Gender in College Admissions

Gender in Admissions, Admissions and Gender, Females at Brown University

Brown University receives more applications from females than males (photo credit: Ad Meskens).

Samantha Savello wrote a good op-ed on the pages of “The Brown Daily Herald” that we wanted to share with the readers of our college admissions blog. It’s no surprise to us that the piece, entitled “Gender should play no role in admissions,” appears in Brown University’s newspaper. After all, many more females apply to Brown University than do males. It is thus very logical to argue that it is more competitive to earn admission to Brown for females than it is for males. Will Brown acknowledge this truth? Unlikely. But as Ms. Savello correctly argues in her op-ed, highly selective colleges want to try to balance the male-female ratio on their campuses. When so many more female applicants apply than do males, you bet it’s easier for males to earn admission because they’ve got to maintain that balance. See how simple and logical the argument is?

Ms. Savello argues in her piece that colleges should move away from trying to balance out the male-female ratio. We don’t see this happening anytime soon since a gender balance is important at co-ed highly selective colleges. But her argument is an eloquent one nonetheless. As she writes, “In a world where gender roles are transforming drastically and the definition of gender itself is beginning to change even in the mainstream, the strict focus on these ratios in admission decisions doesn’t seem to make sense. This is especially relevant given Brown’s focus on diversity. Using resources to manufacture a balance based on a socially constructed binary is hypocritical to the Brown community’s strong liberal stance. It doesn’t reflect the ideals of a place where students give each other the space to introduce themselves and their gender pronouns at club meetings, for example. Additionally, many students do not identify with a gender, are fluid between genders or are transgender, which is why the process of meeting benchmarks according to the gender binary is problematic.”

We absolutely agree that it’s unfair that females have a tougher time getting into Brown than do males. And Brown is not alone in trying to create a gender balance — not even close. Brown just happens to be a highly selective university that gets a whole lot more applicants from one gender than they do from another. Do we foresee this changing anytime soon? No. Do we agree with the merits of Ms. Savello’s argument? You bet. But we also live in the real world and all colleges, including Brown, will always care about their numbers. Brown can’t risk becoming 80% female. Nor will they.

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