It seems that former Dean of Admissions Henry Broaddus — who said this in 2009 in response to a question about why men are admitted to the College of William and Mary at much higher rates than women — meant his comment to be taken lightly. But gender discrimination should never be taken lightly.
Last fall, 40.8 percent of male applicants were accepted to the College. For female applicants, that number is only 28.8 percent. The rationale for this is that many more women than men apply to the College, and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions wants to admit equal numbers of both genders. Even if some of the women who were denied admission are more qualified than some of the men who were accepted.
With a 12-point discrepancy between male and female acceptance rates, it’s clear that some of these highly qualified female students are rejected because of their gender. And just as women should receive equal salaries as men for doing equal work, just as they should be trusted in leadership roles, women should be accepted to college at rates equal to men’s.
It is bad enough that women are consistently paid less than men for the same work, are less likely to ask for raises, and are underrepresented in the most lucrative professions. To hold women to higher standards than men in the admissions process sends the message that in every aspect of their lives, their gender will be an impediment to their success. While women have historically been held to higher academic and professional standards than men, these problems are something the College should transcend, not perpetuate.
The College should not fear a student body that consists of significantly more women than it does at present. This student body would be more reflective of the College’s applicant pool, but more importantly, it would allow the school to admit the most qualified students. The admissions office’s biggest priority needs to be the caliber of its students.
By admitting these qualified women, the College would create pivotal connections for women in the workplace and build future leaders that young girls across the world could try to emulate.
Even in the United States, we are far from achieving gender equality; by not discriminating against women in the admissions process, the College could set the standard for all liberal arts colleges.
The admissions office’s nonsensical bias toward men is invidious and harmful to the women who apply to the College. There’s a fair way for more men to be accepted to the College: They submit more competitive applications and they apply in higher numbers. Until then, the College must accept the qualified women who apply.