Men gradually disappearing from higher education

This year’s Fall Enrollment Report is
out, and numbers show that despite the
fact that there are more men than women
in Anchorage, women are making up about
60 percent of UAA’s student body.
This is on par with the rest of the
nation, where across the board there are
more women than men enrolling in and
graduating from secondary education.
Judith Kleinfeld, a professor of
psychology at UAF and director of The Boys
Project, a nonprofi t group that addresses
the gender gap, has been researching the
issue of dropping male interest in higher
education.
“[Women] are just beating the guys.
They are. doing better,” Kleinfeld said.
“Girls tend to be more developmentally
mature then men. They have more role
models of women who balance life and
work as opposed to men.”
A bachelor’s degree adds about $1.2
million to a man’s lifetime income
compared to that of a male high school
graduate. For a woman that amount adds
up to only $650,000. The value of a college
degree to men should be obvious, yet their
numbers are dropping.
“Girls see going to college as a necessity,”
Kleinfeld said. “Guys just don’t generally
like school as much, and they don’t see it as
a necessity because there are other jobs that
are more attractive with physical activity
and the outdoors.”
More important to the continued growth
of female enrollment are societal changes
and parental infl uence.
“Parents see [college] as a protective
environment, very often they want [their
daughters] in an environment that’s
protective. They don’t want their girls
exposed to the blue collar jobs,” Kleinfeld
said. “They see girls as an investment they
can be proud of. Parents notice the high rate
of divorce as well and want their girls to be
independent, and not rely on a man. So all
these social forces are pushing women to
go to college in record numbers.”
At UAA, the ratio of males to females
is on par with national numbers. What
sets the university apart is that the ratio
has stayed fl at since 2005. This means
the university has not done any better at
enrolling male students, but it has also
not done any worse. By not losing male
students, UAA is doing much better than
most other higher education facilities.
Rick Weems, assistant vice chancellor
of Enrollment Management, said there
was no concerted effort to increase male
enrollment at UAA.
“Our average student only takes nine
credits; that’s far more worrisome to me,”
Weems said.
Weems said he thought Alaska was
a special case when it comes to college
enrollment numbers and future job
opportunities.
“Alaska is still a blue collar state, so
students out of high school can fi nd good
jobs without college,” Weems said. “As the
oil industry declines in the future, we will
see if that stays true.”
UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer echoed
Weems assertion that there was no push at
UAA to increase male enrollment.
“I’m not aware if either UAA or
University of Alaska in general is doing
anything specifi c to reach out to male
students in any different way than we’re
reaching out to female students.”
Nor is there a push to expand any
particular programs that are more maleoriented,
Ulmer said.
“I don’t really believe if you look at the
mix of courses that are offered here that
we are light on ‘guy’ programs. I really
don’t think we are,” Ulmer said. “My gut
tells me that we offer a lot of programs that
will be of interest to both genders.”