Why gender ratios on college campuses matter

Women outnumber men on college campuses, and according to research, some of the byproducts of that make finding lasting love an issue.
Dec 10, 2015

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  • Incoming college students and their parents gauge Wi-Fi strength, extracurriculars offered and availability of degrees when choosing a university — but they should also put time into understanding gender ratios, according to Time.

  • That's because the ratio of men to women on campus indicates whether "the dating scene at a particular college is geared more towards wild hookups or traditional relationships," Jon Birger wrote for Time.

  • And Time reported though people might assume this to be the case at mostly male colleges, it's the opposite.

  • " ... (W)hen men are in oversupply, the dating culture emphasizes courtship and monogamy," according to Time. "But when women are in oversupply — as they are today at most U.S. colleges and universities — men play the field and women are more likely to be treated as sex objects."

  • In this situation, "everyone's self-esteem takes a hit," a woman student at the 75 percent female Sarah Lawrence College told Time. And as Time's piece noted, campuses with imbalanced gender ratios now prove normal: The ratio of college graduates in 2013 was 57:43 — four women to three men.

  • By 2023, the U.S. Department of Education expects the ratio to reach three women for every two men, according to Time.

  • New research details the detriments of these unequal ratios, according to The Times of India.

  • In one experiment, 129 college students (82 women, 47 men) read two fake news articles detailing opposite situations — one that the local colleges were more female-prevalent, the other that they were more male-prevalent, The Times of India indicated. Participants then completed a survey.

  • Medical Xpress reported the contrasts.

  • "When the gender ratio was favorable (one's own gender was in the minority), both men and women adopted more traditional sexual roles with women less interested in casual sex than men, according to the study findings," the Medical Xpress piece read. "When the gender ratio was unfavorable (one's own gender was in the majority), those roles shifted as men and women tried to appear more desirable to the opposite sex."

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  • So is there any hope for college-bound young adults who want to involve themselves in traditional dating?

  • My colleague Lois M. Collins reported last year that notions college-age people just want to "hook up" are false; researchers from the University of Portland found "no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would indicate a new or pervasive pattern of non-relationship sex among contemporary college students."

  • And a supposed "hookup culture" might be a myth in itself.

  • According to YourTango.com, 97 percent of Brigham Young University female students and 93 percent of its male students stated they "wanted to eventually walk down the aisle." Also, 41 percent of U.S. college students indicated they feel sad or depressed about casual sex.

  • "So it just goes to show that hookup culture is a great backdrop for a dramatic movie, but in reality most people (would) rather ditch the heartbreak and drama in order to find someone to settle down with," according to YourTango.com.

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Payton Davis is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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