By adamg on Wed, 01/27/2010 - 8:02am From the BU Daily Free Press: High female ratio not a problem, BU males say. Neighborhoods: Topics: Free tagging: students, Boston University Tweet WidgetFacebook Like Comments Odd story For one thing, given that this is hardly a new problem at BU, you're dealing with a rather strong selection bias - every male at BU knew (or should have known) about the skewed ratio before enrolling, so presumably those who enroll are those who aren't troubled by it. Whether BU is losing a significant percentage of those who might otherwise have matriculated is another issue. It's also worth noting that the negative impact most admissions offices really fear is the effect on female applicants of a skewed ratio. The reporter might have done well to talk to some undergraduate women; I would suspect that they aren't nearly so sanguine. It's also interesting to me that BU is facing this sort of problem. Overall, the national skew is 57-43; at BU, it's more like 60-40. Most selective institutions actually do better than the national average, because they have a large surplus of available applicants, so it's noteworthy that BU is doing worse. (The exceptions, of course, are the former women's colleges, which can be highly selective and still badly skewed. But that's not BU.) The disparity is particularly striking because unlike other nationally prominent schools with skews this large, BU actually has an engineering program, which is more than 80% male. I'm curious why that should be. Is it because the ever-ambitious administration at BU is eager to boost the statistical measures of the quality of its student body, and so is less willing than peer institutions to dip lower among its male applicants in order to achieve a measure of balance? BU isn't needs-blind; are fathers of daughters more willing to pay? Or does it have to do with the athletic programs - BU has only 500 varsity athletes out of nearly 20k undergraduates? But if the skewed ratio turned off prospective female students.. wouldn't the 'problem' correct itself over time? Ron: There are a few reasons Ron: There are a few reasons why it wouldn't. For one thing, there's a dearth of alternatives. Less selective institutions often have even worse ratios; most people attending BU are there because it's the best school they got into. But more to the point, there's an enormous number of graduating seniors every year. BU's gender ratio could turn off the vast majority of potential female applicants without seriously impacting their applicant pool. What I was really driving at is that expectations often diverge from reality. If the men at BU are mostly content with the status quo, I think it's still quite possible that a large number of the women there are not pleased with what they found when they actually arrived on campus. One reason that most universities now have lower admissions standards for men than for women, whether or not they choose to admit it, is the impact of skewed ratios on the quality of their female applicants. Admit too many women, and the ones who have the choice of going elsewhere probably will. Admit too many women, and the Admit too many women, and the ones who have the choice of going elsewhere probably will. Where can they go? This topic has been discussed for many years now - everyone knows about it. If there was an option, women would already be taking it. Ratios First, while irrelevant, the undergrad population is 16k, not 20k. Still a big school, but 4k off is still significant. On your main concern,that the 60-40 ratio is turning off the brighter girls, as they may not like the ratio, would take the higher ranked schools. The reason that it is not evident is because they are rejected from the Ivy League and other higher ranked schools. I admit that since I'm a guy, so it is plausible I would hear of any bitterness kept quietly and cannot experience it first hand. However, I still have to doubt how significant 60-40 to the eyes of women. The way you wrote it, you make it sound like that there's a silent bitterness. While you are suspicious how sanguine women are, I am suspicious of how much resentful they are. I believe financial aid/scholarship, reputation, campus setting, location, and other social considerations take a much higher prominence in prospective students than a 60-40 ratio. I suspect the considerations listed above plays a much bigger reason than the imbalanced ratio. We lose students to Harvard because it is Harvard, not because of the 60-40 ratio. Perhaps a few will be turn off, but I think it is relatively small. Also to note, while some people say it is noble to push for a balanced ratio, isn't it noble to choose by talent and accomplishment of the student? Some would find lowering the standard for male students to balance our the ratio also unfair.