Monday, April 6, 2009

Where Have All The Young Men Gone?

There are a number of interesting stats floating around about universities lately. A lot of these have to do with the demographics of various regions and enrollment projections. The demographic cohort from which university students have traditionally been drawn is shrinking. Given that the majority of a university’s expenditures are based on personnel on long term contracts any drop in revenues will have significant budgetary impacts, particularly if universities aren’t allowed to run deficits.

There have also been a lot of different stats about the current make up of student bodies floating around. These stats started to catch my interest. There’s something really interesting going on in our educational institutions that nobody is talking about. According to the CAUT Almanac only 41.9% of the 692, 374 undergraduate (FTE) students are male. The Canadian population from ages 18 to 24, the age bracket from which most university students are drawn, is 51.17% male. There are 3,141,406 people in this age group. So what are the odds that the university proportion is a random sample of the broader population? Effectively zero. The test statistic doesn’t even appear on standard tables. In fact it’s way off the charts.

So what does this tell us? In the most neutral possible terms, university population is not a random sample of the broader population in terms of sex. Or less neutrally, but equally accurate, something happens in the selection of the university population that favours females. I’m left wondering what that something is, or as Pete Seger put it, where have all the young men gone?

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