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March 12, 2012

Men As Helpless Victims

Following up on the theme of the Right embracing the Left's victim narrative, Glenn Reynolds cites "Education's Gender Gap":

In every other academic realm, the existence of a statistical disparity — such as the fact that fewer men than women pursue advanced degrees in certain science and technology fields — is taken as definitive proof of gender discrimination.

For instance, in 2010 the American Association of University Women lamented the “striking disparity between the numbers of men and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” and concluded that “we must take a hard look at the stereotypes and biases that still pervade our culture. Encouraging more girls and women to enter these vital fields will require careful attention to the environment in our classrooms and workplaces and throughout our culture.”

We look forward to a robust debate on how institutions of higher learning can correct the discriminatory circumstances that are leading them to graduate nearly three women for every two men.

Indeed. But don’t expect help on gender equality from a hate group.

Question for the day: why would conservatives be looking for "help on gender equality" at all? Has gender equality ever been something the Right thought worth pursuing?

Traditionally, the conservative position on affirmative action has been that admitting un- or under-prepared students harms both the admitted student and harder working or better prepared students who are effectively told that society doesn't value their achievements. The conservative position on quotas has always been that they proposed legally sanctioned discrimination as the remedy for discrimination that has not actually been proven to have occurred.

We understand the temptation to confront the Left with the ongoing dichtomy between its professed principles and its behavior, but in this case the attempt seems particularly misguided since their intended targets - colleges and universities - are not only talking the talk, but walking the walk as well:

While some news reports indicate that discrimination against women on the basis of sex in college admissions is increasingly common, there has been relatively little public discussion about it—especially compared to the much more heated public debate concerning race-based affirmative action. Not surprisingly, therefore, there have been few attempts to study the extent of the problem systematically….

Multiple news reports indicate that some colleges and universities, both public and private, have what they regard as “too many” women applicants and are therefore discriminating in favor of men—largely because more women than men apply to college and their academic credentials are in some ways better. Several colleges have more or less openly admitted to discriminating against women – including the University of Richmond (a private institution) and the College of William and Mary (a public institution). Others—including Southwestern University (Texas), Knox College (Illinois), Brandeis University (Massachusetts), Boston University (also Massachusetts), and Pomona College (California)—shy away from admitting directly that they are discriminating, but admit that maintaining an optimal gender balance by non-discriminatory means is difficult….

Sex discrimination in admissions at public universities is illegal under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. But under federal law, it is perfectly legal for private institutions to engage in sex discrimination in admissions—though once both sexes are admitted, neither may be discriminated against….

Perhaps the most attention-getting piece on this topic was a 2006 New York Times op-ed by Jennifer Delahunty Britz, an admissions officer at Kenyon College, in which she admitted that her office often gave preferential treatment to men. Some admissions insiders wrote in response to Delahunty Britz’s piece that these preferences were quite common—what was shocking was only Delahunty Britz’s candor in airing this information publicly. Inside Higher Ed noted that “[w]hile few admissions officers wanted to talk publicly about the column, the private reaction was a mix of ‘of course male applicants get some help’ along with ‘did she have to share that information with the world?’” Several years later, after the wave of chatter over Delahunty Britz’s piece had died down, Columbia University law professor Ted Shaw referred to such discrimination as an “open secret.”

So where are the protests against unfair gender discrimination now? What is the conservative position on gender preferences? Decades ago when women were lagging behind, we argued that merit and achievement were the only rational basis for college admissions.

Do you think colleges should actively discriminate against young women with better academic records in favor of young men with worse ones? And if so, what makes this different from the policies conservatives vehemently opposed when the shoe was on the other foot (so to speak).

Discuss amongst your ownselves.

Posted by Cassandra at March 12, 2012 07:10 AM

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Comments

I'm for segregation of the sexes until marriage.
Does that help?

Posted by: spd rdr at March 12, 2012 10:09 AM

Warning! The following is a generalization, it does not apply to everyone everywhere at all times:

The problem with pointing out hypocrisy on the Left is, for the most part, they don't really care. Because they're more of an "intentions" focused group than an "outcomes" focused one. So to say "you say you want equality, but in reality you don't" doesn't phase them. Because their INTENT was pure. The reason accusations of hypocrisy kind of hurt those on the dexter side of the spectrum, is because we DO actually care about the outcomes of our actions.

And to be clear, I don't think this is a "right/wrong" issue that Conservatives are better people for being more focused on the outcomes than intentions, it just is. Most of the left wing folks I know and associate with are good people (else I would not associate with them). They just are more focused on wanting to help people than on if they actually ARE. It's an emotional vs logical divide. They see Conservatives as mean spirited and cold hearted because "you want poor people to starve!" The best way I have of shutting that down is to say, "You know me. Do you honestly think I want people to starve." "No but..." And the dance continues.

Posted by: MikeD at March 12, 2012 10:46 AM

Mike:

I tend to believe that despite their rhetoric, both the Left and the Right tend to be outcome-oriented. They decide what outcome they want (or don't want), then invoke reason or logic to justify their stance.

As you observed, that's a generalization :p

What interests me here is that we have folks on the right supposedly calling the left on their hypocrisy (because progressives favor affirmative action for women/blacks but not for men)... and yet it turns out that affirmative action *is* being used to remedy the gender disparity.

Now if we genuinely believe AA is wrong and harmful, we should be complaining about it.

I would suggest that attacking imaginary hypocrisy in such a way that highlights one's own actual hypocrisy is ... oh, I don't know... ineffective?

The added fillip of schadenfreude comes with this stunner:

Perhaps the most attention-getting piece on this topic was a 2006 New York Times op-ed by Jennifer Delahunty Britz, an admissions officer at Kenyon College, in which she admitted that her office often gave preferential treatment to men. Some admissions insiders wrote in response to Delahunty Britz’s piece that these preferences were quite common—what was shocking was only Delahunty Britz’s candor in airing this information publicly. Inside Higher Ed noted that “[w]hile few admissions officers wanted to talk publicly about the column, the private reaction was a mix of ‘of course male applicants get some help’ along with ‘did she have to share that information with the world?’”

It would appear that these colleges are ashamed of doing something they maintained was the right thing to do when women were the victims :p

The question remains: are men helpless victims here?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 11:07 AM

Now if we genuinely believe AA is wrong and harmful, we should be complaining about it.

I did once hear someone say that he wished they'd take their twelve steps off an eleven-step pier.

Seriously, not all academic disciplines are equal. Some of them are real disciplines, and some of them are not. Men seem to do fine in the ones that are; I would therefore tend to take the disparity as evidence not of colleges discriminating against men, but of a kind of predatory lending towards women (and some men -- the kind who pursue masters of puppetry arts).

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 12:07 PM

not all academic disciplines are equal. Some of them are real disciplines, and some of them are not. Men seem to do fine in the ones that are; I would therefore tend to take the disparity as evidence not of colleges discriminating against men, but of a kind of predatory lending towards women (and some men -- the kind who pursue masters of puppetry arts).

The "fields where men are doing fine" haven't gone away. Ad yet in an age where not having a degree is an absolute bar to employment in many fields, men are choosing to disqualify themselves.

You are glossing over something you should not: the declining labor force participation of men. Male participation in the labor force has declined at all levels of education, but the rate of decline is the lowest (and markedly so) for holders of college degrees.

Unemployment is far higher for non-degreed workers, and a larger number of non-degreed workers are men nowadays. This is a problem that can't be dismissed by looking down one's nose at certain types of degrees.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 12:38 PM

Manufactured problem "demanding" manufactured solution.

a) If you can't do the work, you will figure that out, quickly. Partial-differential equations and thermodynamics do not CARE what gender, race or creed you are. College as a whole tends to work the same way, if you're studying anything worthwhile. If not, your degree will prove of little value.

b) Denying someone a job ONLY BECAUSE they have no degree is stupid; if you need to know higher math to design something that the public can use, and you HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF IT then YES, you SHOULD be denied that job. On the other hand, supermarket cashiers don't even need a degree (although they do need to be able to count, make change, etc.)

c) I'm confident by now that employers realize which degrees denote thinking skills, mathematical skills, scientific attunement and so forth. If you're an employer and you hire an art major for a technical job, you'll get what you deserve.

d) There is an issue with promising (or leading people to believe) that a college degree is an automatic ticket to a great job. This is now being debunked, due to the persistent high unemployment rates, but those already conned / trapped / obligated to repay exorbitant student loans that do not discharge in bankruptcy have a case.

Posted by: Jim at March 12, 2012 01:26 PM

What no one has addressed here is that there are far fewer unskilled jobs than there used to be. They have largely been replaced by automation/computers.

If your argument is, "Don't worry about men - they can just take unskilled jobs", you have to grapple with two inconvenient facts:

1. Fewer men are working FT/at all.
2. Male wages are declining.

I don't think you can gloss over the fact that the unemployment rate for college grads of either sex is hovering around 4% while for non college grads is 2 to 3 times that, depending on whether you're talking about workers with or without a HS diploma. James Joyner nails this here:

Certainly, some endeavors pay more than others. But the bottom line is that there’s very little unemployment for those who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree. Almost all of the unemployed are those with a high school diploma or less.

The facts simply don't support the narrative I'm seeing from the right. Saying that merely having a college degree doesn't "guarantee" a job is NOT contradicted by the fact that unemployment for college grads is less than half what it is for HS grads.

They're two separate statements. Joyner again:

Let’s stipulate that the earnings figures are skewed by a handful of professions, notably law and medicine, that require a bachelor’s degree plus as a barrier to entry. But even those with no education above a bachelor’s–thus excluding doctors and lawyers–are half as likely to be unemployed and average half again as much salary as those with no education beyond high school.

Most jobs don't demand technical degrees, but increasingly, jobs that used to be considered "unskilled" DO demand technical literacy. The military has seen this in spades: most HS grads simply don't have what it takes to complete the technical training needed to operate today's complex machinery and computers.

This is a real problem. Literacy is another problem, because non-tech jobs require good oral and written communication skills and HS grads can't read and write worth a damn.

I tutored a whole range of subjects whilst putting myself through school and found two issues:

1. HS students are poorly prepared for college level work: so much so that colleges have to dumb down coursework to the extent that in many cases it becomes remedial HS level work.

This is important, because we can no longer assume that HS grads have the same level of education as they did 40 years ago.

2. Students are unwilling to do the work required to master their coursework because no one has ever demanded that they do so.

This alone demonstrates why so many employers demand a college degree: if nothing else, it demonstrates that a student is willing to do the work.

Finally, no one forces kids to take out loans. Financing is a completely separate issue from the question of whether college is necessary/desirable to either workers or employers.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 01:51 PM

Sorry! Click my name for the link referenced above :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 01:53 PM

There is an issue with promising (or leading people to believe) that a college degree is an automatic ticket to a great job. This is now being debunked, due to the persistent high unemployment rates

I don't see this. The unemployment rate for college grads is around 4%. For non college grads, it's 2 to 3 times higher. If I'm a betting woman, I'll take 4% unemployment over 11 or 15% every time.

..., but those already conned / trapped / obligated to repay exorbitant student loans that do not discharge in bankruptcy have a case.

I don't buy the argument that students are conned or trapped into taking student loans.

I was a financial aid officer for 3 years. Students are counseled about debt every time they sign papers. If they don't listen, whose fault is this?

This really seems like more "everyone's a victim" stuff. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Are we really saying that college students can't reasonably be expected to understand the relationship between income and expenses, or that debts need to be repaid?

The thing that's really bizarre here is that most college students are still dependents of their parents (who have to sign their loan applications). Even if we buy the unlikely argument that a student who gets into college has no obligation to read loan documents before signing them, surely we're not going to excuse their parents (who, as I mentioned previously, have to sign their children's loan apps)?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 02:01 PM

Sorry, let me be more clear. I believe that those on the Right whining that there needs to be affirmative action to shore up flagging male enrollment need to shut the hell up. If you are principled, then "well they did it first" is a non-starter. If your mother wouldn't take it as an excuse, I see no reason the rest of us should.

Second, I actually believe that the real disconnect between those on the Left and those on the Right is that they are not talking about the same subject most of the time, even while debating. Case in point, abortion. My friends on the Left seriously see this as the Right trying to control women and their reproduction. Period. You can tell them till you're blue in the face that for the guys on the Right, it has nothing to do with the woman and her reproduction, and everything to do with the fact that you're killing a human baby... they just won't discuss that. Because they CAN'T. The elide right past it, or dismiss it out of hand, and even will bend themselves in knots trying to convince you (and themselves) that a fetus is just a clump of cells, and not a baby. But for them, the "is it really a baby" is a distraction. They honestly don't see that as a legitimate point of debate, they think it's a tactic used by the Right to cover the REAL agenda of controlling women. I swear I'm not making this up! And they're JUST as shocked when I tell them, there are Conservatives out there who actually DO NOT CARE if you choose to use birth control, because it's NOT about controlling women. It's about not killing people! They keep wanting to claim that "well, so and so doesn't want anyone to have birth control..." and I keep telling them the same thing, "yeah, but so and so isn't everyone on the Right."

To be fair, I also have to sometimes explain to my Right wing friends that not everyone on the Left is bound and determined to destroy America (I think their policies generally do harm the country, it's why I'm on the Right side of things), but that's not why they're doing it. They literally just want to help people and for everyone to get along. But they're blind as to the consequences of what they want to do. I'm certainly NOT claiming that everything we on the Right do is free from negative results. We generally have the decency to be ashamed of it. Generally.

And that's what I think bothered you the most about the recent Rush brouhaha, Miss Cass. The lack of shame over something he clearly should not have done (at least initially). And the rush to defend him (pun only intended after typing it out).

Posted by: MikeD at March 12, 2012 03:17 PM

"I don't see this. The unemployment rate for college grads is around 4%. For non college grads, it's 2 to 3 times higher. If I'm a betting woman, I'll take 4% unemployment over 11 or 15% every time."

Whose statistics are these? The problem with most of what is published today is that results are too frequently agenda-driven; if a group of higher ed doctorates finds that higher education DOESN'T pay, will the publish that?

I'm NOT saying that applies here, I'm asking.

"I don't buy the argument that students are conned or trapped into taking student loans."
Thinking skills have been de-emphasized for two generations now; how can "cash for gold" places even open up, if the public understood rational thinking?

[Rest of post above]
Students may think they will beat the system, just like every high school hotshot basketballer or footballer thinks they will make it in the pros. Delusional thinking is not limited to politicians, military or any other type
No, everyone's not a victim; but some are. Let's list a few victims, just for fun:

MF Global depositors
Chrysler / GM bondholders
Madoff investors (arguable)

All these people were defrauded into making choices they would not have with sufficient information; that information was withheld or suppressed, leading to poor choices. IF a college degree in underwater basket-weaving is essentially useless, should that information be provided?

"I was a financial aid officer for 3 years. Students are counseled about debt every time they sign papers. If they don't listen, whose fault is this?"
Did you ever tell a student that their chosen major was useless? Did you never counsel a student who was pursuing an essentially useless career that he was?
(Should colleges be held to truth in employment prospects? How many jobs in "early Romance languages" are there, really? How many "------ - American Cultures" or "------ Studies" positions are available?)

"Are we really saying that college students can't reasonably be expected to understand the relationship between income and expenses, or that debts need to be repaid?"
Sometimes, yes; how many college students are going there ON THEIR OWN MONEY, that THEY EARNED?
Until you've lived on your own, liable to homelessness if failed, I'm not sure it's real. Also, the current trend of NOT PUNISHING FAILURE with real consequences is distorting views of reality; if John Corzine can "lose" $1.2 billion and not even get arrested, why should Johnnie or Joanie worry about paying it back?

Parents are also subject to delusional thinking, sorry. MY little Johnnie or Joanie will behave properly, pay it back, or not goof off. My daughter is working on her B.A. in English, itself mildly delusional; she is currently not considering going to grad school, on the theory that paper publishing itself will soon become obsolete, so there won't be any need to have an advanced degree to get a good job in English. One of her faculty apparently told her this, so I have a hard time arguing her out of it; I see her competing with thousands of other ordinary English B.A.s, and foresee a life of poverty for her.
I cannot live her life; but I'm unlikely to be able to help her much, either. My retirement is likely to be little above poverty myself. Oh well, perhaps the experience will enrich her; most writers have painful circumstances to inspire them from their lives in their writings. I just hope she doesn't end up like Poe, dying in the gutter in alcoholic delirium.

Posted by: Jim at March 12, 2012 03:22 PM

The labor force is very much evolving, as tends to happen in periods of economic crisis. The distinction in labor force participation rates has to do (in my opinion) with the fact that positions to which college degrees are an absolute requirement tend to be slower to respond to market forces. Some of this is because many are government positions; some of this is because the potential labor supply for those positions is significantly less (1/3rd of the population rather than the whole population).

However, they're also more expensive positions. "Less subject" does not mean "not subject." Many of these positions are going to end up falling prey to market trends you haven't seen yet, but which are certain to develop:

1) Declining tax revenues mean a loss of government jobs, and/or a sharp decline in government pay and benefits;

2) Declining wealth in the population means a falling off of services (e.g., "therapists" with psychology degrees);

3) Administrative/managerial posts can float for a while on a hard market, but not forever. Corporate profits are at record highs right now because they are restructuring (which means, among other things, firing and not hiring expensive workers) without doing so much production (which is expensive).

However, there comes a time when you have to get back to work, or close up. You can only profit off restructuring for so long before you have to start producing again.

Thus, I wouldn't read too much into the disruption associated with this major economic downturn. These trends cannot continue and, therefore, they won't.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 03:40 PM

As for point (1), I should add -- though in this audience it is hardly necessary -- that declining tax revenues aren't the only issue. The need to address increasing debt levels via service payments, the probability of increasing interest levels on that debt, and the upcoming explosion of entitlement payments and pension payments to retiring Boomers is going also to destroy many of these jobs.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 03:43 PM

I agree, Grim, on all points.

Right now higher education is in a massive bubble. The easy availability of loans, combined with a lack of critical thinking skills, is pulling in lots of students who will not be able to get a job making enough to pay back those loans. Bernanke recently said he expects his kid to graduate $400,000+ in debt; how many years before that kid could possibly be clear? Most folks don't START above $100,000k!

Once the tax flow collapses due to the (8% claimed, 20%+ real) unemployment rate, a whole lot of "vital" and "essential" things done by government now won't be; lots more will be cut way back. It may take a currency collapse or economic collapse to do it, but one or the other (if not both) is coming.

Grim's market trends are real, severe and fast a-comin'. If your college degree hasn't taught you how to provide real, effective work products, you will be hurting.

Posted by: Jim at March 12, 2012 03:48 PM

The distinction in labor force participation rates has to do (in my opinion) with the fact that positions to which college degrees are an absolute requirement tend to be slower to respond to market forces. Some of this is because many are government positions; some of this is because the potential labor supply for those positions is significantly less (1/3rd of the population rather than the whole population).

Grim, you are acting as though these trends were just short term trends.

But they're not. Male labor force participation has been declining since the 1950s. When we're talking about a 60 year plus trend, attributing today's numbers to the economic downturn doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 04:10 PM

Whose statistics are these?

The source was in the link I cited, but it's the Bureau of Labor statistics.

The problem with most of what is published today is that results are too frequently agenda-driven; if a group of higher ed doctorates finds that higher education DOESN'T pay, will the publish that?

This is the Bureau of Labor statistics, and the stats cover a period of two decades.

"I was a financial aid officer for 3 years. Students are counseled about debt every time they sign papers. If they don't listen, whose fault is this?"
Did you ever tell a student that their chosen major was useless? Did you never counsel a student who was pursuing an essentially useless career that he was?
(Should colleges be held to truth in employment prospects? How many jobs in "early Romance languages" are there, really? How many "------ - American Cultures" or "------ Studies" positions are available?)

I absolutely DID counsel them on what their payments would be when they graduated and the need to consider whether their earnings would cover their payments (as well as such mundane factors as other expenses like mortgages, rent, car payments).

But I have to say that I'm skeptical of the argument that it's anyone's duty but the student's to figure out if they can afford a loan. I'm also highly skeptical of the "worthless degree" argument.

Every since the BLS began tracking unemployment by educational attainment, the numbers have told the same story: workers with college degrees have far lower unemployment than workers without.

People may not like those numbers, but that doesn't change the outcome one bit.

Individual responsibility isn't something we forget when we don't like the outcome.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 04:43 PM

The sharp upswing is short-term; and the 2/3 ratio is quite new. I do think this is a short-term problem; what I'm unsure about is whether it ends with a new balance with production that allows for a renewed prosperity, or if it ends with the collapse of the system as we know it.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 04:59 PM

The sharp upswing is short-term; and the 2/3 ratio is quite new.

Not according to the Bureau of Labor statistics data. Where are you getting this?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 05:12 PM

Cass..."But I have to say that I'm skeptical of the argument that it's anyone's duty but the student's to figure out if they can afford a loan."

The student has the *primary* duty, for sure, but....if you buy a publicly-traded stock, the company has the duty to provide, in a variety of reports, a stab at identifying the risks. It also has a very strong duty to provide accurate financial statements.

Shouldn't a college dealing with the young & inexperienced have at least the same level of duty as corporations and brokers dealing with investors?

Posted by: david foster at March 12, 2012 05:43 PM

if you buy a publicly-traded stock, the company has the duty to provide, in a variety of reports, a stab at identifying the risks. It also has a very strong duty to provide accurate financial statements.

That's because stock is an investment made in clear expectation of financial return.

Not so with college. People go to school for all sorts of reasons. If you major in one of the liberal arts, there is no clear relationship between the job this would qualify your for and your major.

And even people in very technical fields (or ones who earn advanced degrees like JDs) often end up doing something completely different for reasons that have little - and sometimes nothing whatsoever - to do with the job market.

My husband's degree was in history. His major had NOTHING to do with the job he got (Marine officer).

My son's degree was in history. His major had NOTHING to do with the career he chose (police officer).

My other son's degree is a BA in The Great Books. Today he's a VP for Mortgage Risk - his job has NOTHING to do with what he studied in college.

I work in a technical field (IT). People in my office have degrees that are all over the map. Few of them are in what you'd expect (S/W Engineering or Computer Science).

My oldest friend majored in the liberal arts but now works in a stats related field for the federal govt.

College is not vocational school. Your major matters somewhat, but relevant work experience or other factors matter far more. I graduated with a technical degree, but couldn't get hired in my field because I had no relevant work experience. I would argue that internships are actually far more important than one's college major (and I've known quite a few folks who completed internships outside their major - pretty much every single one ended up in the field they interned in rather than the one they majored in).

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 06:34 PM

The Census bureau, which says that only in the most recent census have women outstripped men in college educations -- and that only by two percentage points. College enrollment for women has generally been higher since the 1980s, but women only surpassed men at all in BAs in 1996; and so it's taken a long time for that to get to anything like parity (and really, a two percent difference is pretty much parity).

This set of articles from Indiana University lays out what I see as the key issues: women get a lot more degrees, but most of them return a lot less for the investment. Some of this is because the degrees are worth less -- education degrees are the #1 degree for women, and these things are worthless academically and of only marginal benefit in the practical business of getting a better job.

After that women study business (the #1 degree for men), but receive less compensation overall due to lifestyle choices. The 2/3 ratio plays in the degrees in the "arts and humanities," but that's not broken down enough to be useful: among the humanities, some of them are highly useful and will help you succeed in business, the military, or life in general; others are less so.

Then there's "social science," again too broad: I don't know if they consider history to be a social science or a humanity, but psychology degrees fall here, and women outnumber men three to one in that field. Well, what do you do with a bachelor's in psychology? Not much -- and salaries are limited at that level. So either you triple down and go for the Ph.D....

There's also a counterweight in the issue, which is that having a college degree (especially a graduate degree) can overqualify you from many jobs. I've applied for jobs without listing my grad degree; and even then, once I had a guy tell me that he had only called me in for an interview because he didn't know a BA was a college degree.

I'm sure that the mass entry of women into the workforce pushed out a certain number of the less-qualified men; that's what you'd expect when the labor supply doubles. Probably a lot of the less-qualified women never entered the workforce at all, so we don't see them "falling out" of the workforce because they were never in it. That means the labor supply increased in quality overall.

What happened to those men? Well, a lot of them went to prison. The prison population has increased by over two million since the early 1980s; more than 99% of the incarcerated are men (women prisoners are a little more than 100,000 of the more than 2.5 million prisoners).

Does that make them victims? To some degree, maybe. Does it make men as a whole victims? Of course not. They are at the head of every field of study that matters, and should be expected to continue to be given the relative flatness of the IQ curve for men. They are at the head of almost all political power, and should be expected to continue to be because of testosterone disproportionately driving men to power-seeking behaviors.

So I doubt men are "endangered" or "victims" in any general sense. There's a general sorting going on via which women are moving in to the vast middle of relatively comfortable, well-paid jobs. However, the future of the existence of that middle is in some doubt: a lot of the choices women have made may very well make them seem more like victims sooner than later. And they'll have non-dischargable student loan debt around their necks when they do.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 08:21 PM

I just sent a long reply to your earlier posts, Cass, which it tells me is in the moderation que.

In the meantime, allow me to object to the idea that history as a major has nothing to do with being a Marine officer. It's the ideal training for a Marine officer: of old, they said that history was "the study of princes" precisely because it was how you trained for practical problems of the type that military men and political leaders entertain.

Historiography is also one of the more demanding methodologies in the arts and sciences. That tends to tell you a lot about which majors will prove useful in the real world, and which ones will not.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 08:25 PM

Sorry, dropped a decimal place on the math: it's not 99.6% of prisoners who are male, but 96%.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 09:16 PM

As usual, we're talking about two completely different things.

You're talking about the total number of men who have degrees (vs. the number of women) - the linked article is confusingly worded but the Census bureau link goes to " Educational Attainment of the Population 25 Years and Over, by Selected Characteristics: 2010"

Considering that we started off with a gender gap the other way around, it makes sense that it took women time to catch up. But your (Census) number is a lagging indicator: it reflects the past more than the present or the future.

The "bump" of men who earned their degrees back when the gap was the other way around are all nearing retirement age. Combine that with the fact that more female students are earning degrees *now* and you have a trend that can only get worse with time.

I'm talking about relative proportion of degrees awarded to men vs. women by year, which indicates (unless it is reversed) what the future will look like. By that statistic, women overtook men 3 decades ago.

To use an analogy, it's like you're saying "The boy car started earlier and had a HUGE head start, but it has been losing speed ever since. The girl car started later but has been accelerating ever since."

"The girl car passed the boy car in 1996 (or 1981 depending on which stat you use), but I'm not worried because it isn't that far ahead of the boy car yet."

True, but since the boy car is slowing down and the girl car is still accelerating, the girl car's lead will continue to grow and the boy car will continue to fall farther and farther behind.

Does this matter? Not if you don't care about the last 20 years of unemployment and labor force participation stats, both of which show that unemployment is far lower for college grads.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 09:52 PM

In the meantime, allow me to object to the idea that history as a major has nothing to do with being a Marine officer. It's the ideal training for a Marine officer: of old, they said that history was "the study of princes" precisely because it was how you trained for practical problems of the type that military men and political leaders entertain.

The point, Grim, is that the Marines didn't care what his major was.

The requirement was "a college degree", not "a history degree". Which meshes with the charts on unemployment by educational attainment. If there are a large number of "worthless" degrees nowadays, we should be seeing the distance between the unemployment rates for college vs non college educated workers decrease.

But it hasn't.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2012 09:56 PM

I did want to comment on the history degree thing, but Grim nailed it. That is an excellent degree for anyone in a leadership position - military or otherwise.

An aside - is the lower unemployment rate with higher education the result of the degree or is it the result of the work habits of the people getting the degree? College is a series of hurdles, in many cases unrealistic, that need to be jumped to succeed. The actual information imparted may or may not be useful in the real world. I have a computer science degree that while interesting had very little practical application when I worked in the IT field. It was basically a door opener.

As another aside (recursive asides?), I'm rapidly reaching the point where my involuntary reaction to anyone claiming victim status is going to be to slap them upside the head.

Posted by: Pogue at March 12, 2012 10:03 PM

The unemployment number, though, only tracks people in the workforce. Women who leave the workforce to have children aren't tracked by it because they are not looking for work.

My wife is a good example. She's gone back to work in the last year, after ten years of being out of the workforce. She has both a college degree and a graduate degree. So for ten years she was out of work, but never would it impact the statistics for women's unemployment rates.

Now, we know that women are more likely to take a mid-career break (or to leave the workforce entirely) for child-rearing. They're also more likely to be 'underemployed' in the sense of taking a part-time job instead of a full-time job if they have children; but this, too, won't show up on the unemployment rates.

There's a real problem for the lower end of the scale. Women end up on welfare, men end up in prison. That's a problem: but insofar as they are victims, they're not victims qua men or women. They're victims qua people who were either born with a bad lot -- low IQ, no family structure, or the lot -- or they're people who made bad decisions. Frequently, as you know, it's both.

What we do about them is important: neither prison nor welfare are very good models. It's not going to be addressed by affirmative action to get these men into college, though, because they are the least likely to belong in college. That flat IQ curve works both ways: whereas the vast majority of women fall in the near-middle, and can thus be educated to a bachelor's level in some discipline or other, there are fair numbers of men (and a certain number of women) who really can't be. That's not a fixable problem.

What we need is better work for them, but nobody likes that solution. It sounds like Ludditism to say that we need to invest less in technology and employ more people doing manual labor. That's not the kind of country we want to be.

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 10:12 PM

By the way, I don't know about the USMC not caring about what the degree is in. I had a friend who was in the program about fifteen years ago, and the Corps was very specific about what was acceptable: most of the degrees they would consider were in science or mathematics or engineering.

Now, it could be that if you went the OCC route, you could get in more easily because you'd already have the degree. The other route requires them to pay for it, and they're pickier about what they are willing to pay for (as they ought to be -- that's our money!).

Posted by: Grim at March 12, 2012 10:16 PM

I can't speak to what recruiting is doing right now. The Marine Corps has always had less trouble recruiting than the other services, and with the bad economy I would expect standards to have tightened somewhat.

But I would be surprised to find they were only interested in technical degrees. As you (and Pogue) observed, history provides a good foundation for leadership skills. Most people with highly technical degrees are introverts. They don't tend (as a general class of people) to gravitate to management, which is essentially what being an officer is all about.

You both seem to think I was dissing History as a major. I wasn't - if I thought it was a worthless major I would hardly have approved of my son majoring in it. As I remarked on the next thread, I have never thought that college was anything like a guarantee of employment. It's more like a minimum requirement these days.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2012 09:31 AM

As another aside (recursive asides?), I'm rapidly reaching the point where my involuntary reaction to anyone claiming victim status is going to be to slap them upside the head.

Hence my mystification with the not so subtle suggestion that the dearth of men in college is prima facie evidence of some insidious form of discrimination.

That argument didn't fly with conservatives when the feminists used to, so it's quite strange to see it being suggested now that the gender gap runs the other way.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2012 09:34 AM

(Tosses in 11' pole) Have fun.

Posted by: ry at March 16, 2012 02:17 PM

"(Tosses in 11' pole) Have fun."

Oooooh! Clue bat for Occupy *Wherever* critters....allows for proper tutelage without fear of *getting any on you*.

*tosses ry a bag of Cheetos*
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at March 16, 2012 03:01 PM

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