Accessibility links

Breaking News

Reaction Is Split as More Women, Fewer Men, Go to College

This is Shep O'Neal with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Recently we had two reports about concerns over the progress of boys in the American education system. Some people say there is a crisis for boys. Others say there are problems for some boys. But they say the situation is not so much that boys are falling behind as that girls are catching up with boys.

Today we examine changes that have taken place at the college level. Here there are similar issues. Some people are worried about the situation for men while others praise areas of progress for women.

In nineteen seventy, women represented forty-two percent of college students in the United States. Now they are about fifty-six percent.

A recent report called “The Truth About Boys and Girls" included this information -- but not as evidence of a crisis. Sara Mead, a policy analyst at the research group Education Sector, wrote the report. She sees the situation this way:

Yes, men are earning fewer four-year college degrees than women. But men are still earning more degrees than they have in the past, only at a slower growth rate than women.

And, yes, more women than men are also earning master's degrees. But men still earn more doctorates. These are the degrees needed to become a doctor or a lawyer or a professor. In addition, men hold more positions of power and earn more money on average than women do.

There are many theories why males and females perform differently in their schooling. Some are based on recent brain research, but others center on environment. Some people say boys now face a hostile environment in American education.

Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote the book "The War Against Boys." She says the lower percentage of men in college points to a serious problem in the education of American boys.

So how many Americans go to college? The Census Bureau reports that in nineteen seventy-five, eighteen percent of men in the United States had a four-year degree. That compared to eleven percent of women. By two thousand, the numbers were twenty-eight percent of men and twenty-four percent of women.

The Census Bureau says that each year since nineteen eighty-two, more women than men have earned a four-year degree.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Brianna Blake. You can find our earlier reports on this subject at This is Shep O'Neal.