Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Affirmative Action--for Men?


An interesting article from Inside Higher Ed explores the ramifications of affirmative action for men. The catalyst for this piece was an editorial in the New York Times chronicling the experience of an admissions officer at Kenyon College. In the article, Jennifer Delahunty Britz highlights the growing gender imbalance in higher education, leading to the proposal: Should affirmative action be used to reverse the trends?

Inside Higher Ed, Katha Pollitt, Jennifer Delahunty Britz, and many others in this debate fail to comprehend the real problem. Affirmative action is a band-aid in light of the real problems in education. If male applicants are not being accepted, then there is a problem present long before the college admissions process. It may be harder to solve, but we must answer the real questions: Why are boys lagging behind girls in elementary school? Why are fewer men applying to college? Why do women make stronger candidates? (Many of these questions are raised in a 2/6 blog entry: Sexism in the Classroom)

Awarding extra points to men to balance out gender demographics is going to solve nothing. Sure, it’ll increase the percentage of men at a college, but at the expense of more worthwhile candidates. Meanwhile, problems in elementary and secondary education will continue to be ignored and boys will fall farther and father behind and need more and more points to get into college. That says nothing of the quality of education students at such a school will receive, since the quota-men will be sub par. Not for years will the real problems be unearthed, but who knows how bad the situation will be by then.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review