Why 50% More Females Than Males Go to College – College Reality Check (2023)

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, almost 60% of college students were females during the last academic year, while only just 40% were males.

What’s interesting about this is that, about 50 years ago, gender proportions as far as American higher education goes were reversed.

But if truth be told, it’s something that didn’t happen overnight.

Gender disparities on college and university campuses, as a matter of fact, have a long and complex saga, which can be traced back to the 1906s when more women sought to have careers or in the 1970s when Title IX was passed.

Why 50% More Females Than Males Go to College – College Reality Check (1)

Why are Fewer Men Going to College?

Less men are going to college to earn a degree for economic and cultural reasons. These days, recent college graduates have jobs that typically do not require a college degree. In addition, various skilled trades are available for men, thus allowing them to make an average of $21.55 per hour or $44,824 per year.

In some instances, a lot of men quit pursuing further academic goals after earning a high school diploma to avoid wasting both time and money on a piece of paper that may not pay off as expected.

This is especially true when the bigger picture after working on an undergraduate degree is taken into account.

Underemployment is lower among men

Compared to college graduates overall, recent college graduates are more likely to be underemployed.

Simply put, being underemployed means working in jobs that typically do not require the possession of a college degree.

So, in other words, a person who is underemployed is not doing work or given enough paid work that completely utilizes all the knowledge, skills and abilities he or she acquired and developed through postsecondary education.

According to recent data, around 53% of recent college graduates are underemployed.

Some are unemployed, too — it usually takes fresh degree holders about half a year to find their first job.

But it’s important to note that underemployment among new college graduates is not exclusive to men.

If truth be told, things are worse for women.

Based on a report called The Permanent Detour: Underemployment’s Long-Term Effects on the Careers of College Grads, women are considerably more likely to be underemployed than men.

As a matter of fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 female college graduates are initially underemployed.

Meanwhile, more than 1 out of every 3 male college graduates, which accounts for 37% of them compared to 47% of women, are underemployed from the outset of their working careers.

Skilled trades dominated by men

Everyone knows that the skilled trades are dominated by men.

(Video) GRADUATION DEGREES जिनकी आज के तारिक में 0 VALUE है | Most unemployable Degrees in India

As a matter of fact, construction, which employs around 10,030,000 people across the said industry, is comprised of around 89% males.

Here are the blue-collar jobs that follow it:

  • Mining (85% males)
  • Oil and gas extraction (85% males)
  • Quarrying (85% males)
  • Transportation and utilities (75% males)
  • Durable goods (74% males)
  • Agriculture and related industries (72% males)
  • Manufacturing (71% males)
  • Wholesale trade (70% males)
  • Non-durable goods (64% males)

On the flip side, only a handful of skilled trades employ more women, such as:

  • Private households (88% females)
  • Education and health services (75% females)
  • Financial activities (52% females)
  • Leisure and hospitality (51%)

With so many blue-collar jobs available to males that are largely dominated by them, too, it isn’t surprising that a lot of men find spending precious resources on a college degree unnecessary.

Military draft end contributed to reduction of male applicants

There was a point during the 1970s that contributed to the downtick of male students in postsecondary institutions in the country: the lifting of the military draft with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

During the Vietnam War, you see, many men enrolled in colleges to avoid compulsory enlistment for state service, though it did not completely result in deferments but only delays in conscription.

So much so that around 59% of all undergraduate students in 2-year institutions and about 57% in 4-year institutions back then were males.

But then on January27, 1973, after 25 years, the end of the military draft was announced.

No sooner than it happened, the gender enrollment gap closed all of a sudden — with men no longer using college campuses as shields, gender in 4-year institutions gradually attained balance, which culminated sometime in the 80s.

On the other hand, around 55% of enrollments in 2-year institutions were accounted for by women.

Why 50% More Females Than Males Go to College – College Reality Check (2)

Why More Women Go to College

Opening doors to better career opportunities — perhaps no other driving force behind the fact that there are more women in college than men now more than ever is as influential as this.

But it’s a multifaceted matter whose momentum can be attributed to a handful of things.

Better SAT performance

While the SAT came into being in the mid-1920s, it took a while for colleges and universities in the US to require applicants to submit their scores from the said standardized test.

For instance, it was in the mid-1930s when SAT scores became a requirement at Harvard University. On the other hand, it was in the 1960s when the University of California system required it.

And when it comes to SAT scores, male test-takers always enjoyed slightly higher figures — they scored higher than female test-takers for the reading section and math section by a relative performance of 0.99 and 0.93, respectively.

However, when the College Board remodeled the SAT, things took a different turn altogether.

Back in 2016, changes to the structure and timing of various sections, the nature of questions asked and the scoring methods were implemented by the SAT’s creator and administrator.

And in the class of 2017, the relative performance of girls rose, which coincided with a small increase in the college enrollment rates of females.

(Video) Record Men Are Dropping Out Of College (and it’s terrible for women)

Increased labor force participation

Wives and mothers — these were the traditional roles of American women in the 1960s.

The few career opportunities available for them were traditionally female professions such as secretarial work, teaching and nursing.

During that time, however, there was an increasing trend for them to work outside of the home. As a matter of fact, the representation of women in the labor force rose from 27% of all workers in 1950 to 32% in 1960.

Because of this, more and more women realized that they could, in fact, aim for more lucrative careers. As such, female attendance in colleges and universities in the US rose as the financial returns on college investment were realized.

According to a report by Dartmouth University, it was in the 1960s and 1970s when the participation of women in higher education significantly increased and, starting in 1979, they began outnumbering male college students in the US.

Do Colleges Prefer Men Applicants Than Women?

Institutions of higher education are well aware of the fact that nearly 60% of all college-goers these days are women, and just over 40% of them are men — sometime in the past, as earlier mentioned in this post, it was the total opposite.

And so in order to restore correct gender balance, many colleges and universities, allegedly, have sprung into action.

Case in point: at some private degree-granting schools, getting in has been easier for male applicants than female ones, which explains why, in most instances, across the board, the acceptance rates for men are usually higher than for women.

According to an article by The Hechinger Report, admissions officers at Brandeis University from 2012 to 2014 were instructed to admit more male applicants by lowering admissions standards for them.

Just to paint you a better picture: given a male applicant and a female applicant with similar profiles, the college would probably send the male student an acceptance letter and put the female student on the wait list in an attempt to improve the male-to-female student ratio.

During the academic year 2012 to 2013, Brandeis admitted 44% male applicants and 36% female applicants.

A spokesperson, however, said that the school does not currently use gender as an admissions factor.

As a matter of fact, back in 2020, its acceptance rates for men were 31% for men and 35% for women. And looking at the most recent data from US News, student diversity at Brandeis in terms of gender is 41% male and 59% female.

The same article said that, based on a non-comprehensive review of federal data, many other selective colleges and universities had higher admission rates for male applicants in 2019 and 2020.

And they include:

  • Boston College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brown University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Pomona College
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of Miami
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wesleyan University
Why 50% More Females Than Males Go to College – College Reality Check (3)

What Colleges Have More Males Than Females?

Although it’s true that more females are in college these days than males, it’s not all the time that a huge chunk of the population of institutions of higher education consists of mostly females.

At some schools, the campus is still dominated by males.

Certain majors and programs are simply more attractive to degree-seeking men than women.

(Video) The 1 Secret Thing You CAN'T Be In Scientology

The vast majority of them, as expected, are in the STEM field, with the exception of biology and biology-related ones.

On the other hand, some areas of discipline tend to draw in more degree-seeking females, and some of the top ones are humanities, language and sociology.

According to a report by The Tab, the following are courses with the highest percentage of male students:

  • Engineering (80%)
  • Computing (80%)
  • Math (63%)
  • Architecture (62%)
  • Physical sciences (59%)
  • Business and management (52%)
  • Biological sciences (51%)

Needless to say, colleges and universities popular for or specializing in the said disciplines usually have more male attendees than females. Leading the list are engineering and technological institutions.

Of course, anyone can expect to see a lot of men when they step foot on the campuses of maritime and military schools.

Here are some postsecondary institutions in the US where there are more male students than female ones.

  • Alfred State College – SUNY (63%)
  • California State University – Maritime Academy (81%)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (75%)
  • Florida Polytechnic University (83%)
  • Kettering University (79%)
  • Landmark College (67%)
  • Maine Maritime Academy (82%)
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy (86%)
  • McPherson College (67%)
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering (73%)
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology (63%)
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (75%)
  • The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina (86%)
  • United States Air Force Academy (71%)
  • United States Coast Guard Academy (60%)
  • United States Military Academy at West Point (76%)
  • United States Naval Academy (71%)
  • University of the People (61%)
  • Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology (87%)
  • Virginia Military Institute (86%)
  • Webber International University (67%)
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology (78%)

Men vs. Women in College: Important Statistics

Before I bring this post to an end, let’s take a quick look at some other important figures as far as the population of male and female students goes so that there will be no room left unexplored.

Graduation rates

According to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), back in 2020, the overall 6-year graduation rate for females was higher than for males — 67% vs. 60%.

The trend is true for both public and private non-profit 4-year degree-granting institutions.

At public colleges and universities in the US in the same year, the 6-year graduation rate for females was 66%.

The 6-year graduation rate for males, on the other hand, was only 60%. Meanwhile, at private non-profit postsecondary institutions, the 6-year graduation rate for females was 71%. For males, it was only 64%.

While more women finished college in a span of 6 years than men at public schools and even more so at private non-profit schools, the same cannot be said at private for-profit institutions.

In those, the 6-year graduation rate was higher for males than females — 31% vs. 28%.

Enrollment rates

Other than the fact that more females tend to graduate within a 6-year period than males at most types of institutions of higher education, the NCES says that there are also more women than men who enroll in colleges.

In 2020, for instance, female students made up around 58% of the total undergraduate enrollments in the US.

That’s equivalent to around 9.2 million students. On the other hand, in the same year, male students made up only about 42% of the total undergraduate enrollments in the land, which is equivalent to approximately 6.7 million students.

The disparity in enrollment rates between female and male students is nothing new. As a matter of fact, similar trends have been established from 2009 until 2019.

During the said time period, female and male enrollments in American colleges and universities both decreased by about 5% — that means from 9.9 million to 9.4 million female students and from 7.6 million to 7.1 million male students.

(Video) Jordan Peterson - More Than 50% Of Women Are Childless At 30

Doing the math, that translates to a drop in college enrollments of an average of about 0.5% each year for female and male students alike.

Come 2020, female enrollment was 2% lower than in 2019. Male enrollment, meanwhile, was 7% lower.

Degree attainment rates

In the academic year 2019 to 2020, more than 20 million bachelor’s degrees were conferred in the US by 4-year degree-granting institutions. Of those degrees, around 58% were awarded to women.

The last time that equal numbers of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to men and women was in 1980.

Slowly but surely, more and more female students than men earned their degrees.

By the academic year 1990 to 1991, significantly more bachelor’s degrees were conferred to women than men — 54% vs. 46%.

The trend continued and, during the academic year 2000 to 2021, a whopping 57% of all bachelor’s degrees conferred went to female graduates.

For over 20 years now, consistently, women have accounted for more than 50% of all American bachelor’s degree holders. And if this continues, experts say that the time might come when 2 women will earn a bachelor’s degree for every man.

Transfer rates

When it comes to the number of students who transfer schools and eventually earn a degree, men take the cake.

Economics of Education Review says that almost a third of all students who are attending community colleges transfer to 4-year institutions by the time they are 25 years old.

Among those, most are males — and males who transfer are likelier to graduate.

The findings of The American Association of University Women (AAUW) corroborate this.

Among undergraduates at 2-year institutions, up to 37% of male students say that they attend a community college to transfer to a 4-year institution eventually.

On the other hand, only 30% of women say the same.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that more female students than males at community colleges have set their eyes on an associate degree — up to 35% of females say that the completion of an associate degree is their reason for attending a 2-year institution, while 34% of males exhibit the same mindset.

Just Before You Go

Since you are interested in higher ed statistics, check other resources we have on the same topics:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

(Video) The Simple Reason 90% of Men Are Lost in Life | Jordan Peterson


How does gender affect college acceptance? ›

More, and more qualified, women apply to top colleges than men. While this is not the case at all colleges, it is true of admissions as a whole. When admissions officers try to build a balanced class, they have no choice but to evaluate female applicants more harshly, and are more likely to give male applicants a pass.

What is the female to male ratio for college students? ›

The number of women attending college increased in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1994, the sex ratio was balanced at 50-50. In the almost 30 years since, the gap has widened in the opposite direction. Today there are about 40 men for every 60 women on many college campuses.

What is the gender gap in higher education? ›

In 1970, just 12 percent of young women (ages 25 to 34) had a bachelor's degree, compared to 20 percent of men — a gap of eight percentage points. By 2020, that number had risen to 41 percent for women but only to 32 percent for men — a nine percentage–point gap, now going the other way.

Why are men less likely to go to college? ›

There are multiple reasons why men are not as likely to attend college, both cultural and economic, but one important reason is concerning: The return on investment for receiving a college degree has declined or turned negative, especially for men.

Does gender influence academic success? ›

The results from this study showed that there are gender differences in academic ability and that females generally outperform males in verbal abilities and GPA. However, no gender differences were found in terms of quantitative skills.

What college has the highest girl to guy ratio? ›

  • Trident Technical College. Charleston. SC. ...
  • California State University - East Bay. Hayward. CA. ...
  • Temple University. Philadelphia. PA. ...
  • Valdosta State University. Valdosta. GA. ...
  • Mt San Jacinto College. San Jacinto. CA. ...
  • Edison College. Fort Myers. FL. - ...
  • CUNY La Guardia Community College. Long Island City. NY. 57% ...
  • Union County College.

What college has the highest female ratio? ›

Colleges With Highest % of Women
  • Southern New Hampshire University. One of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation and a network of support. ...
  • Strayer University. We currently offer 5 degree programs in Accounting, Management, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Information Technology. ...
  • Liberty University.

Where is the highest female to male ratio in the world? ›

Worldwide, the male population is slightly higher than the female population, although this varies by country. As of 2021, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, under the control of China, has the highest share of women worldwide with 54.2 percent. Curacao followed directly with 54 percent.

Why do more females attend college? ›

As women increased their labor force participation over time, financial returns to college investment became more important, and more women chose to enter college so as to gain access to more lucrative careers. More generally speaking, there is no reason to expect a perfect gender balance in college.

Why is gender equality in education important? ›

The education of girls and women can lead to a wide range of benefits from improved maternal health, reduced infant mortality and fertility rates to increased prevention against HIV and AIDS.

Are males more likely to dropout of school than females? ›

Some studies cite gender differences, suggesting that males are more likely than females to both drop out of high school before receiving a diploma, as well as report completing eight or fewer years of schooling (Sum & Harrington, 2003).

Why are less people going to college? ›

Many have turned to hourly jobs or careers that don't require a degree, while others have been deterred by high tuition and the prospect of student debt. What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis.

Why do most people not go to college? ›

Many of those who didn't enroll or complete degrees say college was too expensive — but they also cite stress and career uncertainty, new research finds.

What majors are male dominated? ›

Men tend to major in Business, Social Sciences, non-Biology-related STEM, and Philosophy.

How does gender affect a study? ›

As previously stated, gender bias can influence the selection of a research topic or even when it comes to choosing the right samples, resulting in a lack of understanding about the biology of female species, other than reproductive biology, as research is often centered on male beings.

How does gender bias impact school? ›

Besides promoting gender inequality, gender bias creates learning inequality in the classroom and sets limits on future potential. Students who are socialized into a stereotypical gender role tend to behave in ways that limit their holistic development and often develop learning, behavior, and emotional problems.

Does gender affect learning style? ›

Boys' need for active participation has been attributed to how their brains process information. Another very important learning-style difference is that females enjoy learning with varied strategies whereas males need more structure and routine especially when learning new and difficult content.

What is Harvard gender ratio? ›

Harvard Demographics Gender

At Harvard, there are approximately 15,882 female students, making up approximately 50.5% of the student body, and 14,509 male students, making up approximately 49.5%.

Are less men going to college? ›

Male persistence in higher education is a major issue — men are 20% more likely to drop out of college than women. Considering the fact that 40% of students in general drop out of college every year, that 20% increase is quite a significant factor.

What college majors are female dominated? ›

The most female-dominated majors are Social Work (85 percent female), Healthcare Administration (84 percent female), Anthropology (80 percent female), Nursing (80 percent female), and Human Resources (80 percent female).

What is the number 1 womens college in the US? ›

Barnard College

#1 Best Women's Colleges in America.

What is the largest all women's college? ›

Texas Woman's University is the nation's largest state-supported university primarily for women. Since 1994, it also offers co-educational facilities and has health science center branches in Dallas and Houston. It offers degree programs in: the liberal arts.

Which country has shortage of men? ›

Man-Shortage Countries / Countries with a Shortage of Men 2023
Country2023 Population
209 more rows

Which country is female dominated? ›

According to 2019 estimates by the United Nations, there are now 101.7 men for every 100 women in the world. But in some countries, women far outnumber men.
Top 10 Countries with Highest Female Population.
(Rank)CountryFemale population (% of the total population)
6 more rows
Oct 22, 2021

Which city has the most females? ›

The statistic shows the top 50 metropolitan areas of the United States with the highest share of the female population in 2019. In 2019, Jackson in Missouri ranked first with 52.3 percent of residents being women.

Who is impacted by girls education? ›

Both individuals and countries benefit from girls' education. Better educated women tend to be more informed about nutrition and healthcare, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and their children are usually healthier, should they choose to become mothers.

Why is gender diversity important in school? ›

Gender Diversity supports schools in providing a supportive, non-discriminatory environment for all students, including gender diverse and transgender children. We help administrators, teachers, and staff gently move from awareness to action in order to create more inclusive classrooms.

What is an example of gender inequality in education? ›

For example, comments that girls are not as good at math as boys. Being called derogatory names related to your sexual orientation. Being misgendered by classmates or teachers. Being told by a teacher that they expect more (or less) of you because you are a girl, boy, or nonbinary person.

Do schools treat girls and boys the same way? ›

Consciously or unconsciously, today's teachers treat boys and girls differently in classrooms. Boys are given more opportunities than girls. Disparities in gender influence the development of children, and this negative impact continues to grow with the children.

Why do boys achieve less at school than girls? ›

It is demonstrated that boys' culture is less study oriented than girls' culture and that this difference can be held responsible for the gender differences in achievement, at least in general schools. In technical/vocational schools, boys seem to oppose the study culture.

Is college enrollment declining by gender? ›

New data shows gender disparities in fall 2022 college freshmen enrollment, with female students opting out at more than twice the rate of males, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Does gender affect college GPA? ›

We find that males earn lower GPAs and credits in their first semester of college largely because they enter college with lower non-cognitive skills, captured by lower high school grades. After the first semester, males fall further behind their female counterparts in grades and credits.

What gender drops out of college more? ›

In public universities, 65% of women graduate compared to 59% of men. In private nonprofit colleges, 71% more women graduate than 64% of men. In private for profit colleges, 28% more men graduate than 25% more women.

How does gender affect decision making? ›

Research has demonstrated gender differences in the decision-making process, showing that women make more disadvantageous risk decisions than men.

What is causing the decline in college enrollment? ›

Part of the reason is that students on average are collectively taking fewer classes. In the last two years, students began taking . 4 fewer units a term. That may seem insignificant, but with more than 400,000 students, that fraction of a change means the equivalent of 8,000 fewer full-time students enrolled.

How many girls are being denied education? ›

“The world is failing 130 million girls denied the human right to education – a fundamental, transformative, and empowering right for every human being. Universal access to quality education enables individuals, communities, countries and the world to build wellbeing and prosperity for all.

Why is US college enrollment declining? ›

The system is continuing to project that it will be 7% below its state-funded target of 383,680 for resident students during the 2022-23 academic year — that's more than 25,000 full-time equivalent students. The decreases are due to the effects of the pandemic and long-term declining birth rates.

What is the average girl GPA? ›

Average female GPA is 3.1, whereas males have an average GPA of 2.9. The average difference reduces with the ACT composite score. When it comes to students who had an ACT composite score of twelve, high school GPA was 0.84 points higher than college GPA.

Why do girls have higher GPAs? ›

Mediation analyses suggested girls earned higher GPAs at least in part because they were more self-disciplined. Source: “Self-discipline gives girls the edge: Gender in self-discipline, grades, and achievement test scores.” from Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 98(1), Feb 2006, 198-208. Join 25K+ readers.

Is it harder to get into college as a girl? ›

And since most colleges are “open admission,” meaning that they admit all or nearly all qualified applicants, women have a better overall admissions rate than men.

Which college class has the most girls? ›

The courses with the highest percentage of female students:
  • Veterinary sciences: 81.68 per cent.
  • Psychology: 81.16 per cent.
  • Subjects allied to medicine: 79.12 per cent.
  • Teaching: 77.11 per cent.
  • Languages: 71.03 per cent.
  • Humanities: 70.3 per cent.
  • Social sciences: 66.42 per cent.
Jan 27, 2021

Which gender is better at problem solving? ›

Based on the analysis, it shows the same result as found by Flanagan and Hyde. It can be concluded that females acquire better computation abilities and problem-solving skill in primary school.

How does gender affect motivation? ›

Results showed that Male students are more extrinsically motivated. A significant gender difference in the aspect of Easy work and academic outcomes exists. Furthermore, students educational attainment is significantly affected by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Why are women's decision-making important? ›

Having both men and women involved in decision-making broadens the perspectives, increases creativity and innovation, diversifies the pool of talents and competences, reduces conflicts, and improves the process of decision-making.


1. Reality of a Woman in India [ Hindi ] || Nitish Rajput
(Nitish Rajput)
2. Is this normal hair loss? Doctor responds
3. This Guy Knows His Numbers! #Shorts | Shark Tank US | Shark Tank Global
(Shark Tank Global)
4. How To Scare a 71-Year-Old V*rgin
(Podcast But Outside)
5. Why the rate of single men in the US looking for dates has declined
6. Show us that you are BORN PINK and join us in the #PinkVenomChallenge Only on YouTube Shorts.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Annamae Dooley

Last Updated: 07/10/2023

Views: 6274

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Annamae Dooley

Birthday: 2001-07-26

Address: 9687 Tambra Meadow, Bradleyhaven, TN 53219

Phone: +9316045904039

Job: Future Coordinator

Hobby: Archery, Couponing, Poi, Kite flying, Knitting, Rappelling, Baseball

Introduction: My name is Annamae Dooley, I am a witty, quaint, lovely, clever, rich, sparkling, powerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.