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College Experience by Gender

In the Chronicle of Higher Education the president of the College of Saint Benedict lays out some truisms about college life, such as women getting better grades and men more likely to take risks:

Clearly, our conclusions about gender must be nuanced, and we would be wise to suspend assumptions about whether women or men are doing better or worse. But there are other areas where nuance isn't necessary to see that we could be more aggressive as educators in challenging gender-stereotyped choices.

The commentary, however, seems to presuppose that men and women enter college and graduate from college at the same rates. They don't. There are good reasons to be concerned about this.

She worries about gender stereotypes:

For example, in a country with a scientific and technological brain drain, there continues to be a pipeline problem for women in mathematics and the physical sciences.

In a country where the health-care and education systems are deeply challenged, men continue to be underrepresented in the important fields of nursing and teaching. Yet one rarely hears of national efforts to engage more men in these fields.

Again, that seems like intentional naivete. Nurses are important, but let's be real. Countries don't measure their economic competitiveness by the quality of their nursing corps. Maybe they should. But they don't.

We should be worrying about the post-secondary track record of males. And we should be doing far more to encourage more women to become risk taking entrepreneurs, engage the hard sciences, run for public office -- or all three.

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