Admission Rates Lower for Female Applicants

Getting accepted to an elite college has never been more difficult, especially for women.

To all the young women who got admitted last year, Great job! You really earned it.

Why? Because one of academia’s little-known secrets is that private college admissions are exempt from Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination—a shameful loophole that allows some of the most supposedly progressive campuses in the nation to discriminate against female applicants.

Consider Brown University. In 2014, 11 percent of men were accepted at Brown versus 7 percent of women, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Brown is hardly the only, or the worst, offender.  At Vassar College, the 34 percent acceptance rate for men was almost twice as high as the 19 percent rate for women. At Columbia University, the acceptance rate was 8 percent for men versus 6 percent for women. At Vanderbilt University, it was 15 percent versus 11 percent. Pomona College: 15 percent versus 10 percent. Williams College: 21 percent versus 18 percent. This bias in private-college admissions is blatant enough that it can’t be long before “gender-blind admissions” becomes the new campus rallying cry.

Colleges won’t say it, but this is happening because elite schools field applications from many more qualified women than men and thus are trying to hold the line against a 60:40 ratio of women to men. Were Brown to accept women and men at the same rate, its undergraduate population would be almost 60 percent women instead of 52 percent—three women for every two men.

For students who attend public colleges and universities, the playing field is more level. Admissions at state schools are regulated by Title IX, which bans sex discrimination at undergraduate programs receiving federal funding. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office, “public coeducational undergraduate institutions … must not discriminate on the basis of sex in admissions.”

Given that girls generally outperform boys in high school—girls earn better grades and account for 70 percent of valedictorians—you’d expect acceptance rates for women to be higher than for men. Indeed, women are admitted at higher rates at such top public universities as U.C. Berkeley, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and UVA. At the University of Georgia—which, in 1999, lost a legal challenge to its old practice of awarding extra points to male applicants—women are now accepted at a 57 percent rate versus 53 percent for men.

Source: Why getting into elite colleges is harder for women, Jon Birger, Washington Post, July 2015