The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Women outnumber men in higher education enrollment

Courtesy / GVSU

Women now outnumber men at universities across the country and the same is true at Grand Valley State University. Some reasons for this can be attributed to women outperforming men in academics and the relatively higher returns on college education women receive.

A Federal Reserve Study in 2022 echoed this, noting that on average, women saw a 5.3% greater return on investment in their education than men did. While men in this study saw a 63% increase in wages from earning a college degree, women benefited from an even greater return.

This has to do with the work fields women and men typically enter and other factors regarding statistical differences in academic performance between the sexes. If a return on tuition investment is keeping men in more labor-oriented jobs that don’t require degrees, then it makes sense these differences are also reflected at the university level.

For example, GVSU has experienced a higher ratio of female to male students in recent years. The Diversity Dashboard within the GVSU Division of Inclusion and Equity shows females make up roughly 60 percent of the 2023 student population. This leaves the other 40 percent as males, and many students on campus have taken note.

Jackson Heiden, a Journalism, Broadcast, and Digital Media major at GVSU, said he noticed women outnumber men on campus but only if he “really thinks about it.” 

The reasons for GVSU’s unequal ratio of women to men are unclear at this time, but Heiden said he believes there may be some possible explanations upon closer inspections of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.

“GVSU has a very well-known nursing program, and I feel like that degree path is a primarily woman-dominant field, but at the same time I’m sure that field in itself only makes up a small percentage of the campus’ population,” Heiden said.

Heiden believes the difference isn’t functionally significant.

Courtesy / GVSU

“I don’t think it matters too much. I’m sure at one point it was a primarily dominant male campus and things have just fluctuated,” Heiden said. “I personally am not affected either way.”

Others insist they haven’t noticed the unequal numbers as much, at least not in class makeup. Morgan Weststrate, a major in Film and Video Production at GVSU, expressed similar sentiments.

“Specifically in my classes, I have not noticed,” Weststrate said. “There tends to be more males in my major than females, but in my activities outside of academics, I have noticed there is a significant ratio difference between females and males.”

Weststrate said educational alternatives such as trade school may be more popular amongst young men. 

“I think trade schools are desirable because they are more cost and time-effective than your average four-year college,” Weststrate said. “Traditionally speaking, males find trades more appealing than females, although many women are involved with different trades.”

Today, there are a wide variety of labor jobs for corporations available such as Amazon or even app-based side hustles like Uber and DoorDash in addition to traditional trade careers.

“I think more people in general, not just males, are realizing they don’t need to attend a university or college to obtain a career,” Weststrate said.“Obviously there are plenty of factors of why someone may not attend college. It could be for financial reasons, poor performance in school or they’re pursuing a different route such as trades.”

Weststrate said she doesn’t “think college would necessarily be better if the ratio was 1:1.” Weststrate said she believes if the current climate is good for the people involved then the ratio can stay as is. 

“If males are finding what works best for them, what they’re interested in and it’s benefitting the communities around them, then if anything, that should be celebrated,” Weststrate said. “However, females seem to now have the ‘advantage’ in college, but I think they still are still underrepresented in the workplace. In this case, I think it’s more about representation than anything.”

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