By Professor Doom
“Theese eeese pure eediocy!”
--a German professor’s response at a faculty meeting regarding accreditation recommendations to put an outreach program to attract female STEM students inside of an outreach program to attract female STEM students. The previous sentence is typed as intended.
It’s no secret that females are being courted aggressively in higher education, and I’ve listened to many a (female) administrator bloviate about how females are under-represented in higher education, how yet another program is to be established to attract females, as part of the institution’s mission to make education available to all, regardless of gender.
Despite the stated good intentions regarding gender equality, I suspect administrative motives.
I don’t waste time trying to explain to admin that giving bonuses to one gender over another is actually a violation of principles…there are far better reasons to lose one’s job than simply pointing out an everyday-type hypocrisy in higher education.
Anyway, I imagine the following headline caused an administrator or two to pump her fist in the air in victory:
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but…are we sure this is a good thing? One might reason that if more females are getting degrees, more females are going to college, and statistics verify intuition here.
Now we have a problem. I’ve documented quite well in this blog what higher education is nowadays, and, again, the data makes it pretty clear that most people that go to college to get degrees are victimized by the experience. Most students drop out without getting a degree, after all, so that headline could just as easily read: “A bigger share of American women than men are victims of college.”
“…the percentage of male students on campus has plunged from 100 percent in 1917 (when it was an all-male institution) to an estimated 41 percent for the graduating class of 2015...”
What happened to make the most common victim of our current higher education system a female, as opposed to male?
As is often the case, I can’t help but compare the Poo Bahs that run higher education to tobacco company executives, and, again, the comparison seems valid, as I’ll explain.
First, a bit of history. In the 19th century, most smokers were male. At this point in time, most people that died of lung cancer also were male—other than noting miners seemed to get it more often, there wasn’t much of a connection to smoking until much later (but cigarettes of this era were far less processed than the cigarettes of today, which are deliberately crafted to become more addictive). Females were, socially, discouraged from smoking in this era, and even as late as 1908 a female was arrested in New York for smoking in public.
As the years progressed, lung cancer became “equal opportunity” and now females get lung cancer at rates very comparable to males. I bet the gentle reader can guess what else increased to parity with males, but allow me to be clear: female smokers.
What happened to increase female smokers? Well, smoking is a business, and it’s just good business to seek new markets. So, a century or so ago, big tobacco hired marketing experts to make smoking attractive to females.
However, it is questionable whether smoking would have become as popular among women as it did if tobacco companies had not seized on this opportunity in the 1920s and 1930s to exploit ideas of liberation, power, and other important values for women…
Yes, tobacco executives also promoted cigarette smoking to females as a way to increase their sexual attractiveness (hard to believe, in retrospect), but note the targeting of “liberation, power and other important values for women.”
I’ve often compared our Poo Bahs in higher education to tobacco executives, although in the past those comparisons are mostly how both seem to target the young and vulnerable, and take advantage of the innocence of our young to trap them into lifetimes of cigarette addiction or student loan debt.
Allow me to make that comparison even stronger, by noting that, much as tobacco executives ruthlessly exploited women’s desires to trap them into cigarette addiction, higher education administrators suckered females into college loan debt, by promoting how “education can increase independence” and such. Could it be that women are getting extra encouragement to go to college?
It takes little effort to find many, many scholarships that are targeted strictly for women; while I’m sure there are such for men, they sure don’t see to get advertised much.
Now, this is just basic business, much as a drug dealer gives the first dose for free to “just try it and see if you like it,” higher education gives females scholarships to “get their foot in the door.” One might think that this means females end up with less debt than males, but all the extra scholarships don’t seem to help:
AAUW's findings tell us that women are disproportionately likely to take out loans; among 2007-2008 graduates, 68 percent of women borrowed money for college compared to 63 percent of men.
So, much like tobacco companies created the “smoking culture” of the US military by giving free cigarettes to soldiers during WW2, creating a bunch of addicts once the war ended, our “leaders” in higher education have suckered females into the student debt trap, indebting them forever despite the scholarships. Once again, the questionable tactics of our tobacco company executives far too aptly compare to our self-appointed elite “leaders” in higher education.
There’s a sinister side effect to the gender bias of higher education, however. It’s a trivial matter to look around in higher education and see signs that women are welcome, and men…not so much. Should I even bother to mention how a male might find Women’s Studies type courses a bit intimidating? What of all the anti-male “take back the night” festivities? I digress, but it’s curious nobody speaks of the many macro-aggressions against males on campus.
So, is it a good thing that women now have more degrees than men? Only if a college degree is really worthwhile, and, bottom line, we’re finally starting to question if education, particularly as education is defined today, is worth today’s extremely high prices. Seeing as higher education is now creating prostitutes to get degrees, and prostitutes after the females get the degrees, I’m pretty hard pressed to believe so.
Next time around I’ll look some more general answers to the question of whether the people going to college even think it’s worth it.