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Dan King

I think Prof. Becker and most commenters miss an important point. Men are surely more competitive than women; after all, they are competing against each other for female favors. And women judge men, in part, by the size of their wallet, so for men earnings are much more important than for women. On the other hand, grades probably don't matter much in the getting laid sweepstakes. This explains two phenomena: why men earn more, and why their grades tend to be lower.

Here is another issue that Becker has ignored. It may be that a college education is less economically important than it used to be. Quoting statistics that correlates earnings with education misses the point, for no cause and effect relationship follows. It may be that richer people prefer to get educated.

To illustrate my point, look at the advertising that liberal arts colleges put out to recruit students: Bennington College is an excellent example. Study in Castles in Europe; be part of the Drama Club; Make Friends -- this is all stuff for the future princesses of America. No wonder the guys aren't interested.

Bottom line: colleges today serve a recreational purpose as much as an economic one. And since women have more time for recreation, and wish to get more out of it, it is no surprise that they both dominate and excel.


I have to agree with Haris. I've seen several articles about just how important the gender ratio is in forming an undergraduate admission class. Once a school gets beyond a certain point -- for some reason I recall about 55% female to 45% male -- men tend to flee, and then, in turn, women will flee as well.


Great, this comment thread is drawing out the arm-chair social-darwinists. Men should earn more because they are from Mars, and women are from Venus. They don't need schools on Venus because it is too hot there.


Corey, If you want a female perspective on the subject, You might want to check out the American Association of University Women (AAUW)or the Womens Center at Wellesley College under the subject "Gender Wars". It will give you a much more rational perspective than the "pop-culture" view espoused in "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus".


I didn't notice anyone trying to justify paying men more simply because they're men. I think most people are okay with the idea of paying men more when it's merited. Given the biological realities, most employers are willing to pay men more because, all other things being equal, men can't get pregnant and will never miss time for that reason. As a result, men are less risky to employ. My favorite example of this is in sports. Most major sports leagues have no rule barring women, but there still are no women in those sports. Imagine for a moment a woman who in a particular sport at a particular position had identical qualifications as a man - identical workout results, identical college statistics against identical competition, identical injury history. A team would be foolish to pay identical money to these two players, because, other risks being identical, the male player is at no risk of missing any portion of a season due to pregnancy. I don't think it's discrimination to pay these two people differently, and that seems to be what people on this board are advocating.


(1) the motivation for women to perform better in school is due to the unfair treatment at the work place. You have to be 3X better in order to compete with men. Let's be realistic, no fairness in the world. Bias always exist.
(2) On the otherhand, the high score at school may not translate to the real capability. Especially, hands on experiences.
(3) Men, born with short attention span, may exhibit broader interests of the subject. Many of the real "top students" are not No. 1, but top 3-5 in the ranking with many OTHER interests. I did observe a MIT student focus on a demo product for 10 min. and try to pull it apart.. with questions range from software, hardware, control, material, electrical, chemical, etc. very broad range of questions, you will almost hardly get them from a women student.
(4) Women, by the nature of good manager, do have different view point compare to Men. Some good points outlined in "Pacifism as a Map" by U. Franklin, "will women change technology, or will technology change women?'


Since men engineered the tools and instituions establishing societies -- not to mention all the public "dirty jobs" that need to be done daily -- it's only befitting that men get paid more.

Women would and could earn more than men if they too would create new jobs and industries fit for women, thereby advancing societies by not having to compete in jobs fit for men.


Prof. Drake:

Jimbino is insane and a libertarian. He's impervious to reason. You'll have better luck reasoning with a baboon.


I definitely have to agree that female college students take college much more seriously than male. From my own limited experience, I knew almost no male college students who took college as seriously as the average female student I knew. At the same time, there was no such male deficiency in intellectual ability, curiosity, or creativity. They just lacked the bullheadedness to show up every single day at 9 am to classes that they hated. If these studies could be controlled for attendance, I doubt there would be any gap. I think it had something to do with the fact that the guys took longer to adjust to the freedoms of college life, and they also became very impatient and bored with school and seemed to have more problems with depression. In fairness, my experiences tended to be with the best and the brightest at a top 50 school. I don't know how much this relates to other groups. As to schools discriminating against women, my experience was that the falling down of men's grades in college did not correlate to diminished grades in high school. Top of their class, industrious kids got to college, got bored, lost direction, and slacked off.


Jimbino ~

My goodness you have a lot of resentment. I have to agree with a previous comment that you probably didn't make Law Review and rather than accepting your own failure, it's easier to accuse your female classmates of sleeping with their professors. Regardless, you must have a difficult time getting lucky with women. Perhaps you should buy yourself one of those life-size rubber dolls with a lubricated vagina.


Jimbino ~

I understand your jealousy. There are of course a number of advantages to being female: We obtain Ivy League educations but we quit our jobs once the children arrive; Our husbands provide material comforts through hard-work and long hours at the office; When we get a flat tire, we wait in our cars for a friendly police officer to come along and change it for us; We can have ten orgasms for every one that a man has. I wonder if gender reassignment is an option for you? "I always felt like I was a woman trapped in a man's body," you'll say at your weekly support group.

Jonathan Zell

In this blog, Judge Posner correctly notes that "alumni children are favored by college admissions officers (largely for financial reasons -- admitting alumni children increases expected donations by alumni)." In other words, universities that favor alumni children in admissions do so out of a belief that this will result in kickbacks being paid to the universities by the alumni whose children are admitted.

Indeed, according to the book "Admissions Confidential" written by former Duke Univ. admissions officer Rachael Toor, this quid pro quo is often stated explicitly. For example, Ms. Toor explains that, after Duke enrolls otherwise academically-unqualified students from wealthy families (whether alumni or not), Duke then informs the parents of the favortism that had been given their children in admissions and specifically solicits a financial donation from them in return. Although the parents have no legal obligation, of course, most feel a moral one and donate accordingly.

Like all forms of corruption, these kickbacks benefit only the parties involved and are otherwise economically inefficient for society as a whole. This is especially true given that graduates of prestige universities are granted preferences in employment and graduate-school admissions (where legacy admissions also exist). Thus, just as selling high grades would distort the market, so too does selling elite-college admissions. So, why then does Judge Posner defend the right of private universities to sell university admissions?

In his July 15, 2006 comment titled "Women's Academic Performance," Judge Posner stated: "Like Becker, I view affirmative action as a matter of choice for colleges and universities, at least when the institutions are private rather than public. Higher education is highly competitive, and I am reluctant to have the government tell its institutions what policies are best. Academic freedom implies a high degree of academic autonomy, including autonomy in the administration of the institutions of higher education."

The only qualification Judge Posner gave was a personal one. He said: "Personally, however, I would like to see a few of the top colleges abolish all preferences unrelated to academic merit -- no athletic scholarships, no affirmative action, no favoritism for the children of professors or of major donors, and no legacy admissions. That would be a useful experiment in the benefits and perhaps costs of meritocracy. It would have the incidental effect of giving us a better idea of the extent of real differences across race and gender in academic capability."

The distinction that Judge Posner draws between public and private universities is not a valid one, especially given that all elite private universities rely on tens of millions of dollars of government grants and their students rely on millions of dollars of government-sponsored financial aid. For example, should a private university that accepts huge amounts of federal funds be legally allowed to sell or give otherwise unearned high grades to the children of wealthy donors or alumni just because it is not a wholly government-funded institution? This is not a facetious question. Universities that give preference to the wealthy in admissions probably also do so (albeit to a lesser degree) in awarding grades and other academic honors.

Similarly, Judge Posner's separating of his personal policy preferences from what he thinks the law is or should be is another specious distinction.

So, yes or no, Judge Posner: Do you favor the economic analysis of the law only when it benefits the politically-powerful in society? If not, are you willing to denounce the selling of undergraduate and graduate-school admissions at private universities?


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