When UT alumna Margaret C. Berry was a student in the 1930s, UT’s student population was male dominated.
“All the girls were prepared to teach,” Berry said about a time when most female students went into education or nursing. “That was just one of the things that you did.”
More than eighty years later, this trend has reversed. In 1967 — the oldest data publicly available about gender ratios at UT — 62.68 percent of the students were male and 37.32 percent of the students were female. Since 2003, the number of female UT students has consistently outstripped the number of male UT students — 2003 was the first year female students outnumbered male students since World War II, according to University data. The most recent data from 2015 shows 51.1 percent of students are female and 48.9 percent of students are male.
The trend not only occurs at UT, but at other colleges and universities across the nation, said David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management.
“This should be an enormous concern,” Laude said. “If our population is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, they should attend college at the same rates. They should enter disciplines at the same rates. That should be what we see — and if we see differences here, we have to ask what the reasons for those differences are and do what we can to fix them.”
However, the top 10 percent rule, which selects students based on their class rank, largely prevents UT from controlling for gender, Laude said.
“We accept students on whether they’ve graduated in the top 10 percent of their class,” Laude said. “There are not currently any procedures in place to influence on the basis of gender.”
Berry, who helped search for daycare in the 1960s to help older women with children attend UT, said she was glad more women have the opportunity to go to college and major in traditionally male-dominated fields like engineering.
“[Women] can afford to go to college — it’s very expensive — but they can have daycare for their children and have good jobs and do well,” Berry said. “It’s good for [men and women] to compete, but I don’t want them to be so good that the men don’t go too. I don’t want the men to drop out.”
Jordan Pahl, Middle Eastern studies and Plan II senior, said she hasn’t noticed significantly more women than men on campus, but said some departments on campus, such as computer science, need to be more accommodating to women.
“While it’s good we have this good [gender] ratio, if the climate isn’t conductive to women being successful or appreciated, then it really doesn’t do much,” Pahl said. “It would be great if that was the next thing we could address.”
Admissions data shows that more female than male students have been applying to and been accepted to UT in recent years. Bukoski said more women are going to college to earn the credentials they need to receive gainful employment.
“A glass ceiling is still present in the workforce, and because of that, women often need more credentials and more degrees to get recognized and get positions that they want,” Bukoski said. “Women are often attending and getting more degrees because they need to, because they’re required to, because of sexism that is present in the workforce.”