The odds are, that if you’re a freshman sitting in your college’s welcome orientation, when the chancellor or president tells you to “look to you left and look to your right,” that you are looking at women. The male to female ratio that varies from campus to campus is not only a pain point for all the young Black scholars who whisk away to college for their fairy tale love story, but it is eye-opening insight to understanding the Black population.

A 2018 report from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that since at least 1976, female students have outnumbered male students on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and of the total 223,163 enrollment, 81,055 students were male and 142,108 were female.

Women outnumber men on HBCU campuses

In 2018, for every one man on an HBCU campus, there were 1.75 women; a 1:1.75 ratio. Take a look at some of the HBCUs with the biggest gender gaps:

HBCUMaleFemale
North Carolina A&T State University4357
Coppin State University2278
University of the Virgin Islands3466
Savannah State University4060
Howard University3169
Southern University and A&M College3664
Norfolk State University3565

Gender representation on HBCU campuses out of 100 US News

Women have higher retention rates and larger enrollment numbers at HBCUs but on a larger scale, college-educated women outnumber men beyond the world of historically Black colleges. A report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research shares, “In 2003, there were 1.35 females for every male who graduated from a four-year college and 1.3 females for every male undergraduate. That contrasts with 1960, when there were 1.6 males for every female graduating from a U.S. four-year college and 1.55 males for every female undergraduate.” Kinda makes you wonder why women are still paid much less than men. And it kinda makes you wonder why there are not more women in executive roles…since there are essentially, more qualified women.

Students cheers as the class of 2014 celebrate during the graduation ceremony at Howard University in Washington, on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Rapper and music mogul Sean Combs delivered the commencement address at Howard University on Saturday. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

In the latest census report, men comprised 49.2% of the population, with women making up 50.8%. What justifies the steady increase in the number of women pursuing degrees of higher education and the consistent decrease in that of male graduates, when the population is so close?

Altogether, African Americans account for 13.4% of the country’s people, with African American men and African American women at 21,463,000 and 23,271,000 respectively. One could say the gender gap on campus exists because it reflects the gap in the national population. Also, the national population of Black men unfortunately includes a large population that is behind bars, which comes as little to no surprise in country where the system is designed with prejudice to produce this outcome. This figure directly impacts the Black men not in college ..because they are in prison! (although college courses are available in some prisons). Barack Obama shares,

We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.

Howard University Professor Ivory Toldson, author of No BS (Bad Stats): Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear about Black People, comments saying “It’s wrong. There are 1.4 million black men in college right now, and there are about 840,000 black men in prison.” This figure represents a significant difference, of 560,000 men, though its still depressing that almost a million potential Black doctors, Black educators, Black athletes, Black musicians or Black business owners is behind bars.

Other experts explain that career goals must be considered when examining gender representation on college campuses. Katrin Olafsdottir, an economist at the University of Reykjavik says, “Women were told the reason you don’t get paid the same is you don’t have the education. So they went to university,” explaining that women are motivated from knowledge of having to deal with gender inequality.

“A woman with a bachelor’s degree earns $61,000 per year on average, roughly equivalent to that of a man with an associate’s degree,” shares a study on education gains and career earnings. This essentially means that men could face less motivation to finish school, because they will still be competitive in the work field anyway and they are more likely to get a job with less education!

Women aren’t just outnumbering men, in certain ways, they are outperforming them as well. The overall 6-year graduation rate was 65 percent for females and 59 percent for males; it was higher for females than for males at both public (64 vs. 58 percent) and private nonprofit (70 vs. 64 percent) institutions, reported in a recent report from the Department of Education, quoting data from the 2018-19 school year. No surprise there.

This year, the Department of Education (DOE) estimates that institutions of higher education will see 6.1 million women, and just 4.79 million men. By 2026, the DOE estimates women will be responsible for 57% of students pursuing degrees of higher education. It’s like Beyoncé said, “Who run the world? Girls!” — “Run The World (Girls)” (2011)