t suit them. Jobs in construction, the military, factories, the fishing industry… they are all technically open to women, but are often not exactly welcoming. They also don’t require a college degree, but often pay significantly more than minimum wage. Similar pink-collar jobs — jobs that are disporportionately female and don’t usually require higher education — are largely care-related, and pay very little. When preparing to leave high school, young women and young men have different options at their immediate disposal. For young women, college may seem like a better choice, even if they aren’t all that academically motivated or inclined; for young men, it’s easier to see how you could make a decent living without a college degree.

But I suppose that story isn’t nearly as fun and scary as one that ends like this:

The loneliness can be made all the more bitter by the knowledge that it wasn’t always this way.

“My roommate’s parents met here,” said Mitali Dayal, a freshman at North Carolina. “She has this nice little picture of them in their Carolina sweatshirts. Must be nice.”

Ah yes, it wasn’t always this way. In the good old days a lot of schools wouldn’t even let women in, but at least someone’s roommate’s parents could get a date.

Similar Posts (automatically generated):

83 comments for “College and the Single Girl

  1. P.T. Smith
    February 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm


    It’s “Girlington” because it’s 55 percent female? I think something else is going on here, and it’s not “there are too many ladies around.”

    I think this is part of the bullshit of the article (and journalism) as a whole. I’ve never, ever heard anyone refer to Burlington as “Girlington.” Do people discuss how it is a much better city to be a guy lookin to meet a lady than it is to be a lady lookin to meet a guy? Yes. But that has little to do with UVM, less to do with the other colleges around, a little bit to the numbers, but more so to the fact that the dudes around here are often, well, Vermonters (i.e. can’t hardly dress themselves, hygeine is optional, etc.) or college bros. (All criticism of my town and “Vermonters” made with nothing but love. Criticsm of college bros is made with disdain.)

    It’s really based on little but people watching and appearances, there are more better-looking, better dressed women around here than men, so that’s what people pay more attention to (I’d also say that more women are also dressed interestingly, with something resembling personal style, than men, leading some observers (i.e. me), to assume that they are more interesting as people than the people who are dressed incredibly boringly) . But Girlington? I think one person may have called it that, her friend laughed, and the journalist when, YES.

    And, another side-note, I suggest we don’t take “provocatively dressed” out of the language, but instead use your meaning of “that dude in the white ‘COCK’ hat is provoking me toward violence.” I like that meaning.

  2. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Jill, are you really saying that women are somehow disadvantaged because men have more options in manual labor jobs like fishing and construction?

    20 years ago, feminists were fighting tooth and nail to get into college and women have gained parity (if not more) in college attendance. Shouldn’t you just take this as a win, instead of turning it into a “men can bust their ass doing manual jobs and we can’t”.

    Maybe women in general would rather be doctors or lawyers instead of going out on a boat catching tuna. I personally know general contractors and they hardly (if ever) get applications or resumes from women. So maybe it isn’t because men are holding women back (or not being accommodating)…maybe women just don’t want to do hard labor jobs.

    • February 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      Jill, are you really saying that women are somehow disadvantaged because men have more options in manual labor jobs like fishing and construction?

      No, that’s not what I’m saying. But “maybe women just don’t want to do hard labor jobs!” is pretty shallow reasoning.

  3. February 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    “Don’t be successful! You’ll be lonely and miserable!”

    It’s not true and it never has been, yet it never gets old. Playing on insecurities and aligning with cultural narratives can be effective for generations even when directly contrary to the evidence. When the evidence is diffuse and hard to observe directly, and the fear is supported by the culture, this is particularly true.

  4. DAS
    February 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    How does “the college is > 50% women” translate to “women are not able to get boyfriends”? Even assuming everybody involved is straight, people don’t necessarily restrict their dating to fellow students at their same college. I went to a college where > 50% of the students were women but if you did a survey, you’d find that most of the women had boyfriends but a smaller percentage of the men did.

    How could that be? Well, many women were dating boyfriends they knew from “home” or otherwise were dating off campus.

  5. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm


    How is it shallow reasoning when women are making a conscious choice not to apply for manual labor jobs?

    I have a lot of family in blue collar trades (general contractors, foreman’s, etc…). They hardly even see a resume from a women for a construction position. How can you blame men having more options when the real problem is women wont even apply for these jobs?

  6. Sheelzebub
    February 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Brandon, women are often shut out of those jobs, and have encountered a lot of hostility. The manual labor jobs we do get easily tend to be “pink collar” and not pay as well.

    Jill, I’m just struck by how, when they talk about a guy being with five of his girlfriend’s friends before he dated her, it’s no big deal for him, but it’s somehow the fault of women for going to college. If a woman dated five of a guy’s fraternity brothers before going out with him, people would be slut-shaming her.

  7. me and not you
    February 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Going to a female dominated school does not prevent you from getting dates. Hell, going to an all women’s college probably doesn’t prevent you from getting dates (I went to an all women’s high school, but we were closely associated with an all men’s school, so it probably doesn’t count). I think the whole “going to school” thing has greater impact on your ability to get a date (assuming you’re actually studying) than the female-male ratio, unless we’re talking 70/30 or 80/20. Incidentally, do believe I asked out every person I dated–but apparently I’m impatient like that.

    Also, Brandon, I know a number of women who did (or tried to) work in manual labor jobs. They’re not exactly women friendly positions.

  8. February 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    This makes me stabby. I started college almost 20 years ago, met a boy within my first week of school and dated him for a year until I realized that I was in college not to have a boyfriend, but to get an education. And while I certainly did my share of “hooking up” after he and I broke up, it was as much on my terms as the guys. I was not even 22 when I graduated from college. 22!!!!! I wanted to live *my* life, find out who *I* was. Not instantly become “wife.” And I would whole heartedly recommend that approach for all young women, no matter how many boys you have access to in college.

    I wonder how that story would have read if Alex Williams was a she instead of a he.

  9. Andrea
    February 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Gee Brandon, maybe it’s for the same reason that you see fewer male secretaries? Maybe it’s the environment traditionally associated with jobs like construction? I mean, that trope of the cat-calling construction worker comes from somewhere, doesn’t it? It doesn’t mean women can’t or don’t, it means their systemically excluded. Women can go catch tuna. I know a woman who works on a lobster boat in Maine. But there are societal stigmas attached to all sorts of work that belie your easy, off-handed analysis of “women just don’t want to.” And anyway, when has what women actually want ever swayed the structure of society?

  10. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm


    You missed my point. If women don’t even apply for a construction position, how can they be “shut out”?

    As I stated previously, most of my family is in that trade (most of my uncles are business owners)and they barely see a women’s resume for a construction position (it’s like 99.9% male applicants). I also live in a rather progressive state (Mass), so one would think there would be at least some female applicants. In fact the only time they do get to see a woman’s resume is when the company is hiring a bookkeeper or office assistant job (i.e pink collar work).

    Again, how can they face hostility if they don’t even apply?

    What I am saying is that men in general aren’t preventing women from entering these trades, women are choosing not to because they don’t want to do that kind of work.

  11. chipchop
    February 9, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I was going to say what DAS said: are colleges really so isolated that you can’t have relationships outside them? And this:

    “In this way, some colleges mirror retirement communities, where women often find that the reward for outliving their husbands is competing with other widows for the attentions of the few surviving bachelors.”

    is so fucking offensive I don’t even know where to start.

  12. P.T. Smith
    February 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm


    Your argument is all kinds of sloppy. It’s easy to face hostility before applying. If the general socialized belief is that that sort of work “isn’t for women,” and they are told they won’t be capable of it, or they’ll be thought (the horror!) a lesbian; and if it is easy to find and hear about examples of women getting into those jobs and then facing hostility, then you know what? Hostility is felt before applying.

    Calling Mass a progressive state is also a simplifying of the state. I don’t think it’s really possible to overall label MA progressive without hedging it with “in some respects.” One of those respects isn’t really the blue collar culture. I don’t know where in MA you’re at, but the blue collar scene there can often still be very aggressively NON-progressive, and non-welcoming to difference.

    You’re right in that “men in general” aren’t preventing women from entering these trades, but that doesn’t mean that society and socialization aren’t reallllly pushing women away from it.

  13. February 9, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Again, how can they face hostility if they don’t even apply?

    What I am saying is that men in general aren’t preventing women from entering these trades, women are choosing not to because they don’t want to do that kind of work.

    Maybe they don’t apply because they have observed what happens to those few who do – which is that they face hostility. So perhaps a more rational conclusion would be “women choose not to because they don’t want to have to put up with hostility”.



    Furthermore, men in certain industries even when there are not women on the workforce, often interact with women outside the workforce in ways that are less than encouraging for a woman who wants an amenable working environment.

  14. Sheelzebub
    February 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Brandon, I live in MA as well, and I don’t think it’s all that progressive. It’s disingenuous to say that “men in general” aren’t preventing women from entering the trades–there is a long and well-documented history of hostility towards women in the trades.

  15. Wednesday
    February 9, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Sure, a skewed sex ratio can have a really harmful effect on social dynamics within the student body, but… they’re saying that happens 57%? Really?

    No one tell the writer(s) of this article about Caltech and MIT. I don’t quite know what they’d blame women for in those cases, but I’m sure I don’t want to know.

  16. roses
    February 9, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Brandon – absolutely it’s a win for feminism that more women are going to college. But over and over and over again, the media frames it as a loss for men, even though more men are also going to college. But because they are no longer in the majority, they must be losing, and that must be feminism’s fault. When the reality is there are a lot of reasons men might drop out of college or not go, and one of those reasons is that men know they have the option of getting a decently paying job in construction or manufacturing, without needing to spend four years and thousands of dollars at a university.

    As for women not applying for construction jobs, that may be. But why aren’t they applying? Because when they were children, they were in the kitchen cleaning and baking with their mothers while their brothers were out working on the car and house with their fathers. Because nobody ever told them: “You have an aptitude for working with your hands”. Because “only dykes take shop class”. Because they were taught to value being thin and pretty over strong and tough. Because they never see women represented in the construction industry and it didn’t occur to them that it’s a job women can do. Because they have female friends or relatives working construction, and have heard horror stories about the harassment, exclusion, and sexual assault women who work those jobs undergo. Because they spent a summer or a semester or a year working construction, experienced those attitudes for themselves, and decided to go back to school or take a pink collar job instead of applying again. Because it’s hard being a pioneer and they don’t want to be the one to have to break down that barrier.

    Way more complicated than “women don’t want to do the work”.

  17. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Are you saying that one woman’s fear of hostility cascades across the entire gender? So one woman has a bad experience and every woman calls it quits for trade work? Seems like a flaky argument.

    I am constantly on job sites and the very few women that work there are happy and enjoy their jobs. So I still don’t see where this whole hostility thing is coming from. The only thing I can think of is my families businesses are run differently from most other trade businesses (which I highly doubt).

    So in your opinion, what do you feel needs to change in trades so that more women get jobs in the industry?

  18. chipchop
    February 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    “Are you saying that one woman’s fear of hostility cascades across the entire gender? So one woman has a bad experience and every woman calls it quits for trade work?”

    No. No one said that.

  19. Andrea
    February 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    “So in your opinion, what do you feel needs to change in trades so that more women get jobs in the industry?”

    Obviously we need more men like you who really listen to what women (and others) are telling you, without reducing their arguments to a silly line like “So one woman has a bad experience and every woman calls it quits for trade work?”. Oh wait, no. That’s what we don’t need.

  20. james
    February 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    We’re used to seeing men … as the standard; we’re used to them dominating higher education and the workforce. When we up the numbers of non-men in a situation where men have traditionally made up large majorities… It seems to be a problem of perception more than statistics…

    I just don’t believe this. If you were talking about women born in 1950 you might have a point. But 18-22 year old college girls are not used to men dominating higher education and the workforce, women have been present in either broadly equal numbers or the majority in these areas ever since these women have been able to read. That’s particularly the case in sectors of the workforce (teaching/healthcare/services that young girls would be exposed to).

    The obvious interpretation is the correct one. The standard women get accustomed to in secondary school is broadly equal numbers. As men leave education to do other things on the path to university, the ratio’s skewed and people naturally pick up on it. The implications of the percentages are a bit easier to pick up on if they’re expressed as dilution ratios: 55% is 1.22:1, 57% is 1.33:1, 60% is 1.5:1. These aren’t small effects, it’s stuff you’d notice walking around campus or looking about a bar.

    I think the rest of it was good though.

  21. Bitter Scribe
    February 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I wish professors and others would worry less about the sex lives of college students, and a lot more about keeping college affordable and improving students’ employment prospects.

  22. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm


    First off, I am on no one’s side. Second, problems don’t get solved with snarky comebacks. I asked an honest question about steps you and others would like to see happen to have women enter trade work.


    I was replying to this statement made by P.T Smith:

    “and if it is easy to find and hear about examples of women getting into those jobs and then facing hostility, then you know what? Hostility is felt before applying.”

    Meaning that if a woman or a small segment of women have had bad experiences (i.e hostility) then other women would be hesitant to apply. I think this hits the nail on the head when I mentioned “women’s fear of applying cascading across the entire gender (or at least a larger portion of it)” Women are afraid of confronting that fear, so they don’t apply.

  23. Andrea
    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Brandon, I’m so sorry for being snarky with you. (Okay, that was snarky, because I’m not really sorry). Why don’t you read roses’ comment, and rather thoughtful analysis, on the many factors that might be contributing to this problem before saying things like “So one woman has a bad experience and every woman calls it quits for trade work?” (And as far as snarky goes: pot meet kettle.) You can be as obtuse as you want about it, but don’t expect much sympathy as a result.

  24. February 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    “So maybe it isn’t because men are holding women back (or not being accommodating)…maybe women just don’t want to do hard labor jobs.”


    I applied for a job at a painting company as a painter once. The owner was more than happy to hire me….as his secretary. I didn’t take that job, however. I was too insulted and infuriated that he thought I couldn’t possibly paint houses due to the fact that I have a vagina, despite the fact that I have quite a great deal of personal experience doing exactly that.

    Oh, and ditto what everyone else here has already said.

  25. chipchop
    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    @Brandon: PT said it was “easy to find and hear about examples of women…”, which you turned into “one woman has a bad experience….” So you were misrepresenting PT’s comment.

    When you say “women are afraid of confronting that fear,” you are again making it sound like it’s “women’s fear of hostility” that’s the problem, and not the hostility itself.

  26. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm


    Fear is what holds people back. The same things happen to men when they try and enter “woman dominated” industries (teaching, nursing, social work). I used to work for a non-profit company and there were 30 women and 2 men. Sometimes it was intimidating because I saw certain things differently than they did.

  27. February 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Fear is what holds people back.”

    So does hostility and discrimination. You just don’t seem to want to acknowledge that fact.

  28. chipchop
    February 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm


    So if women simply “confronted their fear,” the hostility, harassment, the notion that women are incapable of certain kinds of work, the exclusion, the negative attitudes, all of that, would just magically vanish? If you think so, then you certainly must think women are remarkably stupid for not just applying for a job, since that’s all it would take to dismantle sexism.

    It seems like the idea of thinking about gender and sexism is somewhat new to you–I strongly encourage you to explore this and other feminist blogs to get a fuller sense of what people are saying to you here.

  29. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Also, I can’t be in the minority of people that have walked past construction sites and been completely torn apart because I look hot in a short skirt. I’m not saying it happens at all construction sites ever, but it has happened significantly more than once to me. I would NEVER apply for a job at a construction site.

    My brother is an electrician and says he does the same thing to women at his sites. My mom worked in a factory and was never sponsored for certifications, but my dad was. Blah blah, I’m going to get shit for resorting to anecdotal evidence, but I honestly can’t think of a single woman who took a blue collar job without getting shit for it (or hitting a fictitious ceiling like my mom did — who is now in a pink collar job).

    • February 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Dear Brandon,

      CONGRATULATIONS! You have successfully passed Derailing 101!

      But I do believe that course 201 is taking place at some other blog, so, ahem …

  30. catfood
    February 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I’m high-fiving Brandon for this awesome display of man-centered threadjacking. Excellent, my brother!

  31. Roy
    February 9, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Fear is what holds people back.

    Fear is sometimes what holds people back. Other times, it’s a boss who can’t see a good worker past the fact that it’s “she” and not “he”. Other times it’s the open hostility that makes a person feel unsafe and unwelcome. Other times it’s the passive aggressive abuse and malicious comments of co-workers. I’m not sure I see the value in pretending that other people’s lived experiences aren’t real and valid. Chalking it up to “well, it’d be different if people would just stop being afraid” is silly and dismissive.

    The same things happen to men when they try and enter “woman dominated” industries (teaching, nursing, social work).

    It’s certainly possible that it happens, but nowhere near to the same degree. In the majority of cases, men who enter woman dominated industries end up being positions of leadership. In some cases they’re treated with some apprehension, but men who work in fields dominated by women rarely face the kinds of open hostility and discrimination that women entering male dominated fields do. Men do not, on average, face the same sorts of sexual harassment, nor do they make less money within field than their female counterparts. They, in fact, tend to make more.
    And, anecdotally, as someone who is actually working in a field dominated by women, I’d like to point out that I’ve never once noticed people treating me with hostility because I was a man, and that there are proportionally more men in leadership positions than women within my organization.

    I used to work for a non-profit company and there were 30 women and 2 men. Sometimes it was intimidating because I saw certain things differently than they did.

    There is a huge difference between “I’m intimidated because I’m one of the few people like me in this situation and it makes me feel weird” and “I’m intimidated because I’m being treated with hostility and disdain, and my co-workers/boss/customers are harassing me/mocking me/threatening me.”

  32. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    @Faith and Chipchop:

    The only way to break the exclusion and negative attitudes is to plow yourself forward and do a good job when you get hired. Nothing ever magically vanishes. It takes time.

    Also, it takes practically no effort to apply to a lot of jobs. Especially, when it’s on line. Sign in, add resume, find job, click “Apply!”. I don’t see how that has to be as difficult as you make it seem. Even if you don’t get an interview, applying has got to be the easiest part of looking for a job.

    I have been harassed (by a few gay men), discriminated against and people have been hostile with me. To me, that’s there problem not mine. It’s not really worth worrying over.

    My idea of gender and sexism? Ya, there are men, women, transgender, etc… and sexism is the belief of one gender is superior to the other. Ya…I think I got it. I don’t really need to think about it…they are simple definitions. Pretty easy to grasp.

  33. leedevious
    February 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Oh puhhlease. My college is about 3/4 dudes. If Burlington is called Girlington, then my college town must be called Dickville.

    As a matter of fact, I’m sitting in the student union, and I see no other females, only about 50 guys.

  34. P.T. Smith
    February 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm


    You can’t just subscribe things to fear without looking at why that fear exists, and how reasonable that fear is.

    Comparing the “fear” we have been discussing to the “fear” that men feel going into teaching, nursing, or social work isn’t legitimate. The problems are much, much greater entering, as is the percentages. In fact, I don’t even know what you are talking about with teaching and social work being “women dominated.” There may be more women there, but not in real numbers, and not in numbers that have had the slightest affect on any of the many guys I know in both. It’s something I haven’t even considered at all when thinking about teaching.

  35. leedevious
    February 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    HOLD THE PHONE PEOPLE. BRANDON HAS BEEN HARASSED BY A COUPLE OF GAY MEN. He knows what it’s like to be a lady these days.

  36. js
    February 9, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I love that the article states that when women outnumber men in college, then men have the social upper hand. Because of course, women had much more social power before they could attend college.

  37. Jay@racialicious
    February 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    My idea of gender and sexism? Ya, there are men, women, transgender, etc… and sexism is the belief of one gender is superior to the other. Ya…I think I got it. I don’t really need to think about it…they are simple definitions. Pretty easy to grasp.

    And you probably think that racism is about beliefs too. No.

    Did you ever think that it was “natural” or take it for granted that men earn more than women? Do you think it’s “natural” for men to get all the director’s positions in Hollywood or that men are the focus of almost all films and TV shows? If you didn’t think about those, then you didn’t think enough.

    If you think being slapped by a leather glove is the same as being whacked in the head by a metal ball (around the magnitude of difference between the degree of which you’ve been harassed and the average woman has been harassed), well, then I don’t know what to say.

  38. Ed
    February 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Roses, if the media frames the gender disparity as a loss for men, it is because it is adopting a (heretofore) feminist notion that education is justly distributed equally between genders. That generally if a system skews in favor of distributing privileges to one gender over another, then the system has biases that need to be sniffed out and reformed.

    A good test for whether one of your arguments is deployed in good faith is to put the shoe on the other foot. Would feminists be concerned if women had a lower rate of admittance at institutions of higher learning relative to men? That they were not fully participating in the general rise in college education? Or would they chalk up a ‘win’ because more go now than before?

    It’s a little disappointing to see the very people who worried (rightly) over how our young girls were being short-changed 20 years ago subtly alter their perceptions and vocabulary in recent years to meet the new, decidedly off-kilter status quo with silence. The emphasis among those at the AAUW for instance these days is not on parity, but “equal opportunity,” where opportunity is doled out within parameters (which they had the power to change 20 years ago) that now bias strongly in favor of female university matriculation rather than male.

  39. Politicalguineapig
    February 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    *Rolls eyes* If you’re in college to get a date, your priorities are skewed. And who wants to date college guys anyway? The only ones who have time to date are the frat-rats and the jocks. All the decent guys are too busy passing their classes and working part-time. And in the case of the science squad, staying up all night to build alarm clocks so they get up on time the next day. Or they’re building a better mouse.

  40. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    @P.T: To me fear is fear. All we are talking about is the scope of it. Also, I worked with social workers at a few places, it is heavily skewed towards women. At a bare minimum I would say 75% of social workers are women. My last non-profit employer was even higher at 90%.

    Also, whats to say that men don’t feel intimidated in working in a job that has predominately women employed?

    @leedevious: Yes I have, one was actually quite aggressive. He even went so far as to grab my groin…so I broke his nose. I have also been harassed by an ex-girlfriend…and no I didn’t break her nose!

    @jay: I think if you create something of value for others you will be compensated. That is why you have high paid movie actors and actresses and women like Oprah who add a lot of value in this society. Just focusing in on directors is making it too narrow. There are a lot of highly paid actresses that can even out earn directors.

    Also, wasn’t there a finding that men typically work more hours on average (40 for women vs 55 for men)?

  41. leedevious
    February 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Ed, the only problem is that (generally speaking) nothing is keeping men out of college, whereas in the past there were forces keeping women out of college (say 20 years ago).

    There are always dudes jumping at the chance to blame affirmative action, but the purpose of affirmative action is to level the playing field, not fill colleges and workplaces with disproportionately high amounts of minorities and women. At my school, dudes are always complaining because they feel smart men are denied admission to make space for less smart women.

  42. leedevious
    February 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    (Sorry, I just realized there is probably also a racial aspect to this. How many men of color are turned away in order to admit white women? I don’t want to derail, I just want to acknowledge that)

  43. February 9, 2010 at 8:43 pm


    I am an journeyman electrician. I’ve been in the trades for over twenty years. You wanna know why more women aren’t entering the trades?

    Because we’re whores. Or is it dykes? Or dykes and whores. And we’re ugly. Unless we’re not; then we’re husband-shopping! And stealing a man’s job. We’re stupid. Too stupid to go to college, or get a nice job like a real lady. Or too stupid to sell our pussy, ‘cuz that’s how you make the real money. Women can’t do this work. We’re not strong enough. Unless we are, then we’re not real women. And we have no visual-spatial ability. Unless we do, and then there must have been something wrong with us, like maybe our mothers got exposed to too much testosterone when they were pregnant, or something. And we have menstrual periods! And if we earn a man’s wage, won’t we never be able to get a boyfriend?

    Did I leave out any stereotypes?

    Look. I’m calling bullshit on your “but my family doesn’t get any resumes….” It’s common knowledge amongst tradespeople that the nonunion element doesn’t hire women. Women who want to enter the trades do so through a union apprenticeship. Although much has changed since the days when I entered, there is still work to do. The attitudes in the field really have changed. The attitudes in the office, not so much.

    It’s probably worth mentioning that there are structural barriers to trades work that disproportionately impact women—start and stop times for work conflicting with available child care being one of the more pertinent ones, because one true stereotype about women in the trades is….most of us are single mothers.

    If you actually want to learn, instead of doing some “mansplaining”, read these books:
    “We’ll Call You If We Need You” by Susan Eisenberg
    “Sisters in the Brotherhoods” by Jane LaTour
    “Hard Hatted Women” by Molly Martin
    “Manhandled: Black Females” by Victoria King
    “Live Wire” by Francine Moccio
    “Blue Collar Women at Work with Men” by Jeannie Ahearn Greene
    “Alone in a Crowd” by Jean Reith Schroedel

  44. Roy
    February 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Men and women are both attending college in greater numbers than ever before, which is a good thing. The drop-out rate of men isn’t a good thing, but without more comprehensive studies that are aimed at actually looking at what is happening, and not just at making good headlines, it’s hard to know what the problem here is. Are men dropping out to take jobs (something that several of my male classmates did during their last two years), or are they dropping out to slum around Florida (something my high school class president did)? Are men attending college in lesser numbers because many of them are going straight into the workforce? Or are some of them attending schools that simply lack accreditation (three of my male friends attended unaccredited schools for computer programing or video game design), and are therefore not counted as having attended higher education by these studies?

    Given that men and women continue to attend college in greater numbers than ever before, and given that men continue to earn more than women within the same fields when they graduate, and given that men are still more likely to attend graduate from grad school, you’ll pardon me if the hand-wringing over the fact that men only make up slightly less than half of (accredited) college students seems a little premature.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being concerned about it, but some honesty in what the situation actually looks like, instead of the fear-mongering tabloid journalism that we’ve been subjected to would be nice.

  45. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    @La Labu: So I am having a reasonable conversation and somehow I am “mansplaining” it?

    First off, did I say anything even remotely close to calling women sluts, whores or whatever other nonsense you are spouting.

    You can “call bullshit” all you like, that doesn’t change the fact that my family owns a construction, landscaping, electrical and plumbing company.

    Why don’t you stop being sexist!

  46. Ismone
    February 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Brandon et. al’s comments also fail to take into account that discrimination against women in non-traditional workplaces tends to get both physically and sexually violent. And most of the time, for the women who *are* picked on, there is a size and strength differential. No one ever went after my two ripped (women) friends in the military, although they did call them stupid dykes behind their backs and, for the most part, weren’t friendly to them. I got more friendship, and more harassment, and threats of physical injury once during an intramural football game, of all things. And you should see what they used to do to the really femmey girls. I was in the middle of the spectrum, and had an older brother on base, to boot.

  47. February 9, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I wish professors and others would worry less about the sex lives of college students, and a lot more about keeping college affordable and improving students’ employment prospects.
    Yes, this!

    I go to a school that’s about 53% men and 47% women, with a lower-than-average percentage involved in Greek life. A frequent complaint is that there’s little to no dating scene, and a lot of hooking up. It’s not because of women outnumbering men…

  48. February 9, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Hmm…I think some people’s responses to Brandon were a bit harsh. I agree with the basics of his idea: Men, in general, are more likely to be interested in/suited for that kind of work.

    However, I also agree with the other side of the story. A great number of women who WOULD do those jobs either don’t apply because it’s simply “not done,” or face a ridiculous amount of harassment and ridicule of they do.

    So, I think that all things being equal, those sorts of jobs would still be, generally-speaking, male dominated. However, without social pressures against women, there would be a great deal MORE women holding those sorts of jobs than there currently are.

    However, I don’t think he was trying to derail the thread. That seems a bit harsh. He was expressing a contrary opinion; one that I don’t think takes everything into account, but I certainly think it has some validity. I do disagree with the idea that “women simply don’t want those sorts of jobs.” Plenty of women certainly do.

  49. February 10, 2010 at 12:17 am

    It pains me to say this…but I entered NYU thirty years ago (in September). Yes, I am that old. But believe me, there was a lot more “hooking up” than “dating” even then. I craved a boyfriend like nobody’s business, got crush after crush after horrible, embarrassing crush that never panned out. The boys “had their pick” then too, and they didn’t have to “settle” for the likes of me. (Also, there were a lot more gay guys in the closet then, and a lot of my crush-objects turned out — as I discovered many years later — not to bat from my side of the plate at all.) Could the dating culture have been a lot different at schools in more rural locations? Maybe. But I don’t think any of this is anything new; in fact, since none of us at NYU ever even heard the initials “HIV” until my sophomore or junior year, if anything there was probably more casual hooking up than there is today, not less.

  50. Bagelsan
    February 10, 2010 at 3:42 am

    How many men of color are turned away in order to admit white women?

    I would hazard… not many? White women are currently “over”represented in colleges and universities so they are the ones feeling the “brunt” of affirmative action, if anyone (Asian women, and maybe men, might beat them.)

    As for women being desperate to date men in college — PULeese! At the women’s college I went to we were all *far* too busy having scantily-clad whipped-cream-covered bicurious pillow/tickle-fights to worry about a lack of men!

    Also, anecdotally but non-snarkily, plenty of the students at my school had boyfriends or at least male friends-with-benefits. My lab mate senior year had about 3, spread across the country — when she went to NYC for a holiday she went with the express purpose of spending the entire week madly screwing one of those guys. I stayed on campus and continued doing research, boy-free. To the best of my knowledge both of us survived. (I will probably die of old-maid-itude sometime this year, of course. And she will die of the sluts, naturally. Very painful. ^^)

    But I really don’t imagine that there are a lot of places where you *can’t* find a man if you care to. And if you don’t find a guy in college, who cares? There’s no rush. It’s not like everyone has to pair off Noah’s Ark style and the leftovers are fed into an abattoir.

  51. Bagelsan
    February 10, 2010 at 3:47 am

    What’s *really* unfair isn’t having a slight sex-imbalance: it’s really unfair not being allowed to marry the person you fall in love with in college. A friend of mine was planning on getting married straight out of college, just like the conservatives like, except then California had to go and change the laws on her, cutting off her plans. Bastards.

  52. leedevious
    February 10, 2010 at 10:38 am

    For any intelligent lady looking to get their MRS, I would recommend going to a science and engineering school like mine. Plenty of lonely dudes that are someday going to make A LOT of money.

    Unfortunately being a science major instead of engineering, I have to go to school longer for not as much money in the long run. =[

  53. February 10, 2010 at 10:44 am

    “Oh puhhlease. My college is about 3/4 dudes. If Burlington is called Girlington, then my college town must be called Dickville.”
    So, how do those guys cope with the shame of not finding dates and having to play by the womens’ rules? ;)

  54. Kaija
    February 10, 2010 at 11:03 am

    For a good depiction of what women have to put up with to enter the “male trades”, see the movie “North Country”, which is the true story of a woman who dared to apply for and take a job as a minor in northern Minnesota. She put up with the horrible treatment that was intended to drive her out because she desperately needed the income and there were no other similarly paying jobs available. Summary: the “fear” is not unfounded.

  55. P.T. Smith
    February 10, 2010 at 11:27 am


    Your comments both highly amuse me and make a point. I am in a better mood than I was minutes ago.

    Also, I no longer fear the dread abattoir.

  56. Enrique Perez
    February 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I go to UNC and, despite the comments made by certain girls at a bar (of tend to only be inside jokes, not real angushing feeling), the administration has made it very clear – both in the article and in the provost response – that UNC is, and has always been a female centered school and we take great pride in the achievement of our female students.

    Like our director of admissions Stephen M. Farmer: “…the university feels obligated to admit the most qualified applicants, regardless of gender, Mr. Farmer said. ‘I wouldn’t want any young woman here to think that there’s somebody we’d rather have here than her,’ he said.”

  57. February 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I will probably die of old-maid-itude sometime this year, of course. And she will die of the sluts, naturally. Very painful.

    I… I think I love you Bagelsan.

    Also, is it possible to die of both old-maid-itude and the sluts? Cuz I think that’s how I want to go out.

  58. February 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    It was this phrase in the article I found so infuriating:

    Women on gender-imbalanced campuses are paying a social price for success and, to a degree, are being victimized by men precisely because they have outperformed them, Professor Campbell said.

    When were the halcyon days to which Campbell by implication refers, when the campuses were all gender-balanced? (Clearly, a 55F-45M split does not constitute balanced.) Has there ever been a sustained, multi-generational period of gender-balance across higher education at a closer ratio than 55-45? Of course not.

    And the notion that success leads to victimization is part of the oldest anti-feminist narrative in the book. Certainly, sexual politics are changing on campuses nationwide, though as the comments here indicate, not as fast as folks imagine. I was at Cal in the mid-80s, when we had a university wide slight majority of men, and the hooking-up culture was alive and well.

    Men do not need to be in a minority to be predatory — and similarly, being in a majority is no guarantor of gentlemanliness. Just ask the female cadets at the Air Force Academy.

  59. Amy
    February 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    It’s just like back in the day when college student bodies were overwhelmingly male and men were victimized because they couldn’t get any dates and women had all the power in relationships. Only the other way around. Clearly women would be much happier if colleges would just shut us out so we could stay home, take low-paying jobs (so as not to make more money than our husbands, which according to last week’s nytimes is another source of our victimization) and, you know, have lots of dates. With men who treat us really well because there’s no competition for their attention. Or something.

  60. james
    February 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    …20 years ago, feminists were fighting tooth and nail to get into college and women have gained parity (if not more) in college attendance.

    “…the only problem is that (generally speaking) nothing is keeping men out of college, whereas in the past there were forces keeping women out of college (say 20 years ago).”

    This is a myth.

    I don’t think a lot of people on this thread have that strong a grasp of the history of higher education in the US. 20 years ago (1990) women were the majority, getting 53.2% of all bachelors degrees. 30 years ago (1980) women were getting 49%. Men had the same advantage women had now – a 57% majority – if you go back 40 years (1970).

    Think about it. The last point at which men had the same dominance that women had now was 40 years ago, and to skew the numbers that severely the government had to give men a choice of Option A: College, Option B: Vietnam. Puts a bit of perspective on the complaints of women being currently forced into college by the horrors of manual labor and the trades. Of course, if you go further back men did dominate in the 40s, 50s and 60s – and I do mean dominate 76% in 1946 – largely as as consequence of being funded through by GI Bills after conscription.

    I’m just trying to stress that women have been dominant in higher education for a lot longer than most of you seem to think, and the reason for men’s advantage before that was due to crazy levels of militarisation they may not have on the whole benefited from. The practical effects: women have been dominant for everyone under 30, broadly equal for people under 50, men have had dominance due to the draft for those 60+. There hasn’t been some recent feminist breakthrough in the last 15 years or so as a lot of you appear to think. Sobering stuff.

  61. February 10, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    @Wednesday: MIT is a bad example – it’s 50/50. Even Caltech is working on trying to get to an even gender ratio – as admissions is fond of reminding us, my class (entered 2009) is 42% women. (Note: this varies quite a bit by class – this year’s senior class is less than 30% women.)

    But, yeah, engineering schools! We exist! I mean, look at the Colorado School of Mines, RPI, Georgia Tech…

    (I will admit dating at Caltech is somewhat odd, but I have a feeling that’s due to the size of the campus (<1,000 undergrads) and the house system making it feel even smaller than that.)

  62. leedevious
    February 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    @james. I just kinda pulled the number 20 out of my ass because it was already used several times in the thread. I thought about it for a second, but since I was in between classes I just went with it.

    But if you replace the number 20 with 30, the point still stands.

  63. Kristin
    February 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Huh. I graduated from UNC not *that* long ago. I had a male-dominated major (Political Science) and a female-dominated major (English). We were at about 60% then, and yeah… I do remember hearing the odd joke about the dearth of single straight men (As one of the most progressive towns in the state, Chapel Hill was one of the safer communities for queer people in NC, I think.). But most people were kind of there to get the degree and move on, not find a husband. The NYT is kind of overstating things, I think…

  64. leedevious
    February 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    @ Avendya. Wooooo RPI. We are female-ly challenged.

  65. Rebecca
    February 10, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Do they think that when there were many more men than women in colleges and universities that men had to compete on women’s terms? No, of course not. This is just another way of blaming women for a problem which (if it exists) is actually just that men have power and control, period. Not men have power and control because they are slightly in the minority. How could that even make sense? This is all just a way to say, I agree with this post.

  66. Quill
    February 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    @Avendya, leedevious: Yay RPI! Well…ish….I am also at that science/engineering school that is 3/4 male. The rest of this rant describes the gendered environment I’ve seen at that male-dominated school, and the issues I’ve had. This is slightly off-topic and your mileage may vary.

    I absolutely think we’re lacking in women for valid reasons: namely, a lot of RPI guys are real asshats about gender. The school newspapers refer to RIBS as a real thing that happens – “Ratio-Induced Bitch Syndrome.” This means that so long as I’m an RPI student, the abundance of men means I’ll be a nasty, frigid, seductive, evil, slutty, manipulative bitch and guys will just have to put up with it. Women who suddenly enter male-dominated spaces are totally horrible to men, don’t you know? And the only reason anybody would want more women in male-dominated spaces is for the benefit of straight mens’ sex lives, as insinuated by the Vice President for Admissions at the Accepted Students’ Day in 2008.

    Furthermore, nearly every extracurricular event has way more dudes than women, and same thing goes for dorms and classes. This being RPI, women get asked out extremely frequently. I have politely rejected significantly more guys than I’ve dated in my year-and-a-half here. And when women are dating non-RPI guys or dating too often? The slut-shaming that goes on here is kind of an issue. Casual misogyny and describing any aggressive or powerful woman as a “bitch” is totally normal here (see: Adelle DeWitt from Dollhouse). Was anybody else on campus Valentine’s Day 2009, when posters describing the date as “RIBS Day” and slamming female RPI students for being “bitches” were all over the academic side of campus? No disciplinary action was taken over that insofar as I know, and the vast majority of (male RPI student) observers considered the mess hi-fucking-larious. Further, I was involved in sexual harassment situations last semester and the semester before, during which *absurd* amounts of victim-blaming by male “friends” happened. (Yeah, I was totally “asking for” him to follow me around and make me uncomfortable…) Is anybody else familiar with the fact that some of the frats have reputations for being “the date rape frats?” I’m not really involved in the party scene, so while I’ve heard some scary rumors about the fraternities I have no clue how true they are.

    And our school is all *confused* about why it has a crap-tastic time attracting women and a failsauce female retention rate. Maybe, just maybe, it has to do with the degree to which the school acts completely permissive towards people who behave in misogynistic ways.

  67. leedevious
    February 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm


    So true. A lot of the dudes here are really bitter and hate girls, I think they would be happier if it were an all-male establishment like in the 70s. I’ve been accused of having RIBS (ratio-induced bitch syndrome) many times. And guys are always knocking the girls here for being ugly. I’ve looked around and the girls here look like the girls at every other campus, there are just less of them. The guys are the ones that aren’t no prize. (not that I haven’t met some really nice date-able guys) It just seems like most dudes are /b/tards. At the last party I went to, we played the 4-chan drinking game.

    I think I know which frat you’re talking about too. If you’re at RPI, have you heard of the creepy kid all the girls are kinda scared of? (personally I think he’s asbergers, but he’s been known to facebook-stalk girls.)

    AND OMG. When I was in the housing lottery at the end of freshman year, we ran out of women’s housing in the 300s. My number was in the 600’s so it’s needless to say that I didn’t get on-campus housing sophomore year.

  68. Lizzie
    February 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Hooking up culture was rife at my top-5 university when my dad was there and that was the 60’s. There were virtually no women. The college boys hooked up with townies or girls from the local highschool. It was a LOT LESS RIFE when I went to the same university in the early 00’s to a roughly 50/50 gender balance. One word: Aids.

    I think this article is just another example of whiny, spoiled Baby Boomers who in the last 10 years suddenly got wealthy enough to embrace fiscal conservatism, got mixed up in its social counterpart, and are therefore spending their late middle age desperately disowning either the feminism (or general social activism), sluttiness, or both, that formed the core of their defining years.

  69. Lizzie
    February 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Sorry just to be clear, I meant the article is written for those people, not necessarily by one. I don’t know anything about Alex Williams’ age or personal politics.

  70. Wednesday
    February 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    @Avendya – I keep forgetting MIT’s got parity, because my friends who went there are all in male-heavy disciplines.

    Your frosh class’s ratio is also good news, but as someone who was at ‘Tech when we dropped from reliably in the 30’s (my class was 36%, a record at the time) to 25%, I’m crossing my fingers more than celebrating. With such a small undergrad population, all it takes is one disgruntled* grad student publishing an article about how the North Hovses have urinals in the women’s restrooms to see an appreciable drop. (I’m just glad she didn’t know about the unisex bathrooms in the South Hovses. OH THE HORRORS.)

    *To be fair, she was _entirely_ right to be angry about how she was personally being treated, in her lab and department. But grad student life at Tech is very different than undergrad, and she got outraged on our account because of some fairly trivial and/or outdated things. She also completely missed some genuine issues like the anti-dress-code for women that was part of the student culture at the time.

  71. Lizzie
    February 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Avendya – that is amazing to me that MIT has parity. What does anyone want to bet that in 35 years when the current graduating class from that very college are head tech people and CEOs of all the big manufacturing and industrial companies like BAE and BP, that parity won’t have survived?

  72. Mon
    February 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    “eerily” like women’s colleges? What’s so eerie about women’s colleges? That makes it sound like there’s something spooky and halloweeny going on at college campuses all over the place. Men are disappearing! Women are obviously at fault!

    Re: the whole men doing “women’s work” vs. women doing “men’s work” : OBVIOUSLY huge difference! Anyone who says otherwise is… well, wearing blinders. Maybe anecdotal evidence is inadmissible here, but I have some.

    First, my dad runs a law office in which he employs one other lawyer and three paralegals. He used to call them his legal secretaries until he hired Gary, who made a huge fuss about how calling him a secretary made him sound like a ‘chick,’ which was clearly unacceptable.

    Second, when I was in high school I dated a guy whose family owned a hardware store with a lumber yard and a house painting company. Women were not allowed to work in the yard, because “there was too much heavy lifting.” Forget that my boyfriend at the time was a skinny high schooler and his sister was a strong athlete who could bench more than him, he was given a job in the yard while his sister worked inside like a lady. At the painting business my boyfriend’s boy cousin painted houses while his girl cousin learned how to do the books.

    Oh, and I’m from California. I know our reputation as the most liberal/forward state has been somewhat tarnished with the whole prop 8 thing, but still. Even in California, when you are talking blue collar you are talking christian, republican, and misogynistic. That’s just how it is, and I’d guess that’s how it is everywhere in the US.

    Re: Men are the norm. Yeah, they are. Someone said that men are not the norm for women who are 18-22, but I am 23 and for me they are. Just look at big business. How many women are at the top? Not a whole lot. More anecdotal evidence: I teach English in big offices in Germany, in companies like Bosch, Mercedes, and IBM. Often the company only pays for the top of the management pyramid to get English classes. When see a classroom with 50% men and 50% women, all in suits and I think, wow, this must be a really progressive company! So far that’s happened once, and a few minutes into the lesson I learned that the company had decided to teach the receptionists English too.

    The other day I told this riddle in my class: A man and his son are driving on a dark and icy road when the car spins out of control and hits a tree. The man is instantly killed and the boy is rushed to the nearest hospital. Upon seeing who is on the table, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate on this boy, he is my son.” How is this possible if the father is dead?

    Nobody got it. 12 people, and I had to give the answer. So yeah, men are the norm, men are expected in certain jobs, and yeah, it’s hard to break the system down, and blaming WOMEN for not trying to because of “fear” is OBVIOUSLY IDIOTIC. Women ARE trying to break this system down. That’s why we have come this far. But we can’t go all the way if men don’t also try.

  73. CaliOak
    February 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Bwahaha…college age men have all the power over the opposite sex because of limited supply?
    Sorry to revamp stereotypes, but how many hetero single college age men are turning down tons of willing sexual partners? And how many people at these bigname schools, don’t move away to live elsewhere? What is so wrong with finding a mate after the ripe old age of 23?
    These geniuses should look at the numbers for people over 65.

  74. leedevious
    February 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

    @ wednesday, At RPI, in some of the older building you can see where the urinals were ripped out in the women’s bathrooms. They even still say “MEN” on the door, with “WOMEN” taped over it. Also, in some buildings, it’s almost impossible to find the women’s bathroom, and is usually tucked into an odd corridor. As a result, there are half as many bathrooms as there should be in those particular buildings.

  75. Wednesday
    February 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    @ leedevious – okay, _that_ is an example where former-urinals in bathrooms is an issue, because of the attitude towards women that it conveys. They couldn’t even be bothered to get proper signs? Or reasonable locations? Gah.

    The situation at Caltech I mentioned was nothing like that – it was simply that in some of the dorms (the North Houses I mentioned), all the bathrooms have urinals, and the ones that are mens’ and womens’ switch based on how many of each are living in specific hallway that year. Sometimes women would put putted plants in the urinals. :)

    In academic buildings (at least, the ones where I had classes) it wasn’t hard to find restrooms for either sex, although the entire campus had some fairly serious issues with accessibility.

  76. Jay@racialicious
    February 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm


    I never went to RPI, but I knew some people who did… and I hear the same stories. It is a rather bitter and entitled sentiment but I think as long as the reinforcement continues there’s going to be no change.

    None of the engineering schools in Canada have that lopsided a ratio – Waterloo has one of the worst and it’s still only 45-55 F-M. But because the engineering classes are also tight-knit (because there are very few electives, people take pretty much the same classes together.) the ratio within engineering (which is quite lopsided) tends to be noticed. I personally didn’t notice a giant entitlement/bitter attitude but I could be missing something.

  77. Sarah
    February 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    What pisses me off most is the whole “women who hook up in college are victimized by men because they’re really just looking for love” thing. I mean, hello, maybe they’re hooking up because they’re in COLLEGE? As in, they’re horny, curious, and they’re finally in a cosmopolitan environment where they’re encouraged to experiment sexually, as opposed to their shitty little high school where they were a slut if they slept with one guy?

  78. February 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    @Wednesday: Yay, another Techer on Feministe! What house were you in?

    Fair point re. MIT – there is also a fair amount of disgruntlement among male MIT students about how much easier it is to get in if you’re female (and of course this just means that women aren’t qualified, not that women self-select more than men in science). Tech has some of the same issues re. more women in biology, and less in math. I would like to see numbers across universities for % of women in physics – I’m not sure it varies that much, regardless of the university’s overall ratio. (Obviously, this is excluding women’s colleges.)

    EA admissions for the class of 2014 were 43% female (– for those of you who didn’t go to Tech, yes, we do actually sit down and talk about the gender ratio). However, until RD admissions are done, and people actually decide if they want to come to Tech, it’s all speculation.

    I’ve had fewer problems with misogyny at my male-dominated university than my high school (which was 50/50), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems. The math department is famously unfriendly to women, and we have a grand total of two female physics professors, one of which is a new hire (faculty listing. I also go out of my way to avoid places where I think I’ll encounter a great deal of misogyny – I don’t hang out in some of the houses because of it. (Apache was last night. Enough said.)

    At the moment, Dabney – my house – has relatively few really, really misogynist guys (although they exist – I am fairly sure one guy I know of has done things I consider at best dubious consent, and the whole clothing optional thing makes more women uncomfortable than men). However, I’ve met enough Darb alums to be unsure if I would have felt equally comfortable in Dabney five or six years ago. There was also the Blacker anon meme (now thankfully dead), where there were rape threats, and the bitter guys who talk about how all Tech girls are ugly, etc., etc. Overall, I’ve felt relatively welcome at Tech, but enough of my friends have had very different experiences that I am unwilling to say Tech is friendly towards women.

    @Quill and leedevious: that sounds extremely unpleasant. Any chance I could have permission to quote your comments when my (male) friends try to insist science and engineering aren’t sexist?

  79. Sheelzebub
    February 17, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Brandon, instead of flying off the handle, why not actually READ what LaLubu wrote? She didn’t accuse YOU of saying those things, she said those were the attitudes and perceptions women in the trades encounter.

    And wonderful! Your family owns a construction, landscaping, electrical, and plumbing company. She works in the trades, as a woman, and is explaining to you what her experience was. And guess what? A woman worker’s experience is going to be vastly different from that of an owner.

    You’ve been mansplaining because you’ve wagged your finger at us and told us How It Should Be Done when you’ve never worked in the trades as a woman. She has. Upon reading her comment, you could have taken a deep breath, gotten over your obvious defensiveness, and actually listened to what she had to say. That you don’t even bother to address the points she made but instead chose to put words in her mouth and go off on a tear tells me you aren’t arguing in good faith.

  80. BadSarah
    February 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I’m in math and I’ve had an easy time despite the ratio. I can’t recall one experience that I could remotely characterize as sexism.

    Then again, I’m not very good (i.e. not Rhodes Scholar good) and so I don’t have the experience that some women do, of being absolutely frickin’ brilliant but not treated as such. I have met women in math who claim to have experienced sexism, and they tend to fall into that category. I suppose if they say it, it’s true.

    I’m kind of resentful of “oh there’s sexism in science,” though. My instinct is “If you were just better at being one of the boys, you wouldn’t experience any.” I’m not sure why the allegation makes me so hostile — maybe it’s because one of the things I like about science is that there isn’t a lot of tiptoeing over feelings, and I don’t want a lot of forced sensitivity being brought into the community. A lot of us are pretty much social savages, myself included. Just leave us alone, let us work, and let us be brutes sometimes!

  81. Nikki
    March 3, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Just to offer many examples of a woman (me) who was shunned out of characteristically masculine job positions. I was not given a position at an internship with the Ministry of Parks in my region (a job wherein I had to keep campsites and parks clean and clear streams of waste etc.) because I “was lacking some requirement that would likely keep me from being able to complete the tasks required for the job”. I am and was at the time 5’10” and muscular (even for a guy). All those picked for the position were lanky teenage boys (two of which I saw skipping work to smoke weed in a car).
    Recently I tried to get a job at Sportchek as a shipper/receiver part-time (the pre-requisites being that I can lift 50 pounds and follow a checklist). The woman told me during my interview that upon receiving my resume (and seeing my “girly” name) they’d assumed that I actually wanted to be a cashier instead. I told them otherwise but they assured me that I should be better off interviewing for the cashiers job because they had “already (had) a few people in line” for said position. I saw an ad for the exact position at the exact store back on the original website I found it on about a week and a half later.
    I was only hired at one pizza place (Toppers) after being assured that they “were looking for someone who was good with customers” and would “smile” and be open socially with them (i.e. they wanted someone to stand at the counter and look pretty). At least it turned out that way.
    A friend of mine who worked with a construction company a few years ago (probably their only woman ever) left after 2 months because men made “innocent jokes” at her expense, (hitting on her/harassing her in sexually explicit ways including painting nipples and a vagina on her work suit and making hand signs for grabbing at her breasts). When she brought it up with authorities there (after a man made a comment about her ass on site and then tried to force her to hug him in front of several other workers who did nothing when it was obvious she was trying to get away), they got annoyed with her and told her that she was “making a scene” about a man who “got a little too excited” and acted outside of his normal behaviour. They forced the man to apologize to her in front of everyone, thus making it worse by causing all the other guys to demonize her for being the girl who couldn’t take a joke. She stayed about a week longer before she couldn’t take it anymore and left the job.
    I have had seven interviews with various construction companies who were hiring which all ended in my being told (at times during the interview) that they did not require my services (“Sorry, we like you but…you’re not a match for what we’re looking for, we’re not hiring anyone for our office positions, we can’t risk any injuries on our job and you simply have too little experience (I wonder why), you’re a little young (I’m not), we need a focussed workplace and these guys aren’t equipped for distractions you may present (a woman told me this along with the whole “you’re not as experienced as we like” schpeal). One man admitted to me that he was prepared to tell me I wasn’t physically able to complete the job before he even saw me. He ended up hiring me for a summer to relieve a full time worker who went on holiday and he admitted that I did a better job because I was more careful about how perfect things were completed (measure twice, cut once crap) and that I worked harder and faster than most of the other workers (men) there (even though he paid me less).

Comments are closed.