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ISSUE 116 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/4/2002

Gender ratio gap mirrors recent trend

By Jane Dudzinski
Contributing Writer


Friday, October 4, 2002

St. Olaf, along with liberal arts colleges across the country, is currently experiencing a trend towards an increased female population.

The female-male ratio at St. Olaf is typically 60:40, with a student population of just over 3,000.

This skewed female-male ratio, however, is not a sudden development. The number of female students has exceeded the number of male students in the U.S. higher education system since 1978, according to the Associated Press.

In fact, the current female-male ratio in college students across the country is 6.8 million women to 5.5 million men. Thus women comprise approximately 55 percent of the college enrollment.

Men and women, moreover, have not attended schools in equal numbers since 1986, according to the Brown Daily Herald.

According to Director of Admissions Jeff McLaughlin, “the number of men going to college right after high school has been trending downwards for almost a decade.”

The gender gap is even more pronounced at liberal arts colleges, though, where women make up 61% of the enrollment, according to the American Council on Education.

In the vicinity of St. Olaf, similar liberal arts colleges are experiencing different trends in their gender issues.

Carleton College’s current first year class is comprised of 267 women and 239 men. Its current sophomore class is comprised of 268 women and 252 men. While differences do exist, both of these classes differ only on average of about 20 more women.

Gustavus Adolphus College, on the other hand, is experiencing a gender gap much like St. Olaf’s. The entire student body, made up of 2,525 students, is 57% women and 43% men.

At St. Olaf most students think that the female-male ratio seems to affect the social atmosphere, more than classroom dynamics.

“Most of my classes seems pretty evenly split. I think we’ve gotten to the point in our society that more women are going to college across the nation than ever before,” said Samantha Gruner ‘06.

In general, most students have noticed the effects of the ratio in the social setting. “A lot of people look at college as a time to find a life partner. The more women there are to choose from, the luckier we are,” said Tom Franek ‘06.

The Office of Admissions is aiming to acheive a more balanced ratio.

“The ongoing goal is to keep a strong academic profile, and within that framework move towards a 50/50 split, “ McLaughlin said.

Overall, male students seem to appreciate the ratio. “I think the ratio is perfect and it makes the classroom atmosphere amazing on a day-to-day basis. It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful, oh, it’s beautiful,” said Kenny Zimmerman ‘06.





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