Gender gap noticed but not a concern

When sophomore Paige Frisone entered her Introduction to Creative Writing: Prose class for the first time, it was obvious to her that the class would be different from any others she’s taken at Butler thus far.

The class is all female.

“I don’t mind that it’s all girls,” Frisone said. “It’s kind of nice, and I feel at home in that class, but it would be nice to have some male peers.”

A ratio like this is not uncommon at a liberal arts college like Butler, Dean of Admissions Scott Ham said.

Butler’s campus has been 60 percent female and 40 percent male for the last few school years, Ham said.

Nationally, Butler is consistent with other colleges.

According to the 2009 census, 56 percent of college students were female.

“Women are now entering fields of study and professional paths that were typically male-dominated,” Ham said. “Doors are opening for them that weren’t as open 10 or 15 years ago.”

Studies by the National Center for Education Statistics show that since the 1960s, the number of male undergraduate students enrolled in colleges nationally has increased by 39 percent. Women undergradates have increased by 157 percent.

Women have also passed men in attaining every level of degree, from high school diplomas to professional and doctoral degrees.

Yet while women are making strides in the fields of higher education, there are concerns about the social repercussions that will result with a higher percentage of women in college than men.

Sophomore Taylor Brown has concerns about simple interaction with her male classmates.

“Last year, I lived in an all-girls dorm,” Brown said. “Now, I live in a sorority house. I really have to go out of my way to be around guys here at Butler.”

Tom Mortenson, senior scholar at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, also addressed social concerns of this trend in his study titled “What’s Wrong with the Guys?”

“Eventually, all of these women will graduate, and some will want to marry,” Mortenson said in his study. “But the numbers show that some women will not be able to marry college-educated men. There won’t be enough.”

The numbers aren’t far enough apart to be concerning to university officials or admissions, Ham said.

“Only ten years ago, we had a 64-36 split with more female students,” Ham said. “That number has leveled out some naturally, so we aren’t terribly concerned.”

Senior Cody Jackson is not very concerned about the numbers either.

“Honestly, I’m a fan of the girl-to-guy ratio,” Jackson said. “I meet new girls every week, so I’m not complaining.”

While the ratio may pose some problems, female students like Brown and Frisone do see the accomplishment in women’s strides in higher education.

“From an academic standpoint and a feminist standpoint, I guess it is pretty awesome that women are the majority of the population in colleges,” Brown said.

Frisone said that she sees both benefits and shortfalls to having more women than men on campus.

“It seems wrong for me to say that having too many girls in a class or on a campus is wrong because not very long ago, women were inferior to men,” Frisone said. “But I also think it’s important to learn how to be codependent with the other gender.”

Ham agrees and said that in the end, gender should not matter so much.

“Women are just more interested in pursuing higher education, and that’s great,” he said. “Women should feel as comfortable as men in the classroom, and this is proof that initiatives for that have been successful.”