The ratio of women to men on campus is one of the first things I learned about when I was applying to JMU. The first thing people usually said was “wow, that’s such a party school”, quickly followed by “wow, there are so many girls there.” While the comment about JMU’s reputation as a party school is debatable (and needs another blog post entirely), the fact is, yeah, a lot of women go here. So what? It doesn’t bothered me, and the only place I really notice more women than men is in my English classes, where there are more women than men as english majors. Furthermore, JMU was originally a women’s college, so doesn’t it make sense that there are more women than men?
Although the female:male ratio doesn’t bother me, it does bother many people on campus. For example, in a recent Her Campus blog, the author names JMU’s guy-girl ratio as one of the Top 10 Most Annoying Things At JMU. She states, “We were warned. As prospective students our Student Ambassador tour guides told us about this unfortunate fact, and as first years we were informed of the 60/40 ratio yet again.” In the paragraph, she going on to elaborate about the difficult dating world for many women at JMU. Of course, this is just one writer’s opinion, but the statement really irked me. Is the ratio of women to men at JMU that annoying? And, in a school of 18,000+, is it even that noticeable?
I decided to look further into the ratio of women to men at JMU and other universities around the country. Here are the numbers: According to the JMU admissions website, in our undergraduate student body of 18,297, 60% of the students are female, while 40% are male. However, that statistic is not unique to JMU–The fact is, more women are attending college than men. According to the Pew Research Center in 2014, ” the share of young women enrolled in college immediately after high school had increased to 71%, but it remained unchanged for young men at 61% [where it was in 1994].” As for the average of females to males in general, Forbes magazine stated in 2012 that, on the national scale, public universities have a female/male ratio of 56.4/43.6, with not-for-profit institutions at 57.5/42.5 and all private schools at 59.3/40.7. Clearly, the trend of more women attending college than men is not unique to JMU.
If you didn’t read all of those numbers, the most important thing to know is that there are more women than men going to college in general, with the exception of some top-tier ivy league schools. Looking at the US in general, the numbers of women going to college should be celebrated. Isn’t that one of the main issues that second-wave feminists were fighting for? The right to equal education for women? Frankly, I’m proud to be attending a school that grants many women admission, and to live in a country that allows women to go to college at all. So, please, stop complaining about the ratio of women to men at JMU. I get that it can be hard to find someone to date, but there are bigger issues at hand.
As I was writing this piece, a few further questions came tomind. First, how does the ratio of collegiate women to men reflect in minorities? I stumbled upon a bit of this information in my research, and from what I saw, the ratio of minority women to men attending college is even greater than the general ratio. Second, how is the ratio of women to men reflected in various major programs? As I stated earlier, I’m an english major, and there seems to by way more women than men in my classes. But how does that reflect on other majors, such as STEM programs? Third, looking at university administration, there are typically more men than women. Why is that? Focusing on JMU alone, of the 9 people on the Senior Leadership Team, 3 are women. And, of the 6 presidents in the history of James Madison University, none have been women. I’m proud and greatful that so many women are attending college, and I would love to see that trend translate into the senior leadership at universities as well.