The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday January 24th

Study to look into uneven gender ratio

Women make up bulk of students

A 60 to 40 female to male ratio worries more than the women dealing with a lot of competition for a boyfriend.

The disproportionate gender distribution is a nationwide trend. Some universities with ratios similar to UNC’s could be taking steps to make their student body more gender balanced.

 A study being conducted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating whether male students are getting preferential treatment in college admissions to balance the high number of females enrolling.

The issue centers on a federal law commonly known as Title IX, which prevents public universities and colleges from considering gender in admissions decisions. The law was initially created to ensure females had equal access to higher education and athletics.

Title IX does not apply to private colleges, unless they are professional schools or technical institutions.

 Researchers will be looking at public and private colleges and universities within 100 miles of Washington, D.C., where the commission is headquartered.

They don’t know whether they’ll find anything to back up the concerns, said Lenore Ostrowsky, acting chief for the commission’s public affairs unit.

The “FY 2010 Project on Sex Discrimination in Higher Education Admissions,” was proposed by Commissioner Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego, Ostrowsky said.

Heriot was intrigued by accusations that have arisen about private schools discriminating against female students in order to maintain their gender balance.

“Some commentators have called this an ‘open secret’ and suggested the same may be occurring at state schools too (where it would be illegal),” Heriot wrote in the proposal.

Heriot said the question of discrimination can be answered, but determining how gender ratios affect individual students’ enrollment decisions might be more difficult.

“It’s not easy to definitively answer such a question, but we can try to poll students,” Heriot said.

The list of schools for the first round of the study has not yet been made public, Ostrowksy said.

If the study finds any cause for concern in the first group of schools, the commission will begin investigations elsewhere, she said.

The commission is legally only allowed to subpoena schools within a 100-mile radius of where the hearings for the research are held, so it would have to travel in order to get a national understanding of the issue.

Stephen Farmer, associate provost and director of undergraduate admissions at UNC, said the gender ratio at the University has been 60 to 40 in favor of females since the early 1980s, but UNC has not made any attempts to change or maintain it.

This keeps it in compliance with the Title IX legislation.

“It’s not something that makes a difference at all in the admissions decisions we make about any candidate,” Farmer said.

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