Where have the men gone?

Fewer male students are enrolling in higher education

By Jo Early

Online Editor

There are nearly twice as many  women enrolled at Amarillo College this semester compared to men, according to the AC Decision Analytics and Institutional Research dashboard. 

For the past five years, the graduation rate has been around 60% women and 40% men. These numbers are not unique to AC; nationwide, men are not attending and graduating from higher education institutes at the same rate as women, and the gap increased further during the pandemic. 

“Even though some role expectations are changing, the ‘old’ expectations still prevail,” Dr. Elizabeth Rodriquez, a psychology professor, said. “Men are supposed to be the providers. I do believe that many males are leaving high school and entering the job force to help the family, whether it be their own family or parents’ family,” she said.

In addition to the pressure of traditional gender roles, studies show that while women are more eager to pursue higher education, men remain behind in educational readiness. 

“Gender equality has opened the door for women to seize the opportunity to pursue a college education when they may not have had that chance in previous generations, and the reading comprehension rates of males in early education has not improved, meaning the male ‘college readiness’ percentage has remained unchanged while more women pursue college opportunities,” Cassie Montgomery, director of outreach services, said.

Infographics by Shawn McCrea | The Ranger

The lack of male students is a cause for concern according to Bob Austin, vice president of enrollment management.

“If there are young men who would otherwise qualify to be enrolled in college, but are choosing not to go into higher education, it effects the bottom line for the college,” Austin said. “We are missing part of the population.”

Younger generations question the purpose of higher education and may require more concrete incentives to attend, according to Rodriquez. 

“If we want more men in college, then we need to show the relevancy of a higher degree,” Rodriguez said. “For a long time, students, children and individuals listened and did what they were told because that is what you do, but the newer generations have to know why they are doing what they are being asked to do; what is the purpose. I believe that if we can give people a defined purpose, we may see the numbers shift.”

Montgomery pointed out that current data may not reflect the true gender identities of students, and therefore could be inaccurate. 

“There are students who do not identify as male or female,” she said. “That could be skewing the data a bit as well, where we may have less females, or more, than we think we do, represented in our data. Nonbinary students are misrepresented when we whittle our data down to just male and female, so that’s at least something to consider in this conversation.”

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