25% Fewer Men Than Women Graduate College; Obama: It's ‘A Great Accomplishment ... For America'

June 24, 2012 - 9:18 AM

President Barack Obama, Barnard College

President Barack Obama at the commencement ceremony for Barnard College in New York City, May 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(CNSNews.com) - In an op-ed published Saturday in Newsweek, President Barack Obama marked the 40th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX--which bars gender discrimination in education—and noted that more women in the United States are now graduating from college than men, which he characterized as “a great accomplishment” for the nation.

“In fact, more women as a whole now graduate from college than men,” Obama wrote. “This is a great accomplishment—not just for one sport or one college or even just for women but for America. And this is what Title IX is all about.”

According to the Census Bureau, 685,000 men and 916,000 women graduated from college in 2009 (the latest year for which statistics have been published). That means 25 percent fewer men received college degrees than women.

The language of Title IX is straight forward. It says: “No person in the United States, shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As interpreted and implemented by the Department of Education, this rule applied to all parts of any school that received any amount of federal aid, including through government-backed loans to its students.

“It is important to note that, under Title IX, the receipt of any amount of federal financial assistance is sufficient to trigger the broad nondiscrimination obligation embodied in the statute,” the Congressional Research Service explains in a background paper on the law and its implementation. “This nondiscrimination obligation extends institution-wide to all education programs or activities operated by the recipient of the federal funds, even if some of the education programs or activities themselves are not funded with federal dollars.”

In explaining how the law would be applied to college athletics, the Department of Education issued regulations that said a school must aim at having a “proportionate” number of female students in intercollegiate sports, or show a “history and continuing practice of program expansion” for female athletes, or “demonstrate that the interests and abilities” of female students “have been fully and effectively accommodated.”

In the nationwide collegiate class of 1975, which started college before Title IX was implemented, the males graduating from college outnumbered females, 505,000 to 418,000--meaning 17 percent fewer women graduated than men.

By 1985, according to Census Bureau data, the number of women graduating from college each year was outstripping the number of men. In that year, about 497,000 women graduated from college and 483,000 men. That gave women a margin over men of almost 3 percent.

In every year since 1985, according to the Census Bureau, women have outnumbered men in graduating from college, with women dramatically expanding their advantage over men in receiving college diplomas to the 25 percent advantage they achieved in 2009.

In his Newsweek op-ed, President Obama said Title IX helped America ensure what he called “equal education.”

“Well, 40 years ago, committed women from around the country, driven by everyone who said they couldn’t do something, worked with Congress to ban gender discrimination in our public schools,” Obama said. “Title IX was the result of their efforts, and this week, we celebrated its 40th anniversary—40 years of ensuring equal education, in and out of the classroom, regardless of gender.”