Women now make up an increasing proportion of the student body across America, in part driven by “woke” enrollment policies aimed at improving gender equality. Data from National Student Clearinghouse shows female students accounted for 59.5% of all university and college enrollments in spring 2021, compared to just 40.5% that were men.
Jennifer Delahunty, a college enrollment consultant, told the Wall Street Journal that efforts to redress the balance have become “higher education’s dirty little secret” of reversing recent affirmative action programs that have favored women. However, even as student bodies become increasingly female, colleges are afraid to advocate for male students for fear of falling foul of gender politics.
See below the summary data from this report.
According to the Daily Mail, some admissions experts are voicing concerns about the long-term impact of this trend on the male population, as college graduates can expect to earn more than a million dollars more than those educated to high-school diploma level over the course of their working lives.
So this causes one to ask a few questions relative to the shape of our society and this trend data.
- Will men be content to sit back, make less money, have women bosses, or better yet, let the woman do all the work at home and at the workplace while becoming a couch potato playing online games all day? Or …
- As this recent data implies, men will leave the universities to “do something else,” leaving college life as a woman-only thing.
With a more disproportionate number of women going into colleges, it would be quite normal for colleges to begin to cater to more things that interest women – they are their customers, after all. Women tend to be more social and empathetic than men. Hence courses and degrees that cater to this would be logical, though, at the same time, college prepares people to work in our society and economy. Could this explain part of the rise of the “woke” environment we see today?
One idea for women to work in is ESG. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.
ESG sounds really “oowie and chewy” for women – very “woke.”
Business responds with headlines like – PwC plans to hire 100K people, invest $12b in major ESG “Rebranding.” Big 4 firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY, and KPMG) are raising sustainability issues within longstanding practices such as in their audit and assurance business. Sources say ESG is being given “greater prominence within their businesses.” Ultimately, the pressure to change is coming from regulators. As regulators in Europe and the US discuss standardizing ESG disclosures akin to the international accounting rules agreed decades ago, the firm believes that all PwC staff need “a baseline understanding” of ESG, according to US Chair Tim Ryan. Wow, lots of jobs, but do note that this market is mostly government-induced.
But at the end of the day, businesses are about making products and services that people really want. Do you really want to pay for a 6-pack of ESG at the supermarket? Putting an ESG tax on products will raise prices by launching thousands of ESG programs and consultants that sounds a bit scammy.
Consequently, the “woke – the king has no clothes” moments are showing up. Bloomberg is reporting that the SEC has launched yet another investigation to try and ascertain just how much of the $35tn ESG industry is stocked with “dubious” funds selling assets with little or nothing to qualify them as “green.” The SEC has been demanding that money managers explain the standards they use for classifying funds as ESG-focused.
Of course, “woke” businesses are not only for women. Men will participate at least on the margins. What of those men that are “do something else.” Many are choosing to go directly into the trades and/or start businesses on their own. Typically men are involved in more start-ups than women. Take a look at this list of CEOs that are not college degreed, and notice the gender demographics – mostly men. Perhaps the idea of making more money with a university degree, after subtracting the costs, may not be the ticket to a good financial future as it once was thought.
Universities and colleges are businesses too. If they produce many degreed people who are not useful in business, they may lose relevancy – and future enrollment revenues. Hence, they may have to rethink some of their affirmative action policies as well as the degree programs they produce.
The National Association of Scholars recently published a report by Neetu Arnold, “Priced Out: What College Costs America,” which finds, among other things, that an undergraduate degree is now prohibitively expensive for many Americans, who have turned to the federal government to subsidize their education. Arnold suggests, college costs aren’t directly related to students or education but rather primarily to professional administration to comply with the growing number of “woke” federal regulations and accreditation reporting requirements.
Universities and colleges that fail or refuse to adapt and evolve could face a grim future. Or, worse, no future at all.
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