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Men Are the New College Minority (theatlantic.com)
73 points by pmalynin 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

From the article:

> Added Maloney: “There’s a lot of attention on empowering girls. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but males are the ones in crisis in education.”

It's no secret here that there is a crisis of masculinity and of men's role in our society.

There are plenty of men at the top, and plenty in powerful positions. Contemporary social justice movements certainly are aware of that. But what they don't account for is this: most mean are _not_ in positions of power, and a lot are living lives in the shadows of underemployment and partnerlessness.

In this environment men get squeezed at both ends: Painted as suspicious and exploitative when successful, but still shamed and unable to find partners when not successful. When people offer compelling messages that resonate with men - take for example Jordan Peterson's message of living honestly, embracing duty and responsibility, and promoting conscientious habits - it is immediately pilloried as regressive or simply horrible. And we end up back where we started: A relative handful of successful men that made it "over the hump", and the rest who live in society's margins with little interest or regard by broader society and increasingly distanced from wealth, mates, and family. There will be fallout still for generations to come.

Having more male teachers in K-12, with a specific need on the earlier years, can help boys stay interested in education longer. 76% of the teachers are female [0], with most of the male teachers teaching in later years. This isn't a silver bullet, and I don't have advice on how to achieve this, but my gut tells me this can help.

Male teachers provide male role models for boys to look up to.

Male teachers have a more personal understanding of what it is to be a boy.

Men and boys communicate differently than women and boys do.

Male teachers show boys that education is something males value enough with their time and attention.


Extremely anecdotal, but has anyone else also noticed an alarming amount of anti-male sentiment in K-12 teachers? Even thinking back to my education, it is pretty clear there was not just a lack of male educators, but also female teachers who simply did not want boys to succeed.

It was an open secret at my school. We knew which teachers were which and passed down the "secrets" of how to exist in certain classrooms. I'm sure there was similar feelings on the other side. When you're young, you tend to only externalize that which impedes you.


I feel like it has been true that many teachers target boys to make them do worse for a long time. I mean, let's be honest, there are always "those people" out there. And it's probably been true for many different groups of students by the way, not just boys. There are probably teachers who don't like Asians, or what if you're hispanic? or... heaven forbid... what if you're black for instance?

But I think, for ALL these students, the more helpful question to answer is, how do we help them to successfully navigate this and other obstacles to their education? Because they are going to run up against it, there's really nothing they can do to avoid hitting that obstacle in today's world.

If we can find an answer to this question, we'd really make progress towards improving outcomes in our educational system.

It's not as anecdotal as you may think.

Here is an article about it from 2015 - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/02/19/...

Interesting. I'm female but I didn't notice that. I did notice a high percentage of male teachers though. We don't seem to have this problem in my province/city. The male to female ratio is about 50/50 on my campus. I wonder how different this would be even cross-province or in the states.

No, in fact I would say the opposite. For example, having a male 5th grade teacher whose primary "fun" interaction with students was through things like playing touch football, playing chess, etc. actives that overwhelmingly appeal to males.

Of those that struggled with coursework it was oftentimes males that received a disproportionate amount of attention from female teachers. While I would say at least part of it was usually due to lack of discipline, the disparity often existed and was noticeable.

I'd have to disagree...

I think this problem exists with all teachers towards different groups of students. Again, it's not just boys affected by this sort of thing, what if you're hispanic and the teacher just doesn't like hispanics?

Burying our heads and saying that the problem doesn't exist won't help us to make progress towards better outcomes. Which is the ultimate goal here.

We need to answer the question of how to help all students successfully traverse these kinds of obstacles? Answering that question and integrating such training into their educational practice will not only help them in class, but it's a skill that I have to believe will serve them well throughout their lives.

I was speaking specifically to the perceived anti-male bias that was so strong that teachers wanted males to fail. That's an incredibly broad statement to make and one that goes further than yours here about general disfavor towards groups.

I agree with everything you said, but wanted to add some more.

Boys behave differently than girls do. Boys need much more rough and tumble play time. These days that's going to result in a call to the police. Not to mention behavior is now a part of your grade, so normal, healthy boy behavior is penalized.

Boys tend to perform better on tests but relatively poorly on homework compared to girls. Grading emphasis has been tilted towards the benefit of girls here.

I want to be clear that I'm not advocating re-masculinizing education. It seems obvious to me that the maximal benefit to society would be a system in which everyone reaches their maximum potential. There must be a third path where boys are still encouraged to be properly socialized while simultaneously not penalized for being boys, and we must be able to do that without harming girls.

Totally agree, some boys (like myself some years ago) learn that they must behave in certain ways, they learn that rough playing is not how a "good boy" behaves, so they are raised believing that they shouldn't be too "rough" in order to be accepted, you should not rise your voice, you should always listen, you must be nice all the time, then you grow up and have a difficult time socializing in high school, then you think how unfair is the world, why the "bad guys" get all the attention even from teachers who are supposed to repeal those behaviors, then you spend your twenties fighting those nice guy impulses, until you learn that you shouldn't care that much, and stop thinking too much about it, then you learn to just be yourself, and start putting yourself first, it takes a long time to realize this stuff by oneself.

Considering the current climate in the West, a man would have to be on Evil Knievel's level of foolhardiness to take a job teaching.

The parent comment shouldn't be downvoted, men definitely do receive an extra level of suspicion when it comes to children, especially younger ones.

Can't say for certain of course, but I believe the downvotes are because parent comment makes a claim without any factual backup or clarification of meaning.

You forgot the most important part: and it wasn't in-line with the "proper" thinking.

People make "claims without any factual backup or clarification of meaning" on HN all day every day, and no one bats an eye provided they are consistent with the proper thinking.

Once you see this, it can't be unseen. But getting to the point of being able to see it is easier said than done, it isn't merely having an alternative political ideology, but rather understanding how the human mind works. But once you've got a good handle on that, things like reading the news are completely different experiences than before.

How so?

There is a certain terrible stigma associated with men in early childhood education [0].


It has been this way even before the current climate. I think it’s more a gender roles thing. Women are seen culturally as caretakers and pre-K and K “education” has a significant babysitting/caretaking role.

> Women are seen culturally as caretakers

Depending on the topic of conversation of course. When the topic changes to, say female representation in corporate board rooms, many of the same people will then say women are indistinguishable from men. And they sincerely believe both,

And this is why living in Western Society circa 2018 feels like living in an insane asylum.

Accusations of molestation or being creepy are much greater risks for men considering the field.

Edit: Oh hell I didn’t realize the climate was this polarized here. I’m just deleting what I can and getting out, I come to HN to avoid this, not embrace it.

Todays headline in my local community is about a female teacher having sex with a 17 year old boy and then harassing him. These situations happen with both genders. But we have also determined that men are predators and women are victims. So this case will either forgotten or seen as an oddity in a moments notice. Flip the genders and it is "See, men are evil!".

I imagine a clean dataset like this would be hard to obtain. How many crimes go unreported? How many true accusations are disbelieved?

You come to HN to avoid reality?

There is also the current political and business climate that is fundamentally opposed to: public education, university and graduate education, and investment in basic research and long-term outlook/planning.

Primary schools are on the front lines of this war and things are about to get very bad with funding.


There are both natural and social differences between men and women and boys and girls.

I know... I was being super, super sarcastic.

Men do not necessarily have to be a teacher to become a role model. Kids at these ages are also doing sports and activities on the weekends, well maybe a small majority is, but it should not be discounted that men can impact children's lives in other very positives ways outside of the classroom too.

Optional weekend activities are (potentially) a tiny percentage of time vs mandated school time. There's really no comparison.

This is slowly getting disproved -- http://freakonomics.com/podcast/when-helping-hurts/

I re-listened to this after your link.

The take away is that intervening in at-risk kids life can lead to both negative and positive outcomes and that it's important to further study which interventions are successful and which are hurtful.

This says nothing about children not at-risk. Furthermore it suggests there is the potential for really powerful intervention programs for at-risk youth.

Basically, if you want to volunteer to help the children please make sure you carefully select which program you help with.

I wish the authors had broken down the statistics better, but on the whole it was refreshing to see a discussion around college not focused on the same few elite private universities. The way we as a culture tell stories about college is so disproportionately affected by those universities that it's hard to really understand things like "student debt" or "rape on campus" -- I forget where I read it, but I believe that the average American college student is involved in a 2-year community college. I think all discussions of "college" need to specify what "college" means: private elite university, private university, public university, community college.

Also, interesting to see how as soon as there is a gender disparity people reach for the "pipeline problem" as the most likely explainer.

College is a poor return on investment right now. I think more women should avoid it too.

The cost of tuition is simply far too high for the real value, of course this differs by majors and degrees. Overall its just not worth the debt load. I think the overall drive to send people to college simply turned it into a a high school diploma 2.0 except now we have soo many kids deep in soul crushing debt.

At the same time jobs are decreasing in value or total to exported labor or automation, we are really having multiple overlapping crises each making the overall domestic situation worse.

It's really concerning. I'm fully expecting a social revolution from the post millennials, whether it leads to good times or hard times, who knows.

But I do know I won't be sending my kids to a university in its current form, I'm hoping Khan Academy becomes the model for replacement.

EDIT: my kids won't be going to college for another 16 years. I highly doubt colleges won't undergo some kind of significant change.

> But I do know I won't be sending my kids to a university in its current form, I'm hoping Khan Academy becomes the model for replacement.

IMHO, that's foolish. Education is too important to rely on unproven stuff Khan Academy.

It's totally their call, but I'm going to do what I can to encourage my kids to go to a reasonably good, but low cost state school.

In the mean time, I'm going to make it known to my state legislators that affordable public college education is my main priority from them.

I strongly disagree. If you judge an education by three factors you can see there are opportunities to receive great ROIs from a college degree.

1) Which degree you receive.

2) Which institution you receive it from.

3) Your total out of pocket expenses for four years. (Tuition + Fees + Living Expenses + Interest - Scholarships - Salaries)

My $55,000 out of pocket degree payed for itself and all opportunity costs in 5 years, and I fully enjoyed my college experience.

I'm glad it worked out for you. Didn't for me. Going to college is probably the worst decision I ever made.

Going to college is more then just being at a place.

I know what going to college is. Save your platitudes.

Parent didn't define college that way, you did.

When did you get your degree ? I recently looked at some college prices out of curiosity my alma matter is now 50,000 per year with 16,000 in other expenses.

I would never have gone there if I had to pay those prices.

Don't look too closely at sticker prices, almost no one pays that.

If you're a high earner, your kids may well pay full sticker price. The whole point of price discrimination is to let poor kids in for less while soaking as much as possible from rich kids.

After doing research I am finding that grants and scholarships are less common than I originally believed.

I did not go to the most prestigious school I was accepted to. I went to a less prestigious school that offered a much better deal. I suspect many students can receive merit based aid by selecting a lower tier school.

What degree did you get? Were there any other things that made you attractive to employers? (Extra-curricular activities, previous experience, leadership ability?)

A science degree. I had an internship my senior year.

What were some of the tasks you did during your internship?

Engineering tasks.

Was there ever a return on investment? The rate of postsecondary attainment has increased substantially over the last 50 years, but incomes have remained essentially stagnant through it all. For there to be return on investment, incomes need to be increasing above the baseline. That does not seem to be happening. The data indicates that people are making about the same amount as they did when they didn't have postsecondary schooling.

Statistically, those who make more than others within a given year are more likely to have degrees, but that is not the same thing as the degree providing a return on investment. People who make more within a given year also tend to drink more alcohol, but that does not mean alcohol provides return on investment either.

The data do not support the claim that "The cost of tuition is simply far too high for the real value...."

From the article:

"People with bachelor’s degrees earn 56 percent more, on average, than people with only high-school educations, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York."

I have seen many variants of this number, but all are in this same ballpark result. People who get bachelor's degrees make a lot more than those without.

Over the course of a lifetime, that really adds up.

I don't think this tells the full story.

There are of course examples of individuals who do very well without a post-high-school degree.

A big part of it, in my view, is how driven the person is. Some people are not very driven. If you're not driven enough to go to (and get through) college, you're probably not driven enough to do much more than low-skill, low-paid work. So taking for argument's sake that statistic is true, it doesn't say anything about cause and effect.

If you're driven to succeed, you'll find a route to success, whether it's college, military, vocational/trade school, self-teaching, or other non-traditional paths.

Be careful with that. "People with bachelor's degrees earn 56% more" does not say the same thing as "People who get a bachelor's degree will earn 56% more." The first is undoubtedly true, but I'm not sure the data supports the latter statement. Incomes have not been rising with increasing college attainment rates. Incomes are quite stagnant.

The knowledge might not be worth the price but a college education tells employers that you are intelligent, hardworking, and willing to conform to expectations - all qualities that employers are very interested in. And that third is really hard to show off in particular by doing something different than what everybody else does.

Maybe don't go to college if you're planning on being an entrepreneur but otherwise I'd recommend it.

> And that third is really hard to show off in particular by doing something different than what everybody else does.

Is this not a little contradictory? According to several sources on the internet, 40% of working-aged Americans have 2+-year college degrees and only 33% have 4+-year college degrees. Going to college is the one that is doing something different than what everyone else does. Not going to college is the norm.

If you look at career earnings for those with just a high school degree compared to those with a 4 year degree, I think it is pretty clear that college does pay off if you pick a decent degree.

Is there any data comparing those with a 4 year degree vs those with a 2 year degree? I'd be interested in seeing that comparison.

Might be because Men are waking up to the reality that they can make more money going to a trade school.

That is probably part of it, but the work they'll be doing is more labor intensive. I was a union electrician/power plant operator for nearly a decade before I finished my degree in CS and took a job as a software developer. I'm not in SV/NY/Seattle so my pay is roughly equal to what I was making as a topped-out Journeyman, but the work is less stressful on the body.

In the trades, after the job was over or I had turned over to the oncoming shift operator, I didn't think about work at all until my next shift, it was great, my off-time was mine. It was much better mentally compared to now where I have to have my phone on me at all times and respond to emails from our customers (granted, my customers or Transmission System and Distribution System operators controlling the electrical grid, so it is pretty critical when the applications experience issues). There are pros and cons of each, with pay being roughly equal (outside of the major tech hubs). Am I glad I switched? Sometimes, but the skilled trades (electrician, pipe-fitter, plumber, HVAC tech, welder, etc.) are definitely a good way to go if you want to learn a useful skill and have a relatively stable middle class life.

If they learn things! That’s a huge if. People in all jobs appear to only want to learn in first five years and the be done. They don’t learn new things. They don’t learn about new products. They just what they always do.

For example how many Floridian contractors know about Bora Care? From my interactions, few. It poisons wood. Termites can’t eat it. In Florida you can charge an extra 1k for a house and permanently protect the home from termites. Few even know to offer as a perk on restoration. Think about it, for $75 plus labor a reno contractor could termite proof your kitchen studs while they redo the walls. Poor training.

I think you're being a bit too sweeping, but your point doesn't apply only to tradespeople at all. The good ones are constantly learning and keeping up with new technology as much as any of us are. The lazy ones don't, and I know plenty of developers who only learn something new when they have to, and expect it to be delivered on a plate in the form of an offsite "training" session.

Home renovation is also where a lot of bottom-feeders end up. It's very easy to do and doesn't require much skill to get into.

> "Home renovation is also where a lot of bottom-feeders end up. It's very easy to do and doesn't require much skill to get into."

When I was talking about skilled trades I was mainly referring to your union/licensed/Journeyman types. We had continued training programs to keep up with latest NEC/NFPA/ASHRAE/ASME changes. We also had the option of teaching at the union hall (all apprentices work normal days and go to training at the hall on Tues/Thurs) to earn a little bit extra money.

I've met good craftsman as well as lazy ones, but like you said, now that I'm a full-time developer, the same still holds in our industry as I'm sure it does in most industries.

While I sympathize somewhat, I suspect (most likely due to my own biases) that there is a strong economic class component to this trend they note. I think it's more likely that wealthier men from wealthier families are more likely to end up enrolled in college than poorer men or men or boys who come from lesser means.

Like everything in America, just focusing on ethnic or gender groups before class doesn't really work to reverse the more real disenfranchisement that exists in society.

Of course that's true (and it's the same for women: higher socio-economic status is positively correlated with college matriculation and graduation across sex and race lines).

But it's always been true, so what changed?

What's changed is that while there are groups advocating for pretty much every group, poor white men are lumped into the same category as rich white men, and are seen as "not needing help" or being a part of the "ruling hierarchy" even though they are poor. I think that is what OP was getting at, that is, by looking first at race/gender, before class, you're alienating a whole group of poor white males that don't see themselves as part of the dominant "white male" narrative. They're struggling just like all the other poor people, but told they "have it good" because they're white, and this is contrary to what they experience day-in and day-out.

What seems to be playing out on college campuses is in stark contrast to what is playing out inside many employers. Our leadership is getting its feet held to the fire to find more qualified female candidates for exec roles, which are dominated by white men. Is this likely to equalize itself over time?

My personal theory probably not. Its looks like small but significant percentage of men are extraordinarily sensitive to economic advantages of different activities.

I think the bitcoin billionaires and millionaires are mostly men, and good evidence of something changing.

The articles' subtitle:

>> Males are enrolling in higher education at alarmingly low rates, and some colleges are working hard to reverse the trend.

This may not be alarming depending on how you weigh the value added by college. Conference of credentials by/for authority vs competence and independence with work.

The main school in the story was originally an all girls school, which I think has an effect now since they only started to promote it to men starting in 2004. I am willing to guess that overall the numbers aren't that bad, with a little bit less men than women.

> Through 21 years running one of the few campus support centers exclusively for men, he said, “I’ve thought it can only get better. But it just has gone nowhere. Not only are there not programs like ours that are supportive of male students, but at most college campuses the attitude is that men are the problem. … I’ve had male students tell me that their first week in college they were made to feel like potential rapists.”

> Added Maloney: “There’s a lot of attention on empowering girls. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but males are the ones in crisis in education.”

We could start by fixing this problem, which seems like it should be one of the easiest to solve. Lets make sure college is not a hostile environment for anyone, including men.

Is it possible that for some women the first weeks on campus they were made to feel like potential rape victims?


We should to teach consent to people of all genders. People erroneously think women can't be rapists, but new data shows female rapists are far more prevalent than most people suspect: http://webshare.law.ucla.edu/Faculty/bibs/stemple/Stemple-Se...

would you say this kind of thing -- x are more likely to y, and should categorically be treated as such -- about any other identity group?

I'm not sure what you mean, could you give me a specific example?

I think the point of the quote is that the majority of rapists are men, but the majority of men aren’t rapists. The original quote was from someone who felt like they were in a male hostile situation.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have a solution other than “don’t do that” because those people are out there, you never know who they are, and it requires constant vigilance.

And how do we discern if the environment is hostile, for example, if there is disagreement amongst men in a women's psych class? Do we decide based on whichever side is larger? Whichever side is louder?

And what if the perceived hostile environment is, in fact, not hostile? What if it is the result of being exposed to new ideas, new group dynamics, an inability to separate oneself from the group they are a member of, breakdown in communication/terminology, etc.?

What if actions taken to improve the environment for one group is felt to be hostile to a different group? Then what?

No, I think this problem is significantly harder than you believe.

> Men may also feel they have more alternatives to college than girls do. “For a lot of my [male] high school friends, it was just too much time,” said Smith, the orientation leader at Carlow. “They were ready to get out. As opposed to a four-year college, they could go to an 18-month [vocational-education] program and make just as much money.”

Seems like something that HN loves to push.

Finally getting that diversity they wanted!

I thought this was an interesting quote: "discourage men from believing a degree is worth the time and money"

I don't think that's so much the case as it is men are shamed and discouraged in popular culture right now and particularly on campus. There are so many women's programs (which I have no problem with), yet how many men's programs are there?

The typical rebuttal is always "man up and take it" or men have an inherent advantage, but what happens when that advantage has actually disappeared? If I attempted to form a men in engineering group when I was a student I would have been sued and expelled for gender bias or sexual harassment or something.

We need to make sure we continue to make men feel valued by society. I think with the 24/7 news cycle and how focused it is on the bad things that some men do (and how all men are subsequently guilty be association) it's no wonder that men are dropping out of society.

Perhaps it is the case that women are just smarter and find education more appealing than their male peers, in aggregate.

Access to higher education for women is still a relatively new thing, historically speaking, so why is it even surprising that the demographics continue to change?

44% men vs. 56% women this fall. What a crisis.

Women used to be the majority of programmers. It's not a crisis if the numbers shift back that way unless it's for the reason most programmers were women before (undervaluing of the work), but the trend is still worth keeping in mind. Demographic shifts take time.

If the pipeline is a problem one way, it's a problem the other way even if it's still close to 1:1.

I think the issue is the inconsistency, or possible double standard, with considering this gap "okay" but similar gaps "not okay" if the genders are reversed.

I'm for equal opportunities (and upbringing and social environment to encourage use of those opportunities) for both genders. I hope others who share that view will be consistent in their application of it.

For example, if as a result of the education imbalance, some day in the future the pay gap is such that men earn 70 cents on the dollar to what women make, are the same people who say "that's not okay" if it's true about women going to say "that's okay" when it's about men? My anecdotal experience leads me to think that might happen.

I suspect that there are many people who would accept a 1% difference without blinking, but would view a 5% difference with concern, and regard a 30% difference as clearly unacceptable.

Trends matter. It's easier to fix 44 to 56 than 40 to 60 or 35 to 65.

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