by Kevin Whitehead
Ladies first, as the saying goes. This year, freshman females outnumber the freshman males by a three to two ratio, and it is having an effect on students’ social lives.
In every year since 2007, the ratio of women to men has increased slightly, reaching 60-40 this year. Nationally, women account for about 56 percent of college students, a percentage that has been consistent for the past five years, according to census statistics.
This year, the number of female freshmen on the Lawrenceville campus totals 602, a 13.6 percent increase since 2005.
The imbalance between males and females at Rider has affected social life to some degree on campus. There are four social sororities compared to the two social fraternities, and Greeks are affected by the disproportionate numbers.
“For the most part, when girls go out, they go to guy’s places,” said senior Mike Zilly, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon. “As far as Greek life goes, it limits which fraternity guys you want to hang out with because there are only two choices [SPE and TKE].”
The female to male ratio is also noticed in the dating scene. More women on campus leaves the male population with more options, but many females are noticing a shortage of men.
Junior Rebecca Kornblum, a sister in Phi Sigma Sigma, believes that the four social sororities on campus are dispropotionately affected by the trend.
“[The number of females] affects [dating] because there are twice as many females as males, so obviously females are going to be left out,” Kornblum said, referring to the situation faced by her sorority sisters.
The social sororities on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus often have date nights, and Kornblum thinks the shortage of fraternity men poses a challenge.
“Before I went Greek, I came to a Phi Sigma Sigma date night with a girl because she had no male date to bring with her,” she said. “She wanted to go, but she didn’t want to go alone.”
Kornblum believes that the university should consider bringing a few more social fraternities to campus for a more balanced Greek social life.
“It’s understandable why they haven’t brought more Greek life [to Rider], but that’s something they can monitor,” she said.
Not all of the females on campus have observed problems with the university’s male-to-female ratio.
“I never really noticed anything,” said junior Steph Foran. “Maybe I’m just oblivious, but I always thought there were a lot of guys on campus.”
Freshman Hailey Duran feels that, while the disparity is noticeable, it is not a big deal.
“[There are] more girls in my honors classes,” she said. “In my honors mass media class, there are two guys and the rest are girls, but there isn’t much of a difference in the way the class goes.”
Freshman Dan Joe does not thinks that females outnumbering males at Rider is something students need to be concerned with.
“Initally, I met a lot of girls, but it eventually balanced out,” he said. “In Emerging Leaders, there are more girls than guys, but it really doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t really affect me that much.”
Dr. Bosah Ebo, a professor of communication whose research interests include gender studies, says that because there is an imbalance between male and female students, male students have more of a choice in whom they date. This leave female students at a disadvantage.
“Dating is lopsided because the numbers betray the nature of the relationship,” he said.
Women continue to feel effects from the disproportionate number of females in other aspects of campus life beyond dating.
“I’m trying to switch my rooms and there’s an abundance of girls on campus so it’s pretty hard to find an open room,” said junior Jackie Scarpelli. “A lot of girls were in triples and I can’t switch rooms until all the triples are made back into doubles. On the other hand, my friend who is a guy has his own room because his roommate never showed up and they don’t need rooms for guys at all, just girls.”
The question then becomes, why are there more women in colleges and universities than there are men?
“There tend to be more men in the trades than there are women,” said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell. “I think that’s part of it. As a nation, we did a very large affirmative action kind of program to encourage women to go to college in the ’70s. I think that, overall, has had a very large effect on women going to college.”
Not only are women the norm in higher education institutions across the country, but they also seem to be doing better in the classroom.
“In my honors classes, there are a lot more girls,” Zilly said. “Even in my accounting classes where there are stereotypically more guys, I definitely feel like I have more girls than guys. Not that it’s a problem, but that’s the way it goes.”
Dr. Barry Truchil, chair of the Sociology Department, is puzzled by why females seem to do better academically than males.
“What I can’t fully explain is [that] if you look at the high school level, girls are just kicking butt against guys,” Truchil said. “If you go to an honors class, it’s mostly females.”
Rider’s highly regarded education and communication programs, which attract a higher number of women, may help explain why Rider has more female students. However, the university also boasts a strong business program, which traditionally attracts more male students, so majors aren’t the only thing affecting the numbers.
“There are some fields that still remain predominantly male — engineering, MBA programs,” Truchil said. “They would still be traditionally male.”
According to the United States Census Bureau’s annual Current Population Survey (CPS), the number of female college students grew from 1999 to 2008, except for 2005-06 when the population fell by a mere 33,000.
According to Campbell, the ratio of male to female students at Rider simply reflects who applies to the school.
“It also mirrors the application pool of many schools. More men might want to go into jobs where they can use their hands,” Campbell theorized. “The building trades and, the plumbing trades are more heavily populated with men than they are with women.”
Additional reporting by Dalton Karwacki, Emily Landgraf and Cathleen Leitch.