Women's Economic Role--Posner's Response to Comments
There were some excellent comments on my posted comment of a couple of weeks ago, which I have been slow in responding to. One commenter pointed out that a possible reason for colleges to favor male applicants is that there is greater variance in performance among men than among women, and so, in the words of the commenter, "colleges, especially the good ones, tend to be risk-takers in admission, since it is disproportionately valuable for them to get the very top students." Another comment points out that a college may want to admit a certain minimum number of men in order to provide more dating opportunities for women. Maybe there is a tipping phenomenon at work as well--that if there are too few men, male applications drop because men don't want to be thought attending a "women's college."
A number of comments expressed puzzlement with the proposition that the higher average grades of women could signify discrimination in favor of men rather than of women. The puzzlement is understandable because of a typo: in the third line of my post, for which I apologize: "men" should be "women." The easiest way to understand the point is to imagine that the average woman's grade point average is an A and the average man's a D. Then it would be evident that the college was discriminating in favor of men, because it was admitting D men in preference to A or B women (I say "or B" to allow for the possibility that the college has admitted all its A applicants)
Another comment pointed out that if there is discrimination in the job market, women will have a stronger incentive than men to get good grades in order to improve their job-market prospects. Anti-Semitism has been thought a factor in pushing Jews to excel in their studies.