Economics, Feminism, recent, Recommended

Good Men Aren’t Getting Harder to Find

In a recent editorial, Wall Street Journal editor at large Gerard Baker noted that the share of female college graduates has risen to 57 percent, and posited that the disproportionate number of college-educated women is affecting the dating market. Since there are now four female college graduates in their 20s or 30s for every three college-educated males of the same age, and since women prefer not to date men whose status is lower than theirs, there must not be enough men to go around.

This hypothesis fits conveniently with a number of narratives, promulgated across the political spectrum from Bernie Sanders to Jordan Peterson, about boys and men falling behind or being abandoned by society. However, on closer examination, the story is a bit more nuanced. Baker makes a mistake common in trend pieces on higher education: He takes a statistic about “college graduates” and draws a conclusion that fails to consider the differences among the huge range of degree-granting institutions in the United States.

Every year in the US, nearly 2 million students enroll in one of the nearly 4,300 degree-granting colleges and universities. Of these schools, a few dozen at most would be considered elite, and maybe a few dozen more would be considered highly-selective. A hugely disproportionate share of writers at national media outlets attended a handful of elite private universities, and nearly everyone in mainstream media, and probably almost everyone they know attended elite or selective private universities, or selective state flagships. But these universities collectively educate only a small fraction of the total number of US college students. 

US News and World Report ranks 400 universities and 225 liberal arts colleges, which pretty much covers every institution you’ve heard of and many you haven’t. But even this seemingly-exhaustive list still includes only 15 percent of degree-granting institutions. The traditional college experience of enrolling at the age of 18 in a four-year residential program at an academically-selective college or university is not the most common way in which Americans experience college. Millions of American students attend commuter campuses that serve the needs of training workers for local businesses and institutions.

When you take a statistic like the one that shows that 57 percent of all bachelors degrees are awarded to women, you’re drawing a generalization about the full set of 4,300 colleges that may not be true at specific schools, or subsets like the set of elite private universities. And, in fact, the disparity between men and women earning degrees at selective and elite universities seems to be much smaller than the disparity among overall college graduates.

At Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and University of Chicago, recent classes skewed slightly male. At Yale, Stanford, and Duke men and women are at parity. 

Further down the rankings list, there were some significant disparities at schools like UNC-Chapel Hill, which is 62 percent female, NYU, which is 58 percent female, and UCLA and University of Georgia which are 57 percent female.

However genders were at parity or skewed slightly male at schools like Ohio State University, Binghamton University, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Tennessee-Knoxville. My undergraduate alma-mater, the University of Maryland at College Park, is 53 percent male. At schools focused on science and engineering, the proportions skew heavily male, as at MIT, which is 54 percent male and Georgia Tech, which is about 60 percent male.

A spot-check of a few dozen elite and selective schools suggests that there is near gender parity at the most elite private universities, and perhaps a slight tilt toward women among selective private schools and public flagships, but not one nearly as dramatic as the nationwide numbers would lead you to believe.

And there is no evidence that women are outnumbering or outperforming men in elite fields. Women who hold bachelor’s degrees earn significantly less, on average, than men who hold bachelor’s degrees, which indicates that the median female college graduate is working in a lower-status job than the median male college graduate. About two-thirds of lawyers are men, while nearly nine out of ten paralegals are women. Two-thirds of financial advisers are men, and while women earn more master’s degrees overall, men earn two out of three MBAs. Men report most of the news at top print, television and online outlets. Five out of six engineers and three out of four computer scientists are men. Reports of a generation of lost incel dudes living in basements and anesthetizing themselves with Fortnite and Doritos are wildly overstated. 

In fact, it is the least selective schools that are driving the national gender gap in bachelor’s degrees. For example, at for-profit colleges, most of which have very low admissions standards, 63 percent of students are female

The elite schools and, to a lesser extent, the selective schools, train America’s professionals, its media and business elites, and its academics and thought leaders. Graduating from these schools denotes class and status, and women who graduate from these schools might be hesitant to date men who attended less prestigious institutions or did not attend college at all. 

Less-selective schools, however, don’t signify the same kind of status. Schools where the median student scores below 1100 on the SAT train students for middle-class careers, and female graduates of these institutions are unlikely to perceive a status gap between themselves and men who work in skilled, middle-class jobs that do not require a college degree. It seems that the larger share of female college graduates is a function of the fact that middle-class jobs that skew heavily female are more likely to require a college credential, while male-dominated jobs of similar status do not.

Over 90 percent of nurses are women. To become a registered nurse, one needs at least an associate’s degree, and most newly-minted nurses have a bachelor’s degree. There were 101,000 bachelors degrees in nursing awarded in the 2012-2013 academic year, which means nurses earn about 6 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the United States. 

Three-quarters of American schoolteachers are women, and all teachers must earn at least a bachelor’s degree. About 11 percent of all female college students major in education. 

Jobs that confer a comparable status and skew male often do not require academic credentials. To become a plumber or an electrician, for example, one must complete an apprenticeship that often lasts for several years and pass a state certification exam, but these jobs do not require college degrees. The skilled trades are about 98 percent male. About 87 percent of US police officers are men, and only a third of cops have a four-year degree. In order to become a firefighter or a paramedic, you need a state certification, but not a degree. More than 90 percent of firefighters and more than two thirds of paramedics are men.  

So, even though more women earn degrees than men, there is virtually no gender gap at elite schools, and gender gaps in elite fields favor men. What the data actually tell us is that there are significantly more women than men going to lower-ranked colleges and universities to earn credentials that qualify them to become teachers, nurses, paralegals, clerks and office administrators. The fact that nursing and teaching require degrees while law enforcement, emergency medical services, and skilled trades do not seems to largely explain why more women than men earn college degrees.

That means that the dating apocalypse Gerard Baker fears, in which a surfeit of educated, credentialed women can’t find any men of comparable status to date, will not happen unless teachers and nurses are unwilling to date police officers, firefighters, paramedics and tradesmen. 

Daniel Friedman is the Edgar Award-nominated author of Don’t Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Look Back and Riot Most Uncouth. Follow him on Twitter 


  1. The first problem with that editorial, and the one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops, is that men’s struggles should not be framed first and foremost as a problem for women.

    They are a problem for men.

  2. … female graduates of these institutions are unlikely to perceive a status gap between themselves and men who work in skilled, middle-class jobs that do not require a college degree.

    The article’s entire argument depends on this statement alone, but it is unsubstantiated.

  3. Consider our “education” system.

    Many children are raised without fathers, then sent to primary schools where nearly all staff are female. The male influences in their lives consist of their mothers’ revolving-door boyfriends, who are the type of men who serially date single mothers (not exactly the cream of the crop). Thanks to government involvement in education, feminism has a strong role in the curriculum. Masculinity is seen as a disease that needs to be treated with medication, which far more boys than girls are prescribed. There’s also self-esteem culture and participation trophies, which harm the development of masculine self-reliance far more than any feminine trait. And of course, men and masculinity are portrayed on TV as bumbling idiots, when not the cause of all evil.

    Our boys are raised to be good little girls. As are our girls, who are naturally better at it.

    Then, abruptly, the egalitarian treatment ends. It’s called puberty. The girls begin to experience the privilege of being young and beautiful, while the boys are pasty, flabby results of the participation trophy culture. The girls have no interest in most of the boys, save a few rebels who are everything they’re taught not to be, displaying the confidence and capability that comes from either superior genetics or being raised in richer, two-parent households. Or both. The gap between the performance and well-being of boys and girls widens.

    None of this is to say that teenaged girls aren’t neurotic messes. But boys are too, only they’re being hurt rather than helped by society.

    The boys continue to age, and they continue to get terrible nurturing and advice. Their idea of dating is to treat women wonderfully, not like those jerks who treated their single moms so badly years ago. And isn’t that all women say they want? Yet somehow, Mr. Mediocre-At-Everything (participation trophy!) isn’t wooing anyone with his chocolate-and-flowers routine, and the more he acts like the supposedly-desired doormat of her dreams, the more she runs (and accuses him of harassment). He watches his crushes make out with assholes.

    Chicks dig assholes.

    From the women’s perspective, yes, there are very few men who aren’t repulsively needy, incompetent doormats. Women are attracted to confidence and capability in men, and men who do almost everything worse than the women can do themselves are worse than nothing to them. But we should be much more focused than we are on the men’s suffering, not the poor women who just got done saying they “need a man like a fish needs a bicycle” at their last feminist rally.

    To finish our story, the men end up in one of a few camps:

    1. Checked out, either as parents’ basement-dwelling neckbeards or as suicides (men in their 20s at vastly higher rates than women)
    2. Clueless forever, and resentful.
    3. Figuring out, the very hard way, against all of society’s pressure to the contrary, that everything they were taught growing up was wrong. Increasingly referred to as the Red Pill.

    Trouble is, when the #3s try to dig their way out of worthlessness and learn to be competent and confident, it’s a long uphill road. Those who succeed are rewarded by being competent, successful 30ish guys with the dating skills of a 12-year-old. But that’s ok, they can just practice via online dating, right? It’s not like a clumsy attempt at assertiveness could result in a #MeToo allegation or anything…

    And that’s where even the #3s aren’t all datable. Some fail to make something of themselves after their horrible handicapped start, and others either get kneecapped by #MeToo or don’t even try for fear of it, becoming MGTOWs instead.

    And the women? Most of them chose this. They supported feminism, not strongly, but at least enough to severely handicap 90+% of the male population. They supported #MeToo, at least enough to make trying to date assertively too dangerous for the men who fixed themselves. They all figured they would be one of the lucky few who would marry one of the naturals - the lifelong alpha males who were the exception to the rule - even though there are so few of those that each alpha could have his own supermodel. Our complaining woman is 20lbs overweight, which is above average in America today, and she tells herself that “above-average” should be good enough (the standard is sexist anyway). She should get a great man, right?

    They didn’t do the math, because they always vaguely knew that if it didn’t work out in their favor, they could blame men and demand that men collectively fix the problem for them.

    It’s not working.

  4. “All degrees are not created equal” seems to be the general point the WSJ editorialist missed, and the author of OP has astutely pointed out.

    Baker seems to have been barking up the wrong tree. But if he really wanted to add some truth to his conviction, he needs to then show data of a plethora of college educated women who can’t find mates, as well as an army of non-college educated men mired in the same mating predicament.

  5. Expecting women to choose men who aren’t high status yet is like expecting men to marry fat girls who they expect to lose weight soon.

    Attraction is innate. We can’t talk ourselves into it.

    The problem of high-earning women being unable to marry up as they desire is not easily solved.

  6. “…Incel dudes living in basements and anesthetizing themselves with Fortnite and Doritos…”

    But you say it like it’s BAD!?

  7. “…since women prefer not to date men whose status is lower than theirs, there must not be enough men to go around.”

    Men are growing weary of being viewed only as success objects. In this 21st century matriarchal society are women still incapable of looking past credentials to see the warm tender male figure lurking behind?

  8. I already wrote the thesis, above.

    The education system treats all students like girls, ergo actual girls are better at it.

    The strong movement away from hard science, reason, and the like towards subjectivity and emotional thinking in academia is better for one gender than the other as well.

  9. Over 50 years ago a horrible prank was played on women. Feminists told women that sexual freedom and promiscuity were the keys to liberation and happiness. This divested women of one of their most fundamental powers in a civilized society, demanding commitment before submitting to sex. Who was the greater beneficiary of sex without commitment? Clearly it was men as it played right into their desire for the freedom to bed as many women as possible. Women on the other hand lost bargaining power, to get “y” you must commit to “x”. This loss of power made it more difficult for women to achieve what they really desired, commitment. Inability to acquire commitment left women feeling regret about engaging is sex. This regret is now the basis of some rape and sexual harassment claims. In other words some of the rape and sexual harassment claims are a natural reassertion in another form of the power women lost.

  10. @Farris I disagree, and the data indicates why. First off, there is less sex now (in America) than ever before. This is a widely cited statistical fact. You also can’t talk about feminism without including the 3rd wave and the 4th wave.

    This idea that women are victims of feminism is not wrong, but it is, metaphorically, attending to the victim of a theft while ignoring the victim who got shot – especially when you claim somehow men profited from it. Need I remind you of “all sex is rape” and the idea that any woman who merely lies with a man is complicit in her own rape?

    Feminism railroaded men as a group, and men suffered far more from it than women did. Things got dark for men across the board in the justice system (especially in family courts, divorce courts, and criminal courts), across the board in academia (both as teachers and students), in fatherlessness (which affects boys more than girls) and sonlessness, with regard to affirmative action – which applied to virtually every job sector, and with regard to false accusations of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Relative to women, the treatment of men dilapidated in virtually all social programs, in homelessness, and in healthcare.

    This is saying nothing of arguably the worst effects, which are psychological. Feminism proudly embraced the notion that men are worthless and unnecessary. It created the trope of men being clumsy fat oafs living in the basement. It embraced the idea “anything a man could do, a woman could do better” and that men are beasts and women are their moral superiors. It orchestrated the widespread shaming of boys and men, as well as the social engineering of boys into being girls. Don’t forget “even 5 year-old boys are capable of rape”.

    Because of feminism, men can barely cough without being evil and oppressive. Feminists have proudly asserted men have no human worth, and you’re talking about Brad trying to bang chicks at a bar. Far more men are scared shitless of doing anything wrong to or around women to such a degree that women are disgusted by them. Women lost power? Some women in one way perhaps, but across the board in almost every other way, the facts speak otherwise.

    The idea of a man thinking “Women have been let loose now – time to bang!” is ridiculous (as well as sexist in the classical sense) for the overwhelming majority of men. The overwhelming majority of men are not the caricature a frat boy from the local college fraternity. (Ironically, such men are getting lots of heat due to, well, feminism, and South Park has made fun of the new turn of college fraternities as being centers of woke culture.)

    Men, in general, do not benefit from sex without commitment. Ironically, ask any conservative man, any religious man, any proud father (actually, any feminist man as well). Honor codes and moral institutions, such as religion, are constructed and maintained primarily by men. The idea of men being sexual anarchists running around naked humping trees is exactly what feminist indoctrination teaches.

  11. Great article, really destroyed the premise of the WSJ piece. However, I think the claim that good men are harder to find reflects a real malaise on the part of women, particularly the liberal arts-educated women whose voices are so amplified in the media. I don’t think this has to do with the quality of men, per se, but rather a mismatch between what women think they want in a man, and what they actually want.

    Education is one element of status, but who has higher status: the debt-ridden college student/graduate with uncertain job prospects, or the tradesman who already owns his own house? I’d say women would be naturally more attracted to the latter, but leftist dogma requires them to think of these “uneducated” men as probable deplorables. Often they are indeed unacceptably conservative.

    Similarly, conservative men tend to be in better shape (indeed, a recent study found that going to the gym makes men more conservative: you can’t redistribute gains). In my experience, the men who populate universities are more likely to be PC SJW soyboys, which despite attempts at media conditioning, not even feminists are attracted to. The kind of men who thrive in our feminized education system are generally less likely to be the masculine type that women are inevitably attracted to. But these are the men that these women have the most access to, and are not immediately ideologically repulsed by.

    Inevitably, this leads to dissatisfaction with the dating pool. The men they end up dating have embraced the convenient feminist/leftist credo that marriage is outdated and having kids is bad because of climate change. Women know they’re supposed to agree, but on a primal level they know they’re getting shafted, so they displace that anger onto men.

    Maybe it’s just my personal experience, but good men are to be found among the socially conservative, gym-going, skilled but uneducated class. Even better: these men are being so disproportionately rejected because of modern leftist dogma that there’s a great chance of marrying up. When I met my husband, he was tall, jaw-droppingly handsome, ripped, pulling in a 6-figure salary, as well as attentive, honest and loyal… But almost more conservative than I was able to handle at the time, and I was by far the most conservative woman I knew, by which I mean not a flaming leftist. It was 2016 and tensions were high, it nearly sank us right at the start.

    However, after a three week initial dating period, he told me he thought marriage and children should be our goal, and there was something so revelatory about that. Not only was this a man who knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask, he had seen past the bullshit of modern dating and cut right to the fundamental purpose. It broke past all the conditioning: I immediately abandoned the rejection of marriage and children I had previously adopted as the default. He spoke to what all women want on a primal level, and my primal self spoke back: I want your perfect genes in my babies!

    Long story short, leftist women think good men are hard to find because they date leftist men.

  12. The real counter-culture isn’t the over-tattooed, over-pierced, non-binary, polyamourous “resistance” leftists like to think it is. The cultural pendulum has swung so far that direction that the new rebellious act is forgoing the party lifestyle and getting married and starting a family in your 20s.

  13. @HalifaxCB. I had a rather profound thought the other day, that at the root of so many of the problems of youth, lies the almost pathological obsession on the part of educational bureaucracies, with anti-bullying policies. It is now bullying to exclude a child who is a constant pain from any group social outing- even best friends are classed as exclusionary in some instances.

    The problem is that this also bans the rather difficult process of the normal jostling for position, and efforts to make yourself more likeable, which are inherent to pecking orders. In these instances, young people have only two routes to vie for status. The first is victimhood, beyond the arbitrary values of one groups, one must obsess over mental health and self-flagellate at ones whiteness. The second is virtue signalling, with the greatest status earned by being the loudest voice in the mob, baying for blood when ever anyone says anything that is the slightest bit controversial or offensive.

    Forget the damage caused by state control, socialism and managed economies. Society can reset from these problems. The real damage is caused when culture and bureaucracies combine to tinker with the basic building of our societies for our own good, such as with the abandonment of monogamy and fathers from the sixties onwards, and the deliberate reprogramming of biologically-based sociocentric systems today, from early childhood to adolescence.

  14. Not defending your counterpart, but it’s worth noting the vast distinction between sexual attraction and marriage.

    In discussions of attraction, it is sometimes said that the fact that a very-high-status man will only marry a very-high-status woman, rather than a cocktail waitress, means that women’s status matters to men’s sex drives. It does not. The very-high-status man would prefer having no-strings-attached sex with the cocktail waitress if she were prettier. The reason he does not marry her is that he is not making marriage decisions based solely on sexual attraction.

    Conversations about the nature of sexual attraction are important for the many people of both genders who don’t generate enough of it to get into the relationships they want. They goes hand-in-hand with the only piece of dating advice I ever give: “Stop trying to find the person of your dreams. Start trying to be the person of someone else’s dreams.”

    Women are also known (are they ever!) for marrying for reasons other than maximal attraction. They have what are colloquially referred to as “biological clocks.” They also have thousands of years of history of using their sex appeal to secure resources. Marrying for money or father potential is a big part of our society. Of course, when attraction isn’t there (see conversation up 'til now), the marriages tend to end poorly.

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