UVa’s Undergraduate Female/Male Demographics vs. Diversity, Equity and Federal Law

UVa President Jim Ryan

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Virginia measures its diversity efforts by statistics. We’ll hold them to their own standards.

That seems only equitable.

President Ryan has said that the demographic composition of students is easy to measure. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office, proving him right, proudly displays a Diversity Dashboard.

All eyes, including their own, go to race.

But we’ll look at sex. And we’ll remember the requirements of Title IX of the 1972 Federal Education Amendments.

no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

It is demonstrable statistically that males are woefully underrepresented in the undergraduate population of the University of Virginia at rates inexplicable by chance.

We will examine as potential root causes the skewed demographics of:

  • the undergraduate student population on the one hand; and
  • the Undergraduate Admissions Office and Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights on the other.

And then we will see if we can identify any other potential causes of those discrepancies.

It won’t go well.

The demographic evidence.

Undergraduate Student Demographics. Undergraduate total population is 16,555;  7,279 males and 9,276 females; 56% women and 44% men.

Statewide statistics from the Census Bureau show that of Virginians attending public colleges and graduate schools in 2021, 54% were women.

In 2022, females were estimated to make up 50.5% of Virginia’s population.

Virginia’s Secretary of Education ought to examine all of the Virginia public university female/male demographic statistics and programs.

I’ll tackle UVa here briefly.

The evidence we have for the undergraduate demographics at UVa includes:

Black undergraduates. To switch one moment to a discussion of race and sex, click undergraduate student details and note that there are 741 African American female and only 434 African American male undergraduates.

Four hundred and thirty four Black males out of 16,555 students. Two point six percent.

The entire situation surrounding Black representation in UVa’s undergraduate schools is a disgrace that must be fixed by improving their K-12 educations.

Perhaps the Ed School, famous for endless doctrinal seminars on antiracism, can conduct one on better ways to educate poor young minority males and invite NYC’s Success Academy to present how they do it.

Just once.

Evidence, as President Ryan told the BOV, that is “harder to measure.” Let’s try to guess root causes, other than the overwhelmingly dominant female population of the Undergraduate Admissions and OEOCR offices, of the significant sex disparities among UVa undergraduates.

Let’s consider the possibilities that males, more than females:

  • just don’t want to go to college in general or UVa in particular;
  • don’t study as hard in high school;
  • don’t do as well on standardized tests as females;
  • spend all their time playing sports in high school and aren’t good enough for the NCAA teams;
  • are pushed into the school-to-blue-collar pipeline;
  • just wouldn’t fit in except for weekends (see toxic masculinity and rape below);
  • exhibit, or are assessed as hiding, toxic masculinity somehow indicated by some combination of their admissions packages, recommendations or interviews. (Except, of course, for potential varsity athletes, in whom aggressiveness is valued);
  • are twice as likely to own a gun;
  • are more prone to crime;
  • are way more prone to violence against women, rape in particular.(No statistics are available for violence against men.)

Come up with as many as you can for your own list. And then test your list to see if it would stand up to examination if you substituted race for sex.

You know the answer to that.

Bottom line. This situation demands the metaphor “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.”

Dr. Ryan has written that universities will only be able to achieve true greatness by living their values. He wants UVa to “cultivate the most vibrant community in higher education.”

Then we must ask why an undergraduate student body 56% female at UVa did not merit mention in President Ryan’s recent DEI paper. Or in the DEI presentation of his administration to the BOV.

Virginians would really like to know. We would also like to know what the University is going to do about it.

President Ryan wrote, about equity:

How far a college goes to remove barriers to success will always be subject to debate, but the basic idea should not be controversial.

It is not controversial. What is the University going to do to remove barriers to the  success of males?

The overwhelmingly female composition of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the OEOCR (irony alert: OEOCR enforces Title IX) are statistically demonstrated barriers to male applicants being admitted to the University.

That can and must be mitigated on an urgent deadline.

Simultaneously, the University needs to self-report its failures to the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and reach out for help.

Title IX is no joke. The DOE OCR enforces Title IX and it:

provides technical assistance to help institutions achieve voluntary compliance with the civil rights laws that OCR enforces. An important part of OCR’s technical assistance are partnerships designed to develop creative approaches to preventing and addressing discrimination.

An outreach program to male high school students in the Commonwealth is clearly necessary. When will it begin?

What other initiatives can we watch for from the University?

Finally, but importantly, the failed male applicants to the University deserve an apology. From its President.

See how this works?